The Logic of “Move Right And Win”

The Hill‘s Christina Marcos has a piece today quoting several House conservatives as being entirely satisfied with the prospect of a “limited” government shutdown on February 27. Here’s Raul Labrador:

Labrador maintained that aggressively challenging the president is good politics for Republicans, who just started the new Congress with a new Senate majority and the largest House majority since the early 20th century.

“It’s pretty simple: When you fight for what you believe in, you win elections,” Labrador said.

Though the Beltway CW is that the “hard-line” conservatives spoiling for a shutdown are crazy, self-destructive or irresponsible, it’s telling that the only contrary voices Marcos can find to go on the record to that effect are usual-suspect “moderates” Charlie Dent and Mark Kirk. Indeed, she has to go to a Democrat, Luis Gutierrez, to get a prediction that a shutdown would damage Republicans in 2016.

Now it’s entirely possible Republican leadership figures and “responsible” conservatives are avoiding public comment so as to avoid inflaming the sensitivities of the “insurgents.” But another possibility is that the “move right and win” psychology being expressed by people like Labrador has become so firmly established in the GOP that it’s now bordering on heresy to challenge it. And why wouldn’t it? If your interpretive theory of the last three election cycles is that Republicans won two big landslide victory by being loud and proud and ideological and confrontational, and lost in 2012 because clumsy plutocratic RINO squish Mitt Romney couldn’t find his butt with both hands, then shutting down DHS turn illustrate that Obama’s executive order on immigration is the last stop before totalitarianism is a nifty way to begin the cycle.

So more likely than not, the House leadership will have to find some way to back down on the DHS appropriations threat while pretending they are violently confronting the secular socialist in the White House. They will be aided by MSM and Democratic voices calling people like Labrador crazy and stupid, but the reality is that he’s articulating the GOP’s own CW these days, which is that swing voters either don’t matter or are secretly craving a little more strident ideology before voting Republican.

Ed Kilgore

Ed Kilgore, a Monthly contributing editor, is a columnist for the Daily Intelligencer, New York magazine’s politics blog, and the managing editor for the Democratic Strategist.