The reality inhabited by establishment Republicans is decidedly different. What the Tea Party sees as naked betrayal, the establishment sees as responsible governance. The irony is that the Tea Party will counter that trying to defund Obamacare is real responsible governance. Two worldviews, two notions of what constitutes “responsible” governing — and no way to bridge the divide between them.
To someone not imbued with the ideological fervor of Tea Party Republicans, or existing in their reality, it seems delusional to believe some of what they believe. Erickson again:
The establishment has given conservatives a brilliant opportunity to advance against them and then against the Democrats. As Obamacare now goes into full swing, conservatives can show that they tried to stop it while Mitch McConnell and so many others sat and watched from a cozy booth the Capitol Hill Club leaving the fighting to others while they did everything possible to undermine the fight.
As more Americans watch Obamacare fail them through the Republican primary season, conservatives will be able to put the focus on Republicans who funded Obamacare instead of fighting it. Whether they like it or not, Republicans in Congress will find their names on ballots in 2014. They cannot hide or escape fate.
At some point, there has to be an appeal to an objective reality in which most agree what is real and what is not. (It doesn’t necessarily mean that what most agree is real is actually “true,” but for political purposes where perception counts for so much, objective reality serves a purpose.) Most Republicans, Democrats, and independents opposed defunding Obamacare. There was no “fight” to defund Obamacare because, technically, legislatively, and practically speaking, there was no chance of that happening. Whom or what was Cruz et al. fighting? In order to fight, you’ve got to have two sides engaged in combat. Cruz shadow boxed an idea — the legislation known as Obamacare — for 21 hours and may have cheered the Tea Party but he accomplished nothing. The same would have held true if every other Republican senator — including the charlatans — had spoken against Obamacare for 21 hours each.
But the sincere and real feelings of betrayal felt by Tea Party Republicans can’t be dismissed by the establishment if the rift is going to be healed. Of course, if Erickson and the Tea Party follow through on their threats to primary establishment Republicans who didn’t display the proper amount of ideological purity in the futile effort to defund Obamacare, the level of frustration on both sides will rise to dangerous levels. When most Tea Party primary candidates are ultimately defeated (the power of incumbency is considerable) and most establishment candidates who were primaried end up spending a small fortune just to remain on the ballot, the possibility of a serious and permanent breach might be the outcome.
Two worldviews defining reality differently have brought the GOP to the brink of fissure. What one side sees as true, the other sees as false. What one side sees as reasonable, the other sees as delusional. At this point, they are as ships passing in the night with little hope of healing the breach before the 2014 midterms.