A new Washington Post-ABC News survey shows that disapproval ratings for both Republicans and Democrats in Congress are rising as a result of the government shutdown. Seventy percent of Americans now disapprove of “the way Republicans are handling budget negotiations,” and 61 percent disapprove of how Democrats are handling them. This isn’t all that surprising, and by itself it’s not worrisome. However, it’s clear that Republicans are vulnerable and that mismanagement of this situation could have a lasting political impact.
If Republicans insist on using our power in the House to block a vote, we could face a backlash. The position of being against allowing a vote in the House to end the government shutdown or avoid default is politically untenable. Republicans can’t rail about the evils of Obamawhatever and, at the same time, refuse to allow a vote that would confirm the majority point of view. Americans will think Republicans are avoiding this vote because of a fear that we will lose, which puts us on the wrong side of fair play and the democratic process.
If you think having the majority allows us to block a democratic principle without paying a political price, think again. Manipulating the rules in the House is much different than playing by the rules in the Senate. Using our control of the House to thwart democracy is power-hungry politics, a form of hypocrisy that voters hate. The clock is ticking and the shutdown may not drag out too much longer, but public opinion could quickly reach a tipping point.
Government-shutdown fatigue is also reaching the GOP rank-and-file. The political utility and purpose of what Republicans in Washington is doing is lost on many of our state and local leaders, as well as on our contributors. The shifting reasons Republicans are giving for maintaining the shutdown — ranging from defunding Obamacare to our historical grievances with deficits and the debt — erode the tolerance that GOP leadership needs from the GOP faithful.
If Republicans don’t start handling this right, we could create a problem that will hurt the party in the November 2014 elections. The GOP has entered the danger zone.
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