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Four predictions for post-shutdown US politics (+video)

While there's no deal in the offing to bring an end to the government shutdown, it's already apparent what the political situation will be after there is one. Here's four things to expect.

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SO DOES JOHN BOEHNER. If the tea party thinks they’ve lost, they’ll look for someone to blame, and Boehner will be at the top of the list. He may have won some personal loyalty from conservative House members who have seen that he’s willing to shut down the government on behalf of the defund-Obamacare effort. But outside activists and some conservative Senate Republicans (we won’t name names, but their initials are “Ted Cruz”) might still greatly complicate Boehner’s life by charging that he’s betrayed the movement.

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Washington Editor

Peter Grier is The Christian Science Monitor's Washington editor. In this capacity, he helps direct coverage for the paper on most news events in the nation's capital.

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He’s also under pressure from Democrats and moderates in his party to allow a vote on a clean continuing resolution and/or debt ceiling increase, both of which would almost surely pass. Why does he want that job, anyway? Of all the political leaders involved in this crisis, his position is the most precarious, and it will remain so.

And here's a bonus observation:

NONE OF THIS IS UNDEMOCRATIC. As Ezra Klein of Wonkblog notes, the White House sees the current crisis as about Republicans “trying to create a new, deeply undemocratic pathway through which a minority party that lost the last election can enact an agenda that would never pass the normal legislative process.”

Well, sorry White House, but it isn’t. Undemocratic, that is. As we wrote yesterday, a House-Senate-White House standoff such as we’re currently seeing is just the result of the Constitution at work. It’s our old friend from Politics 101 at work: checks and balances. Sometimes the “checks” piece predominates.

And what’s “normal legislative process?” Tying the defunding of Obamacare to a spending bill upon which most of the government is dependent may be novel and dramatic, even outside accepted practice, but it’s allowed under current legislative rules.

Look, tea party conservatives genuinely believe that the implementation of the Affordable Care Act will be ruinous for the country. (Blogger Andrew Sullivan has a great post Friday on this subject.) Given the way they see the stakes, why wouldn’t they use every legislative tool at their disposal?

President Obama and many Democrats, on the other hand, see Obamacare as the fulfillment of a long-delayed march toward social justice. Would they not go as far as John Boehner has if they felt it was necessary for the health law’s survival?

Both Democrats and the tea party are representing the deeply felt convictions of the voters they represent, not just their personal beliefs. Looked at that way, the current Washington situation may seem not an irrational dispute between politicians, but a reflection of a continued political division in the nation as a whole.


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