What’s become clear now is there is no Republican majority in the House united behind any governing approach. The Gaetz faction is committed to a project that most House Republicans ultimately are not: eschewing consensus governing entirely wherever possible and making no concessions to Democrats whatsoever.
In this, the Gaetz crew has been urged on by Trump, who wants Republicans to shut down the government to defund ongoing prosecutions of him, a Total War posture that would make any compromise on spending bills impossible. “The MAGA dysfunction caucus within the GOP just mirrors Donald Trump’s political style and program,” Rep. Jamie B. Raskin (D-Md.) told me.
But that’s not quite where McCarthy and most House Republicans are. Their game is to indulge Trump and the MAGA movement some of the time, but not all the time. They are willing to run bad-faith investigations designed to smear the Trump prosecutions, to launch an impeachment inquiry into Biden without any serious basis and to use hearings to hype fears that MAGA voters are widely persecuted by law enforcement.
But they’re not willing to damage their own political prospects (or infuriate big donors) with a protracted government shutdown, as the Gaetz crew wants. McCarthy will greenlight corrupt congressional hearings to help Trump, but he won’t follow the logic of Trumpian politics all the way to Armageddon. Yet there’s no GOP majority behind refraining from Armageddon, either.
At bottom, Republicans think Democrats should have helped save them from that problem. Republicans essentially want Democrats to stand by while they indulge MAGA in all kinds of sordid ways and then rush in to provide votes when MAGA’s demands grow so problematic for Republicans that the GOP conference can’t hold together any longer.
Democrats can’t play along with that. It would allow Republicans to get away with all they’ve done to nurture MAGA’s pathologies and permit the GOP’s more vulnerable members to achieve distance from those indulgences. That would make it harder to extract the price from Republicans that they should justly pay: losing control of the House. [Continue reading…]