We have been forecasting the disappearance of the GOP as a political party by the end of this decade. Considering the smashing success of conservatives in the last election, it is a bold prediction.
The idea relies on a continual shrinking of the Republican base, pushing the Republican party into the control of an ever smaller and more extreme bloc of voters. The driving force is technology. As the party grows smaller, and the more extreme voters drive out the less extreme, members of the controlling group surround themselves with comforting, but delusional, messages from cable and internet alternatives that only became available in recent history.
For the entire phenomenon to work, several elements have to come true.
The party must become increasingly extreme. The purging of moderates, followed by the purging of mainstream conservatives, followed by the purging of extreme conservatives who are simply not extreme enough, is a pretty clear signal. Moderate Olympia Snowe (R-MN) is extraordinarily popular with voters. The overwhelming majority of her shrinking party want her out of office. Richard Lugar (R-IN) is scrambling for his life. Orrin Hatch (R-UT) is scrambling for his life. In fact, the number of conservatives being targeted for defeat by conservatives has never been larger.
Party membership must continually shrink. Currently, this is disguised by a much higher level of popular support for the GOP during economic upheaval. The key here is not popular support, but the underpinnings of popular support.
Economic conditions come and go, even persistent recessions. Long term voter support depends on where a party stands. Increasingly extreme positions will tend to dampen the attractiveness of a party for voters. If a party continually shrinks, it can find itself in the hands of a more extreme base. This is not a GOP strategy, but it has to happen. Here is why, step by step.
If GOP candidates get few enough votes in enough elections, the party will disappear.
If the GOP grows extreme enough, it will attract fewer voters, thus fulfilling Number 1.
If less conservative members continue to leave the party, the party will become increasingly extreme. Thus fulfilling number 2, which makes number 1 a certainty.
If more conservative members of the party continue to believe ideological purity is the key to victory, they will continue to make the GOP a less and less hospitable home for mainstream conservatives. Thus fulfilling number 3, thus making numbers 2 and 1 a certainty.
If extreme conservatives listen to what they are being told by conservative media, they will become increasingly certain that any setbacks are caused by a lack of ideological purity. Thus fulfilling number 4, making number 3, 2, and 1 a certainty.
- If conservative media stop telling extremists they are right, extreme conservatives now have the easy ability to find other more conservative media alternatives. Thus making it all come together in a very happy, yellow-brick-road ending.
Some days I think of it as a set of falling dominoes. Other days it is more like an abbreviated Christmas carol, leading to the pear tree. Anyway you think about it, any analysis that assumes it is some mistake being made by grand strategists in a backroom is on the wrong track.
It is a sociological phenomenon. The party can't help it. If each step falls into place, and I think it must, the GOP is already doomed.
Trackback address for this post
I think one of two things likely:
One, a Tea Party candidate wins the primary. It doesn't especially matter which one. Their hold onthe GOP will be complete, and they'll drive it into the ditch. Whatever Conservative party rises from the rubble will probably have a new name, to distinguish them from the crazies.
Two: a non-TP candidate wins, and one of the Tea Party favorites -- I'm looking at YOU, Gov. Palin -- bolts the party for an independent run. The end result is about the same, we just get there faster.
There is a third possibility, that a non-TP candidate wins, and the TP helps itself to a tall, cool glass of Suck It Up. I just don't see that happening, though. And that doesn't change a whole lot either; we end up in the same place, just a little more slowly.
But here's a fundamental fact: there are sane, sober, reasonable people of good will out there who don't agree with you. They don't agree that the liberal or progressive policies are the best way to get what we both want. They're not going to feel at home among the Democtats. Are they just giong to vanish in a puff of despair? No, they'll have a home, and a voice. It may not be in a tent labeled "GOP", but they'll be there, sooner or later.
Burr, while your analysis has a lot of truth to it, I would also submit to you that one could just as easily remove the word "GOP" from your posting and replace it with "Democrat" and have the same likely truth being told.
The primary difference, in my fully acknowledged biased opinion, is that conservatives in the GOP are wanting to replace certain "moderate" members that are not always supportive of key planks in the party platform that have been there for generations.
Instead of steering the party into new territory, they are attempting to return it to what it once was.
With our brother and sister Democrats, I see through my astigmatic view that they are trying to steer the party much further to the left in a direction that has not been realized since McGovern's disastrous candidacy.
Therein lies the difference.
One does wonder where the moderate or decidedly more conservative Democrats will turn to politically with their support as the party drifts ever leftward too…
Your theory of the current Republican disease (which I would characterize as a positive feedback loop theory) is compelling -- it os logical and fits the facts very well. It reminds me a bit of one of the String Theory ideas espoused by some physicists: name that there are extra dimensions, additional to the usual three, which are curled up very tightly and invisible to most of us. As the Republican Right becomes more and more extreme and detached from reality, it looks as if it they are starting to disappear into one of those,
Two statements he makes are wildly wrong, factually:
-- "conservatives in the GOP are wanting to replace certain "moderate" members that are not always supportive of key planks in the party platform that have been there for generations". Well, no. For example, compulsory vaginal probing of women, as proposed by far-right legislative majorities in Virginia and other States, is not a "key plank in the party platform that have been there for generations". It's one of the many radical (and mad) innovations by far-right revolutionaries that are not "conservatives" in any rational meaning of the word. What IS true in T. Paine's comment is that these far-right revolutionaries are doing everything they can to push out the true, rational, informed mainstream conservatives, like Olympia Snowe. All of which confirms Burr Deming's view of what's happening.
I missed this until just now:
"Instead of steering the party into new territory, they are attempting to return it to what it once was."
It is quite absurd, sir.
I watched a presidential debate between ultra-conservative of his day, Bob Dole and Jimmy Carter.
I was utterly shocked. They were not debating on how to limit entitlements or whether they were Constitutional. They debated about how best to fund them and which entitlements to add.
The party you remember never existed. Reagan was not a Tea Partier and I believe he would have run as a democrat if he had to ally himself with them or run against them.
They are not returning to their roots. They are inventing new plants, dirty, ugly, smelly plants. I would sooner plant weeds than buy current GOP seeds.
Leave a comment
|« Columnist David Broder Dead at 81||Wisconsin Republican Holds Lava-Hot Town Meeting »|