This is a basic disagreement over how to approach bad policy which has been going on for decades: do you try to fix it, or do you refuse to help fix it in ways that make it less damaging to various constituencies, instead making the case for overall repeal? Lost in the shutdown scrap has been the reality that Obamacare’s terrible launch has done enormous damage to the idea that it could ever represent the foundation for any future free market reforms, and done a great deal to build the case for those who stuck to overall repeal. We’ll see now whether the right can pivot to making that case.
It seems to me the real lesson of the shutdown is to stop lying to yourselves about what’s possible. House leadership lied to themselves about their ability to sell the debt limit plan to the caucus. Ted Cruz lied to himself about what the House leadership would do and what the end game would look like. John Boehner lied to himself about what he could get through the caucus. Paul Ryan lied to himself about the willingness of the caucus/POTUS to back his grand committee solution (or that the Senate wouldn’t screw him over on it). Senate leadership lied to themselves about their ability to sell a deal to House GOPers. And conservatives lied to themselves about Boehner’s last minute deal being worse than what they’d get. Republicans of all stripes have to stop fooling themselves – but given the lack of trust between the factions and the embedded resentment which runs so deep, this is unlikely to occur.