Somewhere along the way, that right-wing echo chamber that used to just help conservatives swiftboat John Kerry and so forth stopped being a tool for cynical manipulation and actually took over the right-wing worldview, elites and all. It’s now caused a government shutdown and may soon cause a cataclysmic debt default.
I first noticed the difference during the 2012 election. The obvious hack behind “unskew the polls” not only fooled conservative base voters, but that mindset that non-right-wing data couldn’t be correct even suckered in Mitt Romney and Karl Rove. Think about this: Mitt Romney, who lost the popular vote by over 3 million and the electoral college 332-206, was so sure the election was in the bag, he didn’t even write a concession speech. Then, of course, there was Karl Rove’s famous meltdown on Fox as the results came in from Ohio:
Republicans have even gerrymandered their own media that tells them they're winning when they're embarrassing themselves.
— LOLGOP (@LOLGOP) October 2, 2013
Now, with the shutdown drama, we’re seeing how far inside the bubble tea party members of Congress are. And it presents huge problems for negotiations to avert a ruinous debt ceiling breach.
- The tea partiers don’t even understand that it would be bad — take Ted Yoho (R-Caribbean), who betrayed a drastically wrong understanding of the workings of financial systems when he said, “I think, personally, [default] would bring stability to the world markets.” In fact, the risks of a debt default are huge: “We don’t really know what happens if Treasury bonds default, since it’s never happened. What we do know is that it would destroy the market as we know it. Banks could go under, credit markets could seize up, money-market funds could ‘break the buck.'”
It’s one thing for Democrats to try to deal with hostage takers that know they have a bomb strapped to their chest, but the hostage takers have less incentive to give up their demands if they think their bomb is going to bring stability.
Finance wiz Ted Yoho is living a pirate’s life of plunder.
- The tea partiers don’t understand their position. They think Obamacare is collapsing, when other than the glitches here and there that Fox News etc. focus on, it’s been a big draw for signups and has already started having its intended effect reducing costs.
- The tea partiers don’t understand the position of the public. They see the polls that say the public opposes Obamacare, but they don’t seem to see the ones that show the public opposes the tea party shutdown even more.
- The tea partiers don’t understand the position of Democrats. The Democrats have every incentive right now not to yield to tea party extortion behavior: “senior administration officials are confident that if Obama establishes the precedent that the president should yield concessions to the opposition on a threat of default, eventually the opposition will demand something so impossible that a default will happen anyhow.” Yet as Jonathan Chait points out, “one of the things Republicans truly believe about Obama — they say it constantly in private — is that they can make him fold.”
In the 2012 elections, which Republicans tried to make into a referendum on Obamacare, they got beaten handily — by more than 3 million votes for president, losing 2 net seats in the Senate, and falling behind by 1 million in the popular vote race for the House, losing 12 net seats. But the fact that they held onto the House is generally credited to all the safe districts friendly state legislatures gerrymandered them into. Gerrymandering may have saved them in 2012, but it won’t save the country from the collapse their information bubble seems about to bring on.