10/16/2013 05:52 pm ET Updated Dec 16, 2013

GOP still has a pulse-barely

Theologian Reinhold Niebuhr wrote in 1944, "Man's capacity for justice makes democracy possible, but man's inclination to injustice makes democracy necessary."

Has not the Niebuhrian observation been the overarching theme of the government shutdown and debt ceiling crisis?

But as we look beyond the shut down that furloughed an estimated 800,000 government employees, forcing an additional one million to work without pay, ignoring the rule of law, the impact on the nation economically, along with the nervous tension abroad created by the debt ceiling crisis, what does this mean for the Republican Party going forward?

If one examines current polling it is easy to conclude the GOP brand has taken a beating. But those same polls also indicate the public is not exactly enamored with the Democrats and President Barack Obama.

In the cynical climate that permeates the nation, it remains to be seen if the country's current low opinion of the Republican Party will have any lasting impact. Politics, like history, is cyclical; so it may be premature to write a Republican epitaph.

Though they are held largely responsible for the current crisis, justifiably so, the Republican faux pas of 2013 may have unwittingly become the genesis by which their long-term fortunes change.

They have managed to once again make the Affordable Care Act (ACA) central to the upcoming mid-term election debate, but with one difference.

The ACA, which was the initial reason for shutting down the government, was passed by both houses of Congress, signed by the president, and upheld by the Supreme Court, was to decide the 2012 General Election.

The ACA was also endorsed by more than 65 million people who voted for the president--some 8 million more than the collective vote received by Republican members elected to the House of Representatives.

Playing on public fears, the Republican talking points made the ACA synonymous with geriatric triage, fiscal irresponsibility, and job elimination; while arguing that it would worsen the overall quality of healthcare in America.

Newly minted conservative pundit, Dr. Ben Carson recently opined that the ACA is "the worst thing that has happened in this nation since slavery." Personally, I would vote for the Trail of Tears, Jim Crow, and Japanese internment as leading candidates for that dubious distinction, but I digress.

But to this point, Republican opposition was based largely on what could happen; this is conditional speak. In the upcoming mid-term election, the argument will be based on what did happen, past tense.

And the past tense narrative for 2014 has already begun to take shape. It has already enrolled millions of uninsured Americans and the reforms are driving down the cost, eliminating overpriced and underachieving systems.

But two weeks does not equate to an established trend. Just as there is no guarantee to determine the team playing best in April, will be appear in the World Series in October, there are too many unknown variables to predict the success or failure of the ACA in 2014.

Since January 20, 2009, the GOP in Congress has largely been the party of "No," more concerned with opposing the president than offering policies to advance the nation. ACA obsession has been to the detriment of other critical issues.

If we include the 2010 midterm election results Republican opposition of the ACA stands at one win, one loss, The midterm election will decide it.

If Republicans are correct and their predictions for the ACA are brought to fruition, they will be the party of Nostradamus, and will undoubtedly hold majorities in both houses of Congress, primed to return to the White House after an eight-year hiatus.

If proven wrong, however, the GOP might have prepared themselves to become an answer on Jeopardy.

Answer: John Adams, Millard Fillmore, and George W. Bush.

Question: Who were the last Federalist, Whig, and Republican candidates elected as President of the United States?