Politics and bloc dynamics are at play in the fight for the future of the Republican party. But deeper issues include a struggle among different “types” of conservatism:
Mainstream conservatives trying to figure out how to extract their party from the hole their more extreme colleagues are digging for them face a major hurdle: the dependence of the national Republican Party on the votes of besieged whites, especially white Southerners. Another signal of the intransigence of this core Republican constituency was a little noticed development last week: the announcement that two Republican members of the House bipartisan immigration reform group, Representatives John Carter and Sam Johnson, both from Texas, had quit the reform effort. They joined Representative Raúl Labrador of Idaho, who left in June. Representative Mario Diaz-Balart of Florida is the lone, and presumably lonely, Republican on this ad hoc committee, which was once split evenly between the parties.
Meanwhile, Senators Cruz and Lee illustrate the application of this political reality in a context that is shaped by parliamentary procedure:
The congressional dynamics at play here are complicated and hard to communicate to a general public that’s not versed in parliamentary procedure, leaving Cruz and Lee calling on voters to call their senators to ask them to block “cloture,” or limiting debate on the budget bill in the Senate. Except it’s not even a proper budget bill but a continuing resolution to maintain current levels of spending for the next two and a half months. Calling for GOP senators to “in effect, filibuster the House-passed continuing resolution in the Senate,” as Roll Call described it, could shut down the government when the fiscal year ends on September 30 at midnight, if the Senate cannot pass a budgetary extension before then.
“If you caught Sens. Ted Cruz (R-Tex.) or Mike Lee (R-Utah) on the Sunday talk shows, you would quickly realize that these two have absolutely no idea what they are doing,” concluded conservative columnist Jennifer Rubin. “Lee’s and Cruz’s insistence that they are the ones ‘fighting’ is belied by the facts. They are actually intent on running into a concrete wall again and again to prove their political machismo. For many Republicans this isn’t bravery but stupidity.”