Sunday, July 31, 2016

Obituary: Republican Party (?)

Perhaps it is too soon to write off a party that has been around since the mid-19th century, a party that took over the void left by the Whigs, but the inevitable is going to happen to the party if it can't start facing reality about how boxed in it is.

Yes, the party is still "healthy" in the state and congressional offices, but the inevitable demographic changes will gradually marginalize the party into irrelevance unless it gets its act together and learn the art of compromise.

Playing the race card worked in the short term as a response to the 1960s, but that decade is now a half-century in the past. The people who elected Ronald Reagan were mostly people born before 1930 or 1935, and that generation has mostly died out. Remember, there were millions of people who voted for Reagan then who were born in the 19th century--they would have been in their eighties and even nineties--and in the first decade or two of the 20th century. None from the 19th century and few born pre-1920 are even alive now.

The baby boomers weren't responsible for the rise of the right in this country, and their kids, and yes, grandkids, are even less predisposed to that way of thinking, to say nothing of the millions of people who have moved to this country from other parts of the world. There is no great social upheaval anymore to cause a reaction in the form of right-wing politics. Yes, there are hints of reactionary politics in Europe, but I just don't see the right filling the void here.

The biggest problem with the right in its current incarnation is they absolutely refuse to compromise at all, and our national government has been paralyzed since Newt and his cronies took over Congress. It has gotten even worse in recent years.

Look no further than the Madman of Manhattan:

Consider the ironies: A tribal party ended up nominating a man who has a very loose connection to the party and has had as many party affiliations in the past as he has had wives. A party moving toward more strident right-wing ideology, reflected in the candidacy of Ted Cruz, chose a nominee who is against free trade, has a long history of pro-choice sentiment, boosts Social Security, Medicare, and Planned Parenthood, and can sound like a neo-isolationist.

In the end, the exploitation of anti-government sentiment by Republican leaders, and the active efforts on their part to make all government look corrupt and illegitimate, reached its logical conclusion. The Republican political establishment looked no less corrupt, weak, and illegitimate than the Democratic one, and the appeal of a rank outsider became greater.

Whatever happens in November, the fractured Republican Party will struggle for a long, long time to find an identity and a center of gravity. Almost certainly, given the retirements from Congress and the vulnerable incumbents, the relative influence of the Freedom Caucus — radical lawmakers who want no compromises — will be significantly greater.

Trump’s bombastic rhetoric aimed at minorities, including Hispanics, African Americans, and Muslims, among others, including his pledge to build that wall on the southern border, will make it even more difficult than it was after the 2012 loss for Republican leaders to make any gesture on immigration that might broaden the party's appeal beyond white working-class voters.

The end? Very possibly.

I think terminal rot has set in.

No comments: