Is it possible for a political party to gain stunning victories while spinning toward death? Ruy Teixeira provides an answer. He is a Senior Fellow with two think tanks and does substantial work at others. He helped direct a huge project that was jointly sponsored by conservatives and liberals (pdf). This is the very beginning of Teixeira's summary:
The tectonic plates of American politics are shifting. A powerful concatenation of demographic forces is transforming the American electorate and reshaping both major political parties. And, as demographic trends continue, this transformation and reshaping will deepen. The Democratic Party will become even more dominated by the emerging constituencies that gave Barack Obama his historic 2008 victory, while the Republican Party will be forced to move toward the center to compete for these constituencies. As a result, modern conservatism is likely to lose its dominant place in the GOP.
This won't help Democrats much this year. Conservative rage is secondary. The economy is paramount, and Senate procedures, by which Republicans try to break the recovery, are an arcane mystery to most. The GOP kills the recovery and voters see a Democratic majority. Who you gonna blame?
Economic ruin is not a permanent condition. As the homeless are housed, working people go back to work, and a sense of rationality prevails, the party that has sponsored that rationality will also prevail. The chances are the recovery will not affect most people by election time this year. Republicans should retake both houses.
One slender reed of hope remains for Democrats in 2010, and certain doom awaits the GOP after 2010. That slim hope and that doom stem from a flaw in Teixeira's analysis. Republicans will not be forced to move toward the center. In fact, the GOP will be forced to move toward even more extremism. Teixeira, and most analysts, regard the lemming-like ideological march of the GOP to be a strategic decision. In fact, it is a sociological phenomenon. As the party becomes more conservative, extremists move to purge those who are insufficiently extreme. As the impure leave, the purity of surviving conservatives drives the party more to the right. The standard shifts, and even more are considered not extreme enough. The cycle ends in singularity.
“Epistemic closure” is the tendency of conservatives to close off reality. It was first coined by conservative Julian Sanchez of the Cato Institute. Even Sanchez does not name the real culprit. Technology offers conservatives a respite from actual events. If the cold bright light of reality is bothersome, a new light switch is now available, provided by the internet and cable TV.
The GOP will be murdered by technology. The home computer done it.
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Not both houses -- it's even money on the House, but 75-25 that the Democrats will keep the Senate. And I'm not convinced that the Republicans won't snatch defeat from the jaws of victory even in the House. Joe Barton seems to be doing his level best to do just that.
But I do wonder if epistemic closure is a symptom or a cause. I've said before that I don't think it's permanent ... Or maybe it's that I don't want it to be permanent? I mean, who ever heard of a one-party democracy? You (meaning liberals) need a counter-balance that the current GOP cannot provide. Unless they recover from the howling crazies ... Well, I don't know exactly how it will come unglued, but just remember that epistemic closure can happen on the Left, too.
This is such an insane year, I find it impossible to predict accurately or by exact degree what will actually happen in November. Clearly, the country is still in dire shape. One might conclude that would aid the GOP. But alas, their brand of economics and government mismanagement put us into this mess in the first place. And, outside of constant and often baseless criticism of the President and his party, what are they really offering this country as a solution other than a return to what we just left in 2008? They are offering nothing pragmatic or new. The Democrats, through disagreeing factions within their ranks, haven't been able to accomplish much that resonates with the public over the past 2 years. So I'm sure that they will lose seats in both houses. But I believe the far right's shouts are disproportionately larger than their numbers, and simply calling the President names and saying his party will destroy the country won't put bread on hard-hit people's tables, won't create jobs, and won't lift the coumtry up. The Dems will become weaker, but will not relenquish control.
I find this article more interesting than most political commentaries. I have a number of strong political opinions myself, and even though I live in the heart of the left-most hut in the liberal's camp, I still think that it is a narrow-minded home in which I dwell. Republicans are not evil and democrats good. Republicans are not crazy and democrats sane. Intelligent people successfully use logic to embrace either ideological system. Fools on both sides consume nonsense at an alarming rate, and I am alarmed out how foolish I frequently am. We all cling to our confirmations and hide like scared children from most everything else.
All of this notwithstanding, this was a very interesting article. “Those in the other camp, the evil one, have so many foibles the Library of Congress could not cannot even catalogue all of them,” I declare as a small, yet scrappy, hint of anger gusts through my mind’s narrow channels. “To point out another, is not news, and is not noteworthy.” However, to illustrate them with a new twist? Pure entertainment. To make me think of how this version of the GOP will self-destruct: “Ah, such kindness.”
I believe, however, that “The Home Computer Done It” would have been a more engaging title, as the mystery of its meaning would have been irresistible to guys like me who would see that one line and then could not possibly skip over it.
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