What Are Conservatives Thinking?

Counting down to shutdown with one cheerful, eager Republican.

PHOENIX, AZ - NOVEMBER 2: Republican Representative-elect David Schweikert addresses the crowd during an Arizona Republican Party election night event at the Hyatt Regency November 2, 2010 in Phoenix, Arizona. Schweikert defeated two-term Democratic Rep. Harry Mitchell (D-AZ) for the 5th Congressional District. 
National Journal
Tim Alberta
Oct. 1, 2013, 9:31 a.m.

It was mere mo­ments be­fore the gov­ern­ment shut­down, and Rep. Dav­id Sch­weikert looked like a man without a care in the world.

The minutes tick­ing to­ward mid­night, the Ari­zona Re­pub­lic­an stood in statu­ary hall and searched for words to de­scribe his emo­tions. It quickly be­came ap­par­ent that neither re­gret nor reti­cence was any­where to be found. In­stead, it was something like eager­ness ““ even ex­cite­ment ““ that best cap­tured the con­gress­man’s spir­it.

“I know it’s not com­fort­able for a lot of people here, but this is how it’s sup­posed to work,” Sch­weikert told Na­tion­al Journ­al, his eyes wide and his smile broad­en­ing.

“It’s sup­posed to be can­tan­ker­ous. It’s sup­posed to be this con­stant grind­ing.”

It’s sup­posed to lead to a gov­ern­ment shut­down?

“Well, the one thing that isn’t work­ing the way it’s sup­posed to, is there’s sup­posed to be a sense of con­stant ne­go­ti­ation — you’re con­stantly work­ing a deal,” said Sch­weikert, a former county treas­urer and state rep­res­ent­at­ive. “And this is un­like any deal­ing ex­per­i­ence I’ve ever had — in my county gov­ern­ment, my le­gis­lature, even my pre­vi­ous couple of years here.”

The dif­fer­ence, Sch­weikert ex­plained: “We get noth­ing from the oth­er side.”

Mo­ments earli­er, a pre­ces­sion of House Demo­crat­ic of­fi­cials — led by Minor­ity Lead­er Nancy Pelosi — had trudged slowly in­to the cor­ridor with a cho­reo­graphed gloom and settled around the mi­cro­phones. There, they pro­ceeded to ring in the shut­down and re­buke Re­pub­lic­ans for their “planned” shut­ter­ing of the fed­er­al gov­ern­ment.

Sch­weikert, a con­ser­vat­ive elec­ted in the 2010 tea party wave, strode cas­u­ally in­to the Cap­it­ol’s hal­lowed hall, a dis­cern­ible spring in his step. Asked to ex­plain his good spir­its, Sch­weikert hin­ted that earli­er that day he, too, was anxious about the loom­ing shut­down. But then, he said, an el­ev­enth-hour ex­per­i­ence re­plen­ished his op­tim­ism.

“I just held a mini-tele­phone town hall an hour ago, with a ran­dom dial,” Sch­weikert said, lean­ing in and rub­bing his palms to­geth­er. “I’m from a fairly con­ser­vat­ive dis­trict so it’s not a real good sampling. But it was in­ter­est­ing. Some­how, they figured it out.”

Figured what out?

“They’re pissed at the Sen­ate.”

How’s that?

“I think something the left might not have cal­cu­lated is: This one ain’t like the oth­ers,” Sch­weikert said, re­fer­ring to the string of fisc­al fights that has con­sumed Con­gress since 2010. “A lot of folks, with the health care law, they’re fear­ful that it af­fects their pock­et­book.”

Sch­weikert and oth­er GOP law­makers have grown ac­cus­tomed to re­ceiv­ing mixed re­views dur­ing vari­ous spend­ing dis­putes, even in their right-lean­ing dis­tricts. But the con­stitu­ents Sch­weikert spoke with around 11 p.m. Monday were over­whelm­ingly sup­port­ive, he said. And moreover, the vast ma­jor­ity of them blamed the shut­down drama on Demo­crats’ re­fus­al to budge on Obama­care.

“I think they may have screwed up,” Sch­weikert whispered, nod­ding his head. “There’s a hand­ful of sen­at­ors who may have just made a vote that ends their ca­reers.”

Sch­weikert is but one rep­res­ent­at­ive, yet his per­spect­ive en­cap­su­lates the con­ser­vat­ive dis­pos­i­tion in the days lead­ing up to Sept. 30. Armed with these two self-as­sur­ing sen­ti­ments ““ bot­tom­less sup­port from their con­stitu­ents, and sub­sequent ex­on­er­a­tion from blame ““ con­ser­vat­ives have grown em­boldened to the point where they are push­ing their chips to the middle of the table and bet­ting on the de­mise of Pres­id­ent Obama’s health care law.

Sch­weikert was ut­terly cereb­ral in the minutes be­fore the first gov­ern­ment shut­down in 17 years, and maybe a little bit en­thu­si­ast­ic. Not be­cause it doesn’t have real-world rami­fic­a­tions and not be­cause he wanted to see a shut­down. But be­cause Sch­weikert and oth­er con­ser­vat­ives feel great about the gamble they are tak­ing — and feel no pres­sure to fold their hand now.

What We're Following See More »
GOOGLE SEARCHES SPIKE
Libertarians Getting a Second Look?
1 hours ago
WHY WE CARE
VEEPSTAKES
Trump Floats Gingrich, Kasich as Running Mates
1 hours ago
THE LATEST

Newt Gringrich is actively positioning himself as a possible VP nominee for Donald Trump, according to National Review. After a New York Times piece mentioned him as a possible running mate, he said, "It is an honor to be mentioned. We need a new Contract with America to outline a 100-day plan to take back Washington from the lobbyists, bureaucrats, unions, and leftists. After helping in 1980 with Reagan and 1995 as speaker I know we have to move boldly and decisively before the election results wear off and the establishment starts fighting us. That is my focus." Meanwhile, Trump told CNN he'd be "interested in vetting" John Kasich as well.

NO MORE CUTS
House Dems Push on Puerto Rico, Citing Zika
3 hours ago
THE LATEST

"House Democrats are stepping up pressure on Republicans to advance legislation addressing Puerto Rico’s worsening debt crisis by issuing a report arguing that austerity cuts can’t be sustained and have made the island more vulnerable to the mosquito-borne Zika virus." Democrats on the House Natural Resources Committee released a report yesterday that argued "further sharp reductions in government spending can’t be a part of a legislative solution"—especially with a rainy season boosting the mosquito population and stressing an island health system already struggling to deal with the Zika virus.

Source:
USING LOCAL CELLS
Clapper: ISIS Can Stage Attacks in U.S.
3 hours ago
THE DETAILS

"ISIS has the capability to stage a Paris-style attack in the U.S. using local cells to strike in multiple locations and inflict dozens of casualties, according to the Obama administration's top U.S. intelligence official." Director of National Intelligence James Clapper told CNN's Peter Bergen that such a scenario is "something we worry about a lot in the United States, that they could conjure up a raid like they did in Paris or Brussels."

Source:
WILL ANNOUNCE PICK BEFORE CONVENTION
Trump to Name VP Search Committee
4 hours ago
THE LATEST

"Donald J. Trump said on Wednesday that he expected to reveal his vice presidential pick sometime in July—before the Republican National Convention in Cleveland—but added that he would soon announce a committee to handle the selection process, which would include Dr. Ben Carson." He said he's inclined to name a traditional political figure, unlike himself.

Source:
×