Last Night's Fiscal Cliff vote blew such a loud backfire through the House chamber that it almost knocked the dome off the Capital. John Boehner's influence—his ability to enforce party discipline—has waned. He put his speakership in jeopardy and revealed that any deal he makes with President Barack Obama has little chance of being accepted by the caucus.
Republicans lost an opportunity to take control of the conversation. The bill would have established a framework that would have guided Senate discussions. However, the party is far too ideologically divided; the gulf between moderate and conservative Republicans has grown so wide, that the party is speeding toward self-destruction. If the deleterious ramifications of going over the cliff—a recession and higher unemployment—are not enough to compel the GOP to compromise internally and put the good of the party above self-interest, then there's little hope for a fiscal cliff solution materializing in the next several weeks.
The biggest message coming out of last night's disaster is that Republicans don't have much of a chance reorganizing into a national coalition by the 2014 midterm election. They're not responding to public opinion—a majority of Americans want a bipartisan fiscal cliff solution—and they haven't learned the lessons of this year's presidential election: To succeed, the party needs to think bigger.
About Jamie Chandler Political Scientist at Hunter College