The game is afoot, and the name of the game is 2014.

Senator Mitch McConnell (R-KY) is still undecided as to whether he will demand the further funding of government be coupled with the defunding of the Affordable Care Act (Known as Obamacare).  As minority leader, most of the Republican caucus currently on the fence in regards to the defunding strategy will follow McConnell’s lead. What’s peculiar is that a senator who said “The single most important thing we want to achieve is for President Obama to be a one-term president.” in a Nation Journal Interview less than 3 years ago, is now timid about playing political hardball.

His timidity can be explained by one word.  Fear. He fears any strategy that has even a possibility of impacting the next election.

McConnell’s timidity comes from having both eyes locked on the midterm elections of 2014. The Minority Leader knows that retaking the Senate is essential for leverage with the executive branch, future judicial appointments, and his own personal prestige. Politically, securing the Majority Leader’s office is his top priority and a messy fight with Democrats over Obamacare funding may impact that goal. Many Republicans in the Senate tremble at the thought of confrontation with the Democrats, because they fear their party will be blamed for a potential government shutdown. This is tantamount to an admission that they don’t want to engage because they know they will lose.

This is the awe inspiring confidence they believe will carry them to an electoral victory next year. Outside the beltway, it’s a no-brainer. When a majority of the voters have negative opinions of the legislation, showing the American people they are working to defeat Obamacare isn’t exactly a risky political move.

With Senate elections in Republican leaning  states like West Virginia, Arkansas, North Carolina, South Dakota, Montana, and Louisiana, Republican leadership is singularly focused on avoiding bad press. To Senator McConnell’s establishment, potentially harming a pickup seat causes more fear than the unmitigated implementation of Obamacare.

The Republicans can see the “train wreck” hurtling down the tracks towards them, but are too terrified to do anything requiring more effort than a trip to Fox News. They’ve seen the charts, the predictions, and the real world negative effects taking place in their home states. They assure us that their strategy is better than the ones being put forward by Senators Mike Lee and Ted Cruz, without offering any information on what their strategy might be.

As usual, establishment Republicans are behind the curve. The plan isn’t to shut down the government. The plan is to completely fund the government with the exception of the Affordable Care Act.

Also true to form, establishment Republicans aren’t letting details get in the way of attacking a plan they can’t take credit for. John McCain (R?-AZ) stated “Most Americans are really tired of those kinds of shenanigans.” Remember, this is a man so informed on the will of the American people that he lost a Presidential election by 10 million votes. Senator Richard Burr (R-NC) called the proposal to defund Obamacare the dumbest idea he has ever heard. Really, Senator? You have been working in Washington since 1995, and that is the dumbest idea you have ever heard? Thanks for letting everyone know exactly how ignorant you are, it makes putting other comments of yours in context.

At some point the Republican leadership in Washington needs to understand that real leaders, well, lead. If you truly believe that Obamacare is bad for the American people, you are duty bound to take steps towards getting rid of it. Working towards a majority in the Senate is important. However, electoral victory requires more than eternal fretting about one’s own political skin.  At some point Senators need to do what they were elected to do in the first place, and that is to serve the best interest of the voters they represent.

If we can’t count on Senate Republicans to stand and fight on this issue, does it really matter if they win in 2014?