By Brent Budowsky - 10/02/13 10:22 PM EDT
It is now possible that the Republican Party in the House of Representatives, dominated by a highly unpopular Tea Party that is far outside the mainstream of American political life, will trigger a global market crash by refusing to extend the debt ceiling and driving the nation to financial default.
In my column last week titled “Banana Republicans 2013,” I warned the GOP about the danger of their party acting like an extremist and obstructionist faction.
The GOP is a party without leaders living in an asylum run by the inmates. Their nominee for president in 2008 opposes the outrages I deplore here. Their nominee in 2012 has largely disappeared. Their leader in the Senate is immobilized, trapped between a rightist primary opponent and a strong Democratic challenger. And last, but not least, Republican Sen. Ted Cruz (Texas) is waging a political war against Republican Speaker John Boehner (Ohio), and a majority of House Republicans — incredibly — are helping Cruz to undermine him.
Because the Speaker need not be a member of the House, the ultimate agenda of Cruz, who is no stranger to vanity, could be to depose Boehner and replace him as Speaker. In any event, Cruz is moving to destroy Boehner’s authority, and House Republicans are aiding and abetting him.
When has any majority party in the House ever tolerated the destruction of a Speakership by a freshman senator?
Cruz and many Tea Party Republicans would probably rejoice if centrist House Republicans are defeated by Democratic opponents in future elections, which would move the House Republican Conference to the right — even if it endangers the GOP majority.
The Tea Party attack on Boehner, and the submission of Boehner to this attack, constitutes the greatest political suicide since Barry Goldwater’s campaign in 1964.
The question today is not whether President Obama becomes a lame-duck president, which will only be decided by election results in 2014, but whether Boehner is becoming a lame-duck Speaker, done in by his own members.
I hope not, but Boehner will have to risk his Speakership to save it. Caesar must confront his Brutus. House Republicans must choose their destiny.
It is absurd that when the clock struck midnight on federal funding, ObamaCare thrived, the government closed, the markets worried about a default that could cause a crash and public outrage against Republicans grew, and yet the GOP taunted voters by promising more extremism and obstruction.
Conservatives suffer from a radical distemper. They disrespect democracy and refuse to accept the legitimacy of Obama as president. They scorn capitalism and suffer traumatic fear that the competition on ObamaCare exchanges might benefit Americans. In what could be Armageddon for the economy and disaster for Republicans, the GOP contemptuously endangers the full faith and credit of the nation.
While the Republican shutdown has been a self-defeating fiasco, a Republican debt-ceiling debacle leading to a Republican-induced U.S. default would crash the stock market, crash the bond market and cause a new global financial crisis.
Already, the Democrats enjoy strong prospects for keeping control of the Senate and growing prospects for winning enough House seats to regain control of the House.
If Republicans drive America to a catastrophic default and are blamed for the next great Republican financial crash, it will take a generation for the GOP to recover.
If the far right prevails, and the inmates continue to run the GOP asylum, the Republican Party in our time is doomed.
Budowsky was an aide to former Sen. Lloyd Bentsen and Bill Alexander, then chief deputy majority whip of the House. He holds an LL.M. degree in international financial law from the London School of Economics. He can be read on The Hill’s Pundits Blog and reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.