Just the Vote
But to couch this episode only as a Democratic victory would really miss the point. For the process by which such a shutdown and breakdown could happen is not just the work of a few cranky Tea Party types. It is rooted in an electoral system that is heavily gerrymandered, where only those who can pay, can play. The reason the Republican dissenters could proceed with such unstrategic zeal is because they are in safe, rigged seats and so risk no challenge at the polls.
Indeed, given that they only have to fear nomination within their own party, rather than election by the nation at large, there is an incentive to act out in this way because it appeals to the base. When constituencies are so heavily contorted in the interests of incumbents that there is precious little consequence to anything a politician does, then you don't really have a democracy, you just have the vote.— "And so America's skewed democracy lurches on toward its next crisis," Gary Younce for The Guardian 10/17/2013