There’s something important people need to understand about the difference between Tea Party Republicans and Establishment Republicans: there is roughly zero distance between the two on any policy issue. Essentially the entire modern Republican Party is dominated by totally insane hyper-reactionary thinking on virtually every topic. There is however a significant difference between the two breeds, tactics. The establishment wants to implement their monstrous policies through the ordinary legislative and electoral process. The Tea Party on the other hand is willing to threaten horrendous harm on the country unless their demands are met. This is scary for the establishment for two reasons. First, they really would rather not blow up the country to make a political point. They may be immoral craven puppets of their corporate masters, but neither they nor those corporate masters would benefit from an economic crash. Second, the Tea Party makes Republicans look freaking awful. Reporters have a pretty strong bias in favor of claiming that the two parties are basically equivalent, both with their good and bad points. This is hard enough to maintain in the face of Republican policies that have gone off the deep-end, but introducing a whole contingent of Republican politicians who don’t attach any value to functional government at all adds a whole new level of difficulty. The press tries, bless their hearts, and always makes the conflicts over government shutdowns and such out to be more of a bipartisan problem than they are, but even they have to acknowledge that these recurring crises are being driven by a specific faction within the Republican Party.
And now that faction is using the same terrorist tactics its been trying to get the party to use against their opponents within the party, for the crime of not going along with using the strategy against others. Who’s going to be the next Speaker of the House? Who the hell knows? The possibilities are the Tea Party will cave and it will be an anti-blackmail Speaker, the Tea Party wins and it’s someone who goes along with their plans, or there’s some sort of unprecedented coalition between Democrats and establishment Republicans. If the Tea Party caves we basically go on as before. Not great, but not utterly disastrous. But the Tea Party doesn’t look inclined to cave. If the Tea Party wins, things will get truly crazy. Going over the debt limit, defaulting, shutting down the government, economic catastrophe… basically things will keep getting worse until establishment Republicans grow a spine and get to one of the other options, or we have an election, whichever comes first. And of course the election is no guarantee, since it’s not like any of these safe-seat Tea Party guys are at much risk. And then there’s the final option, some sort of coalition government. This could either mean Democrats voting for an establishment Republican Speaker, or Republicans voting for Nancy Pelosi, or some stranger option (the Speaker doesn’t even have to be a member of the House!) The Democrats would have to get some pretty real concessions to be willing to go along with such a thing, and it’s hard to imagine any Republicans going along with that kind of deal would survive their next primary.
So here we are, on the edge of disaster as always. If you give a crap about what happens in this country, please vote for your local Democratic representative in 2016. The only exception is if you’re an accelerationist who wants to hurry along the collapse of capitalism in order to cause a revolution. If that’s the case, see if there’s a Tea Party candidate running in your district. If not an establishment Republican is almost as good.