I was just listening to Wolf Blitzer explain that Republicans realize they’re getting killed in the world of public opinion but keeping the government closed and threatening a debt default. But they’re worried, he explains, that if they open the government and take the debt default off the table they’ll lose a lot of their leverage to force things like repealing Obamacare, cutting Social Security, Medicare and other similar stuff.
That’s undoubtedly true. But it brings the real situation into focus. Without threatening historic damage to the country if they don’t get their way, their leverage would shift back to their actual position, that of holding one House of Congress and that’s it. The Democrats have the presidency and the Senate. The GOP has the House. That gives them real leverage but not that much leverage. They have one foothold in Washington.
You might even argue that the GOP is lucky to have that since GOP House candidates got more than a million fewer votes than Democrats in holding their House majority. That’s due to a mix of really strong gerrymandering and concentration of Democratic votes in urban districts. In any case, in the big picture, that’s not relevant. The House isn’t a national vote and gerrymandering goes back to the history of the country. But again, the GOP holds half of one branch of government. That gives them a seat at the table. But not a commanding one.
That’s the essence of it. Elections matter. This is what the 2012 election got them. But that’s not enough. Only threatening to destroy the economy and US ‘full faith and credit’ gives them ‘leverage’.