The problem for Republicans in 2011 is obvious. The base wants confrontation, but John Boehner knows what happened the last time Republicans tried to shut down the government: the president won the confrontation, and Newt wound up as bantha fodder. The logic is inescapable: Barack Obama holds steady, and the GOP conference winds up splintering between those who are being egged on by Rush, Beck, and the Sage of Wasilla, and those in marginal districts who see their re-election hopes shattered.
And that's not the only dilemma facing Congressional Republicans! The bottom line for them is one in which there's really nothing they can do to fight off the inevitable accusations that they've Gone Washington and Sold Out.
However...there is, just perhaps, one option available that might do the trick.
If they play it right...
January 5, Congress convenes. John Boehner, Speaker of the House.
That's right. Walk out.
Every single Republican.
Just imagine the glow of the Tea Party parades greeting each of their heroes at the train stations! Just imagine how much it would leave the Democrats and their media friends in utter confusion!
Finally, real citizen-politicians, proving, without any doubt at all, that they're not just in it for the power and the perks. Finally, at long last, a party that puts the people first, not Washington. Finally, a group who really get it.
Resistance? Futile. Just think how bad the Democrats would look if they frustrated the public will and stayed in office. I can just imagine the impassioned editorials calling for statist liberal Democrats to follow the moral example of the 21st century Cincinnati.
Congress, without a quorum in the House, would be paralyzed. Ideally, this would coincide with a short extension of appropriations through, say, January 15, so that Democrats would be left running the entire government when it shut down. Blame the Republican heroes? How? They're not even there! The massive inconveniences would clearly be the fault of Kenyan anticolonial ideology.
For once, conservatives wouldn't have to worry about their leaders selling them out. How could they, when they weren't even there?
And then, in the special elections that would eventually follow, comes the bonus: a chance to purge all the moderates and RINOs from the party for good. Yes, some good Tea Party candidates would be lost, but with them leading the way real conservatives could make it clear that the way to remain a hero is to stay home. With all those entrenched, compromising losers gone, it would be a simple matter for actual conservatives to sweep into office.
After which I suppose they would have to resign again, but I haven't quite gamed that part of it out.