House GOPer on Government Shutdown Strategy: “I Don’t Know That There Is a Plan to Win”

<a href="http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:Berglemming-drawing.jpg">Drawing of Norway lemming</a>/Wikipedia

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As the nation began grappling with the effects of the first government shutdown in 17 years—lost nutrition assistance, padlocked research labs, and the shuttering of virtually the entire Environmental Protection Agency—House Republicans met behind closed doors on Monday afternoon to sort out their differences and chart a new path forward. They still have some work to do.

The House GOP members who stubbornly insisted on blocking the Affordable Care Act as a condition of any funding resolution “are not tea party, and they’re not conservatives,” lamented a visibly upset Rep. Devin Nunes (R-Calif.), launching into his now-standard riff about North American tundra hamsters. “They’re anything but that. I mean, if you’re a conservative, you’re actually trying to do something. These people are just flat-out lemmings. That’s all they are. It’s like the lemming caucus.”

A fifth-term legislator from the Central Valley who once remarked that the Affordable Care Act had been passed with “totalitarian tactics,” Nunes makes for an unlikely spokesman for a GOP cohort that has been described in the press as “moderate.” But he insists it is the extremists in the House GOP caucus who are betraying the conservative movement. “You guys really need to find the lemming leaders, but they’re hard to find, because they don’t come out and actually speak,” he told reporters before ducking into the meeting. “They sneak around. They hide. They hold private meetings. They hold private conference calls. These people are actually the description of what’s wrong with Washington. They’re really no different from Obama because their politics are the same—gutter politics.”

So what more could he tell us about these secret strategy huddles? Nunes had no details: “You gotta go lemming hunting.” (One obvious flaw with Nunes’ political-suicide metaphor: Lemmings don’t actually commit mass suicide by running off cliffs—that’s a Hollywood creation.)

As he left the Republican conference meeting, senior members with Potbelly sandwiches passing him by, Nunes seemed resigned to his party’s fate. He affirmed his support for the party’s leadership and the “Ted Cruz lemming strategy” it was adopting. But he couldn’t resist one last dig. “If you’re going to take these extreme measures, you better have a plan to win. And I don’t know that there is a plan to win.”

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SIX TRUTHS

Reclaiming power from those who abuse it often starts with telling the truth. And in "This Is How Authoritarians Get Defeated," MoJo's Monika Bauerlein unpacks six truths to remember during the homestretch of an election where democracy, truth, and decency are on the line.

Truth #1: The chaos is the point.

Truth #2: Team Reality is bigger than it seems.

Truth #3: Facebook owns this.

Truth #4: When we go to work, we're in the fight.

Truth #5: It's about minority rule.

Truth #6: The only thing that can save us is…us.

Please take a moment to see how all these truths add up, because what happens in the weeks and months ahead will reverberate for at least a generation and we better be prepared.

And if you think journalism like Mother Jones'—that calls it like it is, that will never acquiesce to power, that looks where others don't—can help guide us through this historic, high-stakes moment, and you're able to right now, please help us reach our $350,000 goal by October 31 with a donation today. It's all hands on deck for democracy.

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