John Boehner’s resignation is a political sacrifice to avoid a government shutdown: the Tea Party is gung-ho and adamant about shutting down the government while everyone else in America is asking them not to do it.
The political establishment was shocked when House Majority Leader Eric Cantor’s career came to an abrupt end, but Boehner’s resignation is an even bigger wake-up call. The Tea Party is a self-injected GOP cancer, and perhaps now the Republican establishment will regret their political experiment.
Let’s examine what the Republican Party’s incubation of the Tea Party following President Obama’s 2008 election and Obamacare legislation has got them.
First, the positive. It allowed for impressive midterm victories in which the Tea Party made up an unrepresentative majority of voters because two-thirds of Americans were too apathetic to vote. The GOP has proved time and time again that unstable anger and purposefully ignorant fear is very conducive to voter turnout and subsequent electoral success in nonpresidential elections.
Now the negative. Ironically this same Tea Party success is the negative. The Tea Party, emboldened by its success, has effectively turned on its Republican establishment masters and has routinely held the GOP hostage. Case in point: Speaker of the House John Boehner’s resignation.
In recent years Boehner has increasingly been challenged by the Tea Party Caucus in the House of Representatives, and the Tea Party’s recent pledge to sack his Speakership if he does not shut down the government over funding for Planned Parenthood is obviously the last straw.
No one can blame Boehner for resigning. The Tea Party’s opposition to any compromise whatsoever in Congress is undemocratic, self-destructive, and impossible for Boehner to corral. Boehner does not want to shut down the government, and Majority Leader Mitch McConnell in the Senate has been shaking his head for months at the idea that another government shutdown would be productive or that it even has a chance of being successful. With McConnell navigating a clean budget without controversial Planned Parenthood cuts through the Senate, Boehner’s resignation looks to be a political sacrifice to pass the budget in the Housed as well.
It is no doubt a personal relief for Boehner to retire, and Boehner has said that he only stayed on as Speaker this long because his heir apparent Eric Cantor’s career was sabotaged by the Tea Party as well. He has looked tired in recent months, and Ted Cruz’s claim that Boehner has shown no leadership is not entirely untrue. But only because he is visibly exhausted from having to deal with Tea Partiers like Ted Cruz, who publicly flout Republican strategy and party unity. Ted Cruz has to be Boehner’s biggest headache as the Texan Senator has riled up Tea Partiers in the House by prioritizing their personal political careers over the GOP’s public approval. Cruz has recently turned even more irksome now that he is running for president on the idea that Republican leaders like Boehner are habitual liars, and being the visible face of a governmental shutdown will be great campaign publicity.
However, despite the Ted Cruz and the Tea Party’s hopes for Congressional dysfunction, a government shutdown will not help the Republican Party in the 2016 Election. Republicans are 0 for 2 on government shutdowns, and the second in only two years would no doubt doom the Republican presidential nominee and Congressional candidates alike.
It may be that John Boehner’s sacrifice is the best thing that could happen to Republicans politically though the Tea Party will never thank him for it.