“Republicans Have Taken Themselves Hostage”

Ezra dubs GOP opposition to Obamacare a “campaign of self-sacrifice”:

The current crop of Republican strategies ask conservative congressmen to hurt their constituents and their political prospects, conservative governors to hurt their states, and conservative activists to hurt themselves. It’s a kamikaze mission to stop Obamacare. … Republicans have taken themselves hostage. They’re threatening to hurt themselves and their states and their voters and their most committed activists if Democrats don’t give them their way on Obamacare. It’s evidence of their extraordinary dedication to the cause, but also to their increasingly extreme view of how American politics works.

Reihan takes issue with Ezra’s thesis:

[T]he problem isn’t that Republicans aren’t being responsive to the interests of their voters.

Rather, the real political problem is that the core Republican electorate looks less and less like the country as a whole (i.e., the core Republican electorate is less dependent on transfers, more likely to be a part of married households, and more likely to be privately insured), and this makes it harder for GOP policymakers to craft policies that are responsive to the interests of swing voters. While Ezra’s charge that Republicans are harming the interests of their own voters and activists isn’t very strong, one could more plausibly claim that Republicans are neglecting the interests of people who don’t vote for them, and this tendency is both wrongheaded on normative grounds and politically self-defeating over the long-term.