Eric Cantor and the rest of the Republican Party is highly predictable using a simple model. PHOTO: Reuters
The Republican Party of 2013 is confusing to a lot of people. We can examine the parties through game theory, personality studies (there’s actually a lot of great work in that area), the politics of the moment, and all of those inquiries will lead to interesting ideas about the Republican Party.
They are all quite complicated, however, and right now the Republican Party can be seen in a more simple light if we look at them through quantum physics.
Bear with me here, this will only take a moment. The basic findings in quantum physics come from “black box” experiments: a particle is sent into a black box, and it can emerge from one of two sides. The box is designed so that if the particle is spinning in one direction (let’s call it “up”), it comes out one hole, and if it’s spinning “down” it goes out the other. The interesting part is that if you then send it into a different black box, one that measures say “left” vs. “right,” the particle will then “forget” if it was up or down. Each new measurement erases the history of the last one.
Back to the Republican Party. To be a House Republican now is to be a black box that only sends particles, or in their case, votes, in one direction: the more conservative option, or really, the more anti-Obama option, regardless of policy or history. Back in 1994, the individual mandate was a Republican idea. In 2010 as part of Obamacare? Unacceptable. There was no logical reason to couple Obamacare with shutting down the government, but once it was proposed, the Republican Party black box had its answer: of course. Even if that means shutting down the government? [Black box processes] Yes.
It works with anything. Should we only raise the debt limit if we make an equal number of cuts to the budget? Yes. Even though the deficit has been dropping for years and cuts hurt the economy? Doesn’t matter.
Or this one, from the Republican primary debates of 2012: would you sign a bill that raised taxes if it had ten times that number of spending cuts (i.e. a tax increase that brought in $1 billion, coupled with spending cuts of $10 billion)? [Black box processes the term “tax increase”]: every Republican presidential candidate said no, to what would be an incredible sweetheart deal in their favor.
So, the next time the Republican Party has you frustrated or baffled, don’t think about logic, policy or even strategy. Just think about the black box, which only knows one answer.