There will always be at least one Republican senator from the right (and likely more) who will see some political benefit in opposing whatever McConnell wants to do. Ideally, Republicans would be working to pass reasonable legislation like immigration reform to improve the GOP’s image with Hispanic voters, but that’s simply not going to happen.
So the new majority leader could introduce an immigration bill and one member of his caucus — presidential aspirant Ted Cruz, for example — will scream “amnesty” and accuse McConnell of selling conservatives out. How about a bill that cuts taxes by 40 percent? The cry will be: Why not 50 percent? A bill that forbids the EPA from regulating greenhouse gases will turn into a call for abolishing the agency.
For someone like Cruz, whose goal is to maintain his support among the party’s most radical base of supporters for his likely 2016 presidential run, there is little incentive to help McConnell — and every incentive to make his life miserable. And if by some bizarre scenario in which Cruz plays the loyal soldier — then Marco Rubio or Rand Paul would take up the role of spoiler. It’s a classic prisoner’s dilemma.