Radical. That's the word to describe what Tea Party Republicans have done in the past two weeks, shutting down the government and threatening to send our economy into recession or even worse
by defaulting on our financial obligations. Radical is the label to pin to a party that loses an election and then demands the implementation of their agenda or else the country gets it. And that's the word Democrats need to hang around the neck of every Republican on the ballot in 2014, especially those running for the House of Representatives.
A year is an eternity in politics, but we need to make sure that voters remember the Tea Party Republican radicalism of 2013 when they head to the voting booth 13 months from now. We need a national campaign that ties every Republican candidate to the Tea Party, to John Boehner, and to Ted Cruz. We need voters to see any candidate associated with those characters as not capable of being a responsible representative.
Recent polling shows that the American people strongly disapprove of the radicalism Republicans have shown during the shutdown and the debt ceiling crisis. The longer the shutdown has gone on, the worse people think of the Republicans and—ironically given that their initial goal was to gut Obamacare—the better people think of the president's health care reform law.
Approval ratings for Ted Cruz (and his sidekick in the Senate, Utah's Mike Lee) have fallen through the floor. Gallup recently found that the Republican Party's favorability rating is lower than the rating for either party at any point since Gallup started measuring party favorability 21 years ago. Think about that for a second.
Similarly, an NBC/Wall Street Journal poll also found Republican favorability at an all-time low of 24 percent. Oh, and the Tea Party came in three points lower (also an all-time low for them). And as for who is to blame for the shutdown? It's Republicans by a 22-point margin, a worse verdict for them even than the one Americans rendered during the 1995-96 shutdown. All this is happening while President Obama's numbers have remained steady during the shutdown.
I have a few ideas about the kind of campaign Democrats should wage. I've been thinking about a national ad, but one that could easily be tailored to every race. The key is to show voters that when they vote for Candidate X, they are really voting for the Tea Party, for John Boehner, and for Ted Cruz.
Follow me after the break as I try to channel Aaron Sorkin.
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