Understand that the base thinks they are losing politically and losing control of the country – and their starting reaction is “worried,” “discouraged,” “scared,” and “concerned” about the direction of the country – and a little powerless to change course. They think Obama has imposed his agenda, while Republicans in DC let him get away with it.So that sets the stage: conservatives are scared. Their world has been turned upside down by the a nation that has elected a Kenyan usurper—TWICE! They see brown people everywhere, and they're convinced that poor ol' white folk like them are being swamped, unable to assert themselves politically.
Republicans shutdown the government to defund or delay Obamacare. This goes to the heart of Republican base thinking about the essential political battle. They think they face a victorious Democratic Party that is intent on expanding government to increase dependency and therefore electoral support. It starts with food stamps and unemployment benefits; expands further if you legalize the illegals; but insuring the uninsured dramatically grows those dependent on government. They believe this is an electoral strategy—not just a political ideology or economic philosophy. If Obamacare happens, the Republican Party may be lost, in their view.As those of you who follow my Saturday Nutpick-a-palooza, I spend a lot of time inside conservative message boards, and this observation is spot on: The teabaggers see everything Democrats do with electoral lenses. They feel besieged, thus every action just compounds that paranoia. Democrats want immigration reform? Well, it has to be to add to Democratic voter rolls. They want to provide affordable health insurance to the uninsured? It must be to make people so dependent on government that they can't help but add to Democratic voter rolls. Indeed, this is why they've lost their heads over the voter registration provisions of Obamacare. For a party that likes to claim it speaks for the American people, they are truly terrified of a genuinely representative government.
Problem is, a government that is representative to the people will, by definition, be run by the party that best represents all Americans. Republicans, too busy retrenching into their regional redoubts, cannot be that party. But they won't spend energy trying to rebrand and become more responsive to the general public. Instead, they'll double down on their asshole policies while doing their damndest to keep people from voting or gerrymandering their vote into irrelevance.
That isn't just the sign of a minority party headed toward permanent minority status, but one that is snarling, wounded and backed into a corner.
That wounded, rabid animal is undoubtedly dangerous, perhaps more dangerous than ever before. But like all wounded, rabid animals, it will eventually die.