Thursday, April 30, 2009

End of the Republican Party?

Speaking of the undead, there is a lot of speculation about the GOP turning into a regional party and facing permanent marginalization, if not outright extinction.  I heard no less than fomer Republican senator Lincoln Chafee speculate that the GOP might eventually be replaced by a new center-right party, especially if it continues to drift to the far right.

I think all of this speculation is very premature.  

As I recall, not that long ago, there was a lot of talk about the end of the Democratic party, that it would split into separate left, center left, and labor parties.  I remember not too long ago talk of the USA becoming a one party state permanently dominated by the GOP.  Now, I hear it about the Dems.  Both parties have done time in the wilderness before.  The Republicans' last time in the wilderness was shorter than most people realize.  Yes, there was the disastrous 1964 defeat, but anyone remember who won the Presidential election in the tumultuous year of 1968?  The Democratic disaster in 1980 was much more serious, and their time in the wilderness much longer.  I can remember thinking for years that if my father could stick to his GOP loyalties in the long reign of the New Deal, then I could stick this out (and I did).  And now, look where we are.  The wingnuts may hold the floor now on the right, but they won't last.  The party leaders (and most of their members, if not their "base") want to win and return to power.  They won't do it with a party made up only of resentful Southern white people and religious fanatics.  The Republicans are going through the same internal  argument the Democrats went through after 1980 (an argument that still remains unresolved, but "managed"), the argument between party identity and the expediency necessary to win.  

I'm not ready to write the Republican obituary, nor would I welcome a one party state dominated by the Democrats any more than I would welcome one party GOP rule.  A viable opposition is necessary for a healthy democracy.   The Republicans will pull things together eventually, though it may take them a long time.  That's fine with me.  I just hope they do so AFTER we get universal health care. 

5 comments:

Grandmère Mimi said...

"I think all of this speculation is very premature."

Indeed! Most Americans have no sense of history - not even history from 10 years ago. Sometimes I feel driven to despair. The very last thing we need now are complacent Democrats who think the Republican Party is dead. And, as much as I hope it's not the GOP of today, we do need an opposition party.

Leonardo Ricardo said...

I realize playing ¨politics¨ is necessary for sometimes building consensus. However, being stupid by pandering and sell-out the brand name to self-righteous/serving, selective-Scriptural bigots is plain deadended. There is NO popular reward in demonizing fellow citizens (our families, our friends and our coworkers) in the end they have NO future...these Family ¨devaluing¨ folks are so busy lowering the projected % of LGBT people in our population, for their own rationalizing/silly comfort reasons, they forget that we come with OUR OWN EXTENDED TRIBE and HUGE families.

Most of our parents, our siblings, our aunts/uncles and our friends are heterosexuals!

Let the excluding religious zealots start their own sexually obsessed political party...a platform formed with rabid skewing of facts to promote injustice, fear and hate-mongering...Karl Rove, Ann Coulter and Scott Lively can lead them to their promised land.

The GOP ought rememeber and honor Lincoln and ¨Emancipation Proclamation¨ then regroup and stop with the bigshot destructiveness.

Counterlight said...

Leonardo,
I think that's the decision that the Republican party now faces. That religious right base, that is so disciplined and motivated and does all the party's footwork, is now hurting them. They alienate everyone around them. They can't work in coalition with others very well. The party is reluctant to face the fact that they can't use them anymore to build majorities.

Cany said...

I completely agree with the premature take.

What is interesting to me is what the party has become which is more of a theological party with populist overtones (thus Palin). Were they to cycle back to a moderate pov, that would stop. But, clearly, that is not going to happen any time soon and frankly, even Newt looks odd in GOP headwear which is really saying something.

I don't like our two party system, really. I prefer a system of many parties where they can openly debate (including television). I really don't think the two-party system does us justice anymore.

Dead, in political terms, means not going anywhere for a while and in this context, I would call them dead.

But dead ain't gone!

John Bassett said...

Here in California the Republicans have been practicing ideological purity for longer than the national party has, and they do not seem bothered a bit by holding fewer and fewer offices each year. They relish the idea that they are "right" and act as if their failures are proof of their virtue. I think the national party could easily go the same way.