It is important to understand what transpired within the GOP caucus on the debt-ceiling vote. The speaker and House leadership had a number of possible add-ons, including something on Keystone XL and a fix on military pensions. Because there was a contingent of House hardliners who would not go along with any debt-ceiling boost, House leaders are forced to go to the Dems for votes, and they in turn won’t allow any add-ons. In short,  when the Republicans have 218 votes they can either accomplish limited aims or at least make Democrats take embarrassing votes; with the hardliners making mischief they get nothing.

Jim DeMint, president of the Heritage Foundation. (Evan Vucci/Associated Press) Jim DeMint, president of the Heritage Foundation. (Evan Vucci/Associated Press)

Even more amusing are the outside groups egging on the hardliners. Club for Growth put out yet another action alert to vote “no” ( they pass those out on most everything passable these days) on the debt ceiling, declaring: “When we heard that House leadership was scheduling a clean debt ceiling increase, we thought it was a joke. But it’s not. Something is very wrong with House leadership, or with the Republican Party. This is not a bill that advocates of limited government should schedule or support.” So why isn’t CFG haranguing the hardliners who will give the speaker no support?

Well, that doesn’t pay, literally. CFG is hardly alone. Outside groups like Madison Project, Heritage Action and Senate Conservatives Fund have a predictable routine. Complain about strategic measures that might allow the House to make some gains despite the Democratic-controlled Senate and White House. Issue demands to oppose anything less than measures that will never pass the Senate or escape veto. Claim betrayal if the GOP doesn’t jump when they bark. Then scout around for right-wing hardliners to primary the offenders, spending gobs of money attacking incumbents. If the incumbent loses in the primary, watch the radical wipe out in the general election and then claim the party didn’t stand behind him.

This has nothing to do with “conservatism.” Like it or not, the GOP is the only political vehicle for advancing a political agenda consistent with conservative principles. But the insulated world of right-wingers is about a money-making factory (donors, clicks, subscribers, etc.) that operates in its own parallel political world. All-or-nothing is the philosophy (which is often reactionary and not conservative as we have pointed out on immigration and foreign policy), but undermining Republican majorities is the means. No wonder the Democrats love these groups so.