Tea Party Yankees

… In the jargon of mainstream political science, citizens have preferences, and the political system aggregates those preferences according to its particular rules and structures. Undoubtedly, Americans’ political attitudes have shifted to the right in many ways over the past few decades. Still, if the shutdown and debt ceiling standoff represent a “shocking” crisis, a “breakdown” in the norms of governance, maybe the problem lies less with bad people and their bad preferences (and where do those come from?) than with the distortions of the system that aggregates them. …

However disastrous or ridiculous the outcome of this crisis ultimately proves to be, the sub-democratic structure of American politics will guarantee that the consequences will be non-existent for those who initiated it: the regime of repressed competition will ensure no consequences for the individual legislators, while its separation of powers will probably ensure no consequences for their party either.

In the last debt ceiling crisis, two years ago, the public expressed overwhelming revulsion and blamed the GOP by a wide margin; the next year, Republicans won the House again, and ended up with three-fifths of the governors and state legislatures. Most likely the same or worse will happen again in 2014. [cont.]

Seth Ackerman, Jacobin