National Journal's Susan Davis surveys the GOP's mushrooming, revolutionary nihilism:
Philosophically, sentiment is growing among the freshman Republican class, and generally within the House Republican Conference, that the negotiations over the debt limit are what they came to Washington to do — fundamentally change the way Washington spends its money....
Under a default scenario, the Treasury Department would have to decide whether to pay interest on outstanding debt, half of which is owned by foreign governments, or keep its fiscal commitment to, for example, seniors on Medicare and Social Security. A default would also roil financial markets. Some Republicans have argued that this is exactly what Congress should do: Default, and pay the interest on outstanding debts first and use the squeeze to push through spending reforms.
"To push through spending reforms" is a euphemistic expression of a fait accompli, for the fiscal crisis would perforce detonate New Deal and Great Society programs of Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid, in addition to veterans benefits, children's healthcare, federal aid to education, etc. -- virtually all social assistance undertaken by the national government over the last hundred years.
It is borderline axiomatic among political historians that Americans are a conservative, nonrevolutionary people. Even our Revolution was essentially conservative, as measured by its much bloodier counterparts elsewhere across the globe. Contemporary conservative pols revel in this comforting knowledge, always citing our center-right proclivities, and, from a statistical point of view, they are correct in doing so.
But if contemporary conservatives wish to discover the absolute limits of American conservativism and locate the breachable boundaries of Americans' nonrevolutionary temperament, then I would heartily encourage them to preemptively "push through spending reforms" such as those cited above. What they'll find -- and about this, I have no doubt whatsoever -- is that Americans will be inspired to violent, counterrevolutionary mobilization.
And it won't be the White House they'll be storming.