The phrase "suicide caucus" seems to have originated with none other than Charles Krauthammer, who said on September 12—in language echoed by President Obama yesterday—that House Republicans cannot win this fight over government funding and Obamacare because "you cannot govern from one part of one-half of the Congress."
So, why do the members of the suicide caucus persist?
Look at this map, and consider what Ryan Lizza says about it in The New Yorker:
The members of the suicide caucus live in a different America from the one that most political commentators describe when talking about how the country is transforming. The average suicide-caucus district is seventy-five per cent white, while the average House district is sixty-three per cent white. Latinos make up an average of nine per cent of suicide-district residents, while the over-all average is seventeen per cent. The districts also have slightly lower levels of education (twenty-five per cent of the population in suicide districts have college degrees, while that number is twenty-nine per cent for the average district)...
In short, these eighty members represent an America where the population is getting whiter, where there are few major cities, where Obama lost the last election in a landslide, and where the Republican Party is becoming more dominant and more popular. Meanwhile, in national politics, each of these trends is actually reversed.
It is in this sense—and only in this sense—that the suicide caucus members can claim to be making any kind of sense. They apparently see themselves as the mouthpiece for a jumble of fears about the future that they themselves have sown in places like Wyoming, Kansas, and rural Arkansas.
Why work to sow these fears?
Maybe it's because Obamacare is something their constituents might really, really benefit from and appreciate.