THE BLOG
09/27/2013 10:30 am ET Updated Nov 27, 2013

Has the GOP Leadership Become Delusional?

You have to wonder if the GOP leadership has begun to lose touch with political reality.

They are laying out a series of demands that Democrats must meet in order to avoid a shutdown of the government -- or an economic disaster that would result if the government defaults on its debts and refuses to pay financial obligations. Everyone acknowledges that either of these events would have dire consequences for the entire country and its economy.

Why do they believe that Democrats have a greater self-interest in avoiding these dire consequences than they do, when they themselves will be blamed? That makes no political sense.

And there is little question they will be blamed. The polling has made it clear for some time that most Americans will blame the GOP if either of these catastrophes ensue -- and the focus of that blame will shift to the Republicans more and more as the days pass.

From a purely political point of view, it's as if your opponent in a war threatens that he will blow his own head off if you do not surrender. What?

Maybe they assume that Democrats care more about the economy of the United States, the jobs of their fellow Americans and the availability of public services than they do -- but that is not a message you'd think they would want to send to the voters.

And they are forgetting something else. The political situation has fundamentally changed since the last debt-ceiling crisis in 2011.

In 2011, the Tea Party leadership of the GOP was coming off a big win in the 2010 mid-terms. Last year their positions were once again tested in the General Election, and they were rejected by the voters.

Second, in 2011 President Obama could ill afford a government default that could have destroyed the momentum of the fragile recovery a year before his re-election. Next year the voters will not be deciding whether to re-elect President Obama. They will be deciding who they elect to Congress.

Do the Republicans really want to be held responsible for another financial calamity when it is their turn to face the voters? In fact, many observers believe that such a development would create exactly the kind of wave that could wipe out their already fragile majority in the House and dash their best hope in the foreseeable future to take back the Senate.

This increasing lack of connection to political reality may result in part from classic denial. They are unwilling to accept that their extremist ideological views are massively unpopular with an increasingly progressive electorate.

Last election they simply refused to believe that all of those Hispanics, African Americans, women and young people would come to the polls. Even their pollsters refused to believe that the electorate was changing. They were actually stunned that they lost.

They continue to refuse to believe the fact that with every passing year, the electorate is less and less sympathetic to their extremist views. Polls show that Millenial voters are the most progressive generation in 50 years. Every year a new class of those Millenial voters replaces a group of older, less progressive voters in the electorate. What's more, every year there are more and more Hispanics and Asian Americans who voted over 70 percent for Obama. And of course -- as a recent poll in the Virginia governor's race makes clear -- they persist in driving away more and more women voters with their opposition to women's reproductive rights, attacks on education, child nutrition and universal background checks on guns.

The Tea Party Republicans appear to have abandoned hope that they can achieve their goals through the established -- democratic -- political process. After all, virtually all of their demands are extremely unpopular with the broader electorate and they overwhelmingly lost the last election.

Most Americans do not support their demand to defund Obamacare -- and the law's popularity will only grow once it goes into effect -- as its benefits become clear and the "horrors" predicted by its opponents fail to materialize.

Most Americans simply do not support policies that take food from the mouths of hungry children in order to give more tax breaks to millionaires, or gut the provisions of the Dodd-Frank law that rein in Wall Street banks, or privatize Medicare.

So they have resorted to the tactic of choice for small extremist minorities: hostage-taking. They are threatening to blow up the economy if they don't get their way.

And that is precisely why the president and Democrats in Congress are so clear that they will not cede to GOP demands. If Democrats were to allow hostage-taking to work, GOP extremists would try the same tactic again and again. There would be no end to the hostage-taking in order to force the majority of Americans to agree to the positions of a small minority that have been rejected in democratic elections.

And the GOP leadership is ignoring one final factor. When voters cast their ballots they not only ask who is on their side, they also ask who is competent to provide leadership.

Many Republicans in Congress have announced they are willing to risk shutdown or default to avoid the "horrors" of Obamacare, which they say is the worst law ever passed by Congress. Really?

Next time you get into a plane, ask yourself how you would feel about having a delusional pilot so out of touch with reality that he would recklessly risk the well-being of all on board to fly through a tornado because he wants to fly to the mythical land of Oz.

Voters are not generally wild about entrusting leadership to a bunch of reckless adolescents who see nothing wrong with playing chicken racing their cars toward each other to see who will swerve first.

Recklessness, lack of connection with reality, failure to recognize that actions have consequences -- those are not the qualities that voters find appealing in candidates for higher office.

One way or another, the GOP will ultimately fold -- that is virtually certain. The only question is whether someone in Republicanland who has yet not drunk the Tea Party Kool Aid will grab the yoke and pull the GOP out of this spiral dive -- or whether they are forced to surrender as they emerge from a pile of rubble on the canyon floor.

Robert Creamer is a long-time political organizer and strategist, and author of the book: Stand Up Straight: How Progressives Can Win, available on Amazon.com. He is a partner in Democracy Partners and a Senior Strategist for Americans United for Change. Follow him on Twitter @rbcreamer.

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