Regardless of whether it passes or does not pass legislation, the Tea Party faction has won significant victories within the GOP in the shutdown/debt limit fight. By co-opting Boehner, the Tea Party asserted significant control over the GOP by having all Republicans act according to Tea Party norms and values and contrary to historic rules.
This is what cults and organized crime gangs do (as do other more benign organizations): They get new members of give up old allegiances—to family, friends, other groups—and take actions to cement their loyalty to the gang. For mobsters, the initiation ritual might be commission of a theft or murder. For a cult, it might be sex with cult members or disavowal of a prior religion.
For the Tea Party, the initiation consists of getting GOP House members to disregard the historic political norm that the party that wins the election gets to run the country, and to take a series of party line votes to risk harming the country with the goal of extorting political concessions from the Democrats.
I can’t stress this enough: By enforcing the Tea Party agenda in the votes already taken, Boehner has in effect ceded his authority to the Tea Party, and run other Republicans through a Tea Party initiation ritual. Anyone who is not following this line will risk banishment from the GOP as a RINO.
As with gangsters who commit murder and then cannot easily return to their former lives, the House GOP rank and file is already branded by the shutdown, and will be branded with a default if it comes. By acquiescing to the Tea Partiers, they are turning themselves into Tea Partiers.
This is a massive threat to democracy. The GOP is abandoning the historic rules of democracy, from which it benefited when it won majority status. The Tea Party leadership is anti-democratic, so convinced of its righteousness that it disregards the rights of others. As Lincoln said of the secessionists, “They will rule or they will ruin.”
At its core, the Tea Party represents the authoritarian strain that has always run through the GOP. With the shutdown votes already taken, the Tea Party has obtained significant control over the loyalties of elected Republicans, just as the evangelicals obtained significant control over the party machinery over the past 20 years.
In fact, the GOP has been a frog in a slowly boiling authoritarian pot for the past 20 years. If the Tea Party creates a debt default crisis, the pot will be at full boil.