www.mozilla.com Weather Central
Voices
Headlines

A note on primitivism -1/29/2015, 9:55 AM

Owning ideas -1/29/2015, 9:55 AM

There's more -1/29/2015, 9:55 AM

Kansas' birthday -1/29/2015, 9:55 AM

Back to the future, locked and loaded -1/28/2015, 9:29 AM

Compromise -- make it happen -1/28/2015, 9:29 AM

Faith v. facts -1/28/2015, 9:29 AM

Counting on Les -1/27/2015, 9:22 AM

Building bills in the Legislature -1/27/2015, 9:22 AM

Tale of the tree -1/27/2015, 9:22 AM

Seismic activity -1/27/2015, 9:22 AM

Where are the good guys? -1/27/2015, 9:21 AM

Brownback's budget -1/26/2015, 9:59 AM

Committee meetings begin -1/26/2015, 9:50 AM

Excitement starts at Capitol -1/26/2015, 9:50 AM

What's happening with oil prices? -1/26/2015, 9:50 AM

Synthetic biology, brave new world -1/26/2015, 9:50 AM

Today's fierce urgency is voter mobilization -1/25/2015, 5:02 PM

Duke, Muslims and politics of intimidation -1/25/2015, 5:02 PM

Right to hunt -1/25/2015, 5:02 PM

Pipeline: Foreign profits, American risk -1/23/2015, 7:47 AM

Social Darwinist 'Christianity' -- Chapter 3 -1/23/2015, 7:47 AM

Kiwanis generosity -1/23/2015, 7:47 AM

The state economy -1/22/2015, 10:23 AM

Restate of the union -1/22/2015, 10:23 AM

France needs our First Amendment -1/22/2015, 10:23 AM

Repurposing Washington -1/20/2015, 9:31 AM

March for Life -1/20/2015, 9:31 AM

Brownback, the budget and schools -1/20/2015, 9:31 AM

Sensible checks are no assault on gun rights -1/19/2015, 9:50 AM

Jeb Bush chooses expedience on marriage issue -1/19/2015, 9:50 AM

The State of the State Address and the legislative session -1/19/2015, 8:47 AM

Spending's not the culprit in budget woes -1/18/2015, 3:32 PM

Pilgrim's paradise -1/18/2015, 3:32 PM

Spring elections -1/18/2015, 3:23 PM

Kobach is back -1/16/2015, 3:04 PM

More with Les -1/16/2015, 10:03 AM

Understanding Hooper -1/16/2015, 10:02 AM

Basic economics -1/16/2015, 10:01 AM

Female governance -1/15/2015, 9:37 AM

2015 energy policy -- a unique opportunity -1/15/2015, 9:37 AM

The better option -1/15/2015, 9:36 AM

'Wall Street' a waste -1/14/2015, 2:50 PM

Trade already -1/14/2015, 2:49 PM

No media bias? -1/14/2015, 2:48 PM

Retirement funds -1/14/2015, 2:47 PM

Redefining public education in Kansas -1/13/2015, 10:06 AM

What the future holds -1/13/2015, 10:06 AM

Efficient education -1/13/2015, 10:06 AM

Terrorists usher in the 'End of Satire' -1/12/2015, 9:14 AM

Sexuality, lame logic, substandard science -1/12/2015, 9:14 AM

A tragic family story -1/11/2015, 12:11 PM

For freedom, LGBT rights, a year of decision -1/11/2015, 12:11 PM

Roberts' promotion -1/11/2015, 12:11 PM

FHSU campaign -1/11/2015, 12:11 PM

Fairness in U.S. -1/9/2015, 3:05 PM

Liberals' use of black people -- Part II -1/9/2015, 9:09 AM

Social Darwinist 'Christians' -- Chapter 2 -1/9/2015, 9:09 AM

Taxing situation -1/9/2015, 9:09 AM

Trust: Society depends on it -1/8/2015, 9:55 AM

Education schools lack a paradigm -1/8/2015, 9:55 AM

Congress convenes -1/7/2015, 10:07 AM

Simple way to fix gridlock: change committees -1/7/2015, 10:06 AM

Kansas is your customer -1/7/2015, 10:06 AM

Large budget shortfalls await solution -1/6/2015, 10:06 AM

The state and funding K-12 education -1/6/2015, 10:06 AM

Tree removal -1/6/2015, 10:06 AM

Republicans won -- now what? -1/5/2015, 9:13 AM

Social Darwinist religion, Chapter 1 -1/5/2015, 9:13 AM

Liberals' use of black people -1/2/2015, 9:53 AM

Ignorance abounds -1/2/2015, 9:53 AM

Superbug dilemma -1/2/2015, 9:53 AM

Thanks North Korea -12/31/2014, 1:26 PM

Sony gets the last laugh -12/31/2014, 1:26 PM

Free speech -12/31/2014, 1:16 PM

New Year's resolutions -- sort of -12/31/2014, 9:22 AM

A flat-footed backflip for Wall Street -12/31/2014, 9:22 AM

Dim the lights -12/31/2014, 9:22 AM

Some near-sure bets for the new year -12/31/2014, 9:21 AM

Adios, Rick Perry -12/30/2014, 8:20 AM

Budget strife means high-anxiety session -12/30/2014, 8:20 AM

Time for caution -12/30/2014, 8:20 AM

-12/29/2014, 10:01 AM

Court's raw deal -12/29/2014, 10:01 AM

Chris Christie's pork barrel politics -12/29/2014, 10:00 AM

A Festivus Miracle -12/27/2014, 4:18 PM

Faith, not politics, keeps Christ in Christmas -12/27/2014, 4:18 PM

EPA rule falls short -12/27/2014, 4:18 PM

2014: The year in Kansas higher education -12/26/2014, 9:39 AM

Methane from cattle -12/26/2014, 9:39 AM

Black progression and retrogression -12/26/2014, 9:38 AM

Up-Lyft-ing Christmas tale -12/25/2014, 1:22 PM

Terrorism on soft targets -12/25/2014, 1:22 PM

Story of Christmas -12/25/2014, 1:22 PM

Fabricated column -12/24/2014, 8:21 AM

The Christmas spirit dwells in us all -12/24/2014, 8:21 AM

Celebrating life -12/24/2014, 8:21 AM

A visit from St. Nicholas -12/24/2014, 8:21 AM

A look ahead to the Legislature -12/23/2014, 9:34 AM

There is a Santa Claus -12/23/2014, 9:34 AM

myTown Calendar

SPOTLIGHT
[var top_story_head]

Determining the winners and losers

Published on -10/23/2013, 9:50 AM

Printer-friendly version
E-Mail This Story

The conventional wisdom is that Republicans were the big losers in the shutdown of the government and the near-default. Certainly, that's what the polls show. And Sen. Ted Cruz has become the "poster boy" for a failed strategy that finally ended when the grownups in the Senate hammered out the sort of deal that should have been passed by the House weeks ago.

The reason it wasn't passed weeks ago is House Speaker John Boehner has more Cruz-wannabes than he can handle, which is to say, a big enough number that, to the end, he had to rely on Democratic votes, with a majority of his own members voting against him. So the center held, but it's a Democratic center these days, even in a Republican House.

The tea party lost. They are being blamed in the national polls. Democrats are licking their chops. Cruz should be cowering in the corner. But he's not, because he's no fool.

The center only matters in general elections. It only matters when you're about to fall off the fiscal cliff. The rest of the time, the ideologues pretty much rule. Cruz knows that, which is why he was smiling.

The people who admire him are not a majority and never will be. But you don't need a moderate majority to win a Republican primary or caucus. In fact, that's pretty much how you lose one.

The Republicans have got themselves in a very difficult box. The candidates who excite their base, those with the strongest support among citizens who vote in low-turnout primaries and even lower-turnout caucuses are the very people who led the temper tantrum of the past few weeks. It's no exaggeration to say that for many of these folks, Cruz is their hero, as are his congressional followers. And there will be plenty of opportunities to show it.

The Republicans who have reason to worry on this morning after are not the ones who shut down the government, but the ones who opened it up again.

Sad but true. They're the ones who could face primary challenges for not being ideological enough. They're the ones who will have to explain why they didn't join in the playground games aimed at taking down Obamacare.

Oh, it's true, of course, that you can't get rid of Obamacare as long as Barack Obama is president. So the Republican effort was hopeless and fruitless. This matters to me. It matters to many people. But in my youth, when I was a high-intensity activist on the other side of the spectrum, I never let the hopelessness of my cause stand in the way of the fervor with which I pursued it.

Today's hopeless cause was tomorrow's party platform and, in the next decade or so, maybe even an act of Congress or an executive order. That's how it was with abortion rights and gay rights, which moved from the ideological left to the center. I'm sure that's how Cruz thinks about Obamacare. So what if defeating it today is a hopeless cause?

People talk all the time about how democracy is corrupted by big money, and it is. But "one person, one vote" is a myth for other reasons, as well, the most basic being that people have very different attitudes toward politics and voting.

Most people view voting the way I view baseball. For much of the season, I pretty much ignore it, not waking up until close to the end, when I start checking to see whether my Red Sox are going to make it to the series. I don't pay attention until the field has been narrowed.

That's how most people vote: only at the end. Ideologues start at the beginning; they pick the candidates who make it to the World Series. What they lack in numbers they make up for in intensity.

The tea party will not go away as a result of this exercise. If anything, their ability to paralyze the country and threaten the world economy, well, that kind of power has to make any ideologue feel good. Had the tea party truly "lost," that would have been good news for Republicans who are trying to win general elections.

No such luck.

Susan Estrich is a columnist, commentator and law and political science professor at USC.

digg delicious facebook stumbleupon google Newsvine
More News and Photos

Associated Press Videos

AP Breaking News