My continuing prediction that the Republican Party is headed toward a final demise is based on a sociological phenomenon. On the surface, the trend looks to be more of the same. History is replete with examples of mainstream political parties embarking on journeys far away from the political mainstream.
The Labor (Or is it Labour?) Party in Great Britain went wildly leftward in the 1970s. To a milder extent, so did the Democratic Party. The Republican Party went off the rails in the early 1960s. All came back toward the center.
I think this goes on a cycle of about forty years or so. The Democrats had a bout of the howling crazies in the 1970s, give or take, and only came out of it in the early to mid 1990s. The Republicans had their last dip in the crazy pool in the 1930s, approximately, but eventually got better.
The main problem with his analysis is that the healing hasn't begun at any point over the last 20 years. The underlying issue is party participation. The base of the Republican Party has been shrinking. War, economic developments, and other events do send tsunamis which tend to disguise the slow and steady erosion of the base, but the erosion continues.
A party can do quite nicely with a small base of devoted followers. They need only to have sufficient appeal to the electorate in general elections. Republicans did well in 2004 and in 2010. But the line that should provide a portend for the future is the increasing departure of that shrinking base from the general public. Sooner or later that has to catch up.
Tim does not dispute this. In fact, he embraces the logic of it, up to a point. "[I]n the near term, yeah, the Republicans are pretty much screwed." But he believes the GOP will turn around, repeating the more general patterns of the past, that have held true of political parties. Republicans will get clobbered in a few elections. The shock and awe effect will bring them around.
There are some events that can be viewed as supporting his projection. Glenn Beck leaves Fox as his ratings go down. Sarah Palin begins to fall in the polls, even among Republicans. And there is a reasonable question: just where should we expect conservatives to go after the collapse? Tim seems to put some stock in the influence of money in the equation. Include the influence of big donors and you could have an eventual lurch toward the center as sanity and a desire to win prevail once more.
What I take exception to is the notion utter invincibility of the "bubble". "Cheap" is not the same as "free", and someone's footing the bill to keep the noise machine running. Those who are doing it because they think it's the Lord's work will probably keep on. Those who are doing it to stump up votes and gather national influence, those who need to have legislative support for issues that they care about, they're not going to keep funding failure after failure.
Tim has some very impressive company in this. In fact, David Frum thinks the shock and awe turnaround may be only weeks away.
The Democrats will pound home the message that Republicans shut down the government so that they can cancel Medicare for everyone under 55, gut Medicaid, and cut taxes for the rich. Ryan is the hero of the party today. Six weeks from now, Republicans will feel about him the way the Confederacy felt about George Pickett six weeks after Gettysburg. Battered and chastened, Republicans will be less resistant to the safe choice demanded by big party donors: i.e., me.
Battered and chastened? In six weeks? For this to happen, a great deal of healing will have to happen in a terrible hurry. And, as I see it, the base will have to change. During last week's budget crisis, the general public favored compromise in order to avoid the potential damage hanging over the country like the sword of Damocles. But the Republican base chanted support for shutting down government.
This all is simply a surface symptom. It does not at all contradict Tim's thesis that a turnaround is an eventual likelihood. But a peek beneath the surface does reveal a very new factor in politics. I think it tells us why the Republican surge toward moderation did not happen a decade and a half ago. I think it tells us why it won't happen in the future.
Technology fuels the newest trend. The cocooning effect of cable and internet has a deeper impact than is generally recognized. The soothing tones of conservative media will continue to croon new lullabies as the most rabid of conservatives dream about the coming right wing revolution. Their sleep will be undisturbed as the rest of the country recoils. The GOP is becoming the party of McGoo revolutionaries.
Still, as Tim points out, coming decades could shake folks up. Continuing sleep for the restless ideological giant is not at all a sure thing.
After all, Beck's audience did get bored with the madness.
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Obama's last speech is a perfect example of someone responding to the objections of the masses and changing his approach. He became the man he was during the campaign.
The shift to the far right is an adjustment. The pendulum will swing back when that adjustment is shown to be a failure. So far, the adjustment has not been a complete political disaster. The Republicans acquired the previous presidency and they won the House this round. Both of those things were done while supporting ever more conservative principles.
The party has to shrink before it will shrink. When the waning influence of the party is consistently apparent, the pendulum will swing back toward the center and the party will recover.
However, expecting a full recovery before the fact of an illness is even agreed upon, is not so realistic. Predicting demise because the doctors are still debating the disease also makes no sense.
I know you want the Republican Party to go away. They want the same from you. Unfortunately, I suspect the Republican Party will survive long after your objections are heard only in heaven.
Our nation is in a very perilous spot with over $14 trillion in debt (over $76 trillion if you add in all of the unfunded mandates). No nation can survive when its debt consumes that large of a percentage of its GDP. This matter will only be greatly exacerbated when the interest rates rise in the near future and we have to fund our debt at even higher interests rates accordingly.
Unfortunately, our biggest contributions to our debt involves our entitlement programs. Personally, I don’t think the government had any constitutional business getting involved with social security and Medicare for just this reason. However, the fact remains that we do have these programs now and people are dependent upon them for their survival. That said, we must honor those promises while maintaining the long term solvency of these programs. If we can do so effectively by restructuring these programs to continue to help those in need now and in the future, while reducing the rapidly approaching insolvency of these programs, we will help our citizens, reduce our debt, help our economy to rebound and bring an upsurge in Republican Party affiliations.
The Democratic alternative seems to be to print or digitize more money, thus causing inflation, raise taxes (particularly on the wealthy, although the definition of whom qualifies under that term will assuredly be defined down over time), and continue the Keynesian stimulus spending that has only prolonged this recession thus far.
If anything, I think we will see the shrinking of the far left’s influence on the Democratic Party long before we do with the right on the Republican party.
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