The Death of the Republican Party
Mark it down, the Republican Party is in the beginning of its death throes. The Grand Old Party will continue; it just won’t be grand anymore, just old. And barely a party. Some sort of exodus will drain the party of its fervent base, leaving a feckless and helpless husk. The new party of defectors will have lots of bark but no electoral bite. And with the opposition split, the Democrats will run the table and steer the ship of state for a while, perhaps a generation.
That’s a bold prediction, I realize. We haven’t seen a party’s dissolution in about a century. But there’s no way the GOP can continue on its current path and remain a unity. The party has for decades experienced its success as a coalition of big business, war hawks, and right-wing Christians. But that only worked as long as the form of capitalism the business leaders wanted was adopted as a sort of religion—which has birthed a cult-like worship contrary to the needs of capital. It only worked as long as the bellicose nationalism of the rural, white voters was shared by big business—which it ultimately isn’t. It only worked as long as big business could securely hold the reins and steer their creation—which is no longer the case. And it only worked if the social conservatism of the hardline Christian voters could be seen to be shared by their corporate partners—which no longer holds true.
The Tea Party, a conservative reaction to financial calamity of 2008 and the election of the first Black president, broke the leash strapping the far-right to the larger party. Economic insecurity and racial fear has always been a potent mix, and the Great Recession, combined with white fear of Black and Brown people, changed the game.
Similarly, the libertarian strain in the party has grown into a robust movement. Ron and Rand Paul’s doctrine of fundamentalist capitalism coupled with social liberalism and geopolitical isolationism has begun to peel off young Republicans and leave them without a home in the American political duopoly. The Republican message of “smaller government,” little more than a talking point to the establishment, was taken to heart by the libertarians, and the mantra of small government has begun to threaten that which the GOP holds so dear: the imperial military apparatus.
So, it’s really a tripartite break: the establishment, the Tea Party, and the libertarians. Neither sect can abide the most dearly held tenets of the others.
Earlier this year, the establishment’s greatest hope, New Jersey Governor Chris Christie, attacked libertarians with his typical ferocity, launching the opening salvo in a war with Senator Rand Paul, the libertarians’ leading politician.
READ OUR BREAKDOWN OF CHRISTIE’S ATTACK
Senator Paul clapped back. Then New York Congressman Peter King jumped in, pouncing on Paul. Then the Establishment Republican Of Record, the New York Times’ David Brooks, joined the fray, attacking Paulite libertarianism.
READ OUR BREAKDOWN OF THE BROOKS COLUMN
Meanwhile, Tea Party Republicans, believing that their series of losses in national elections has been due to the selection of candidates not conservative enough, ratcheted up their attack on anything considered to be “establishment.”
The despised Establishment now includes:
- Former GOP presidential candidate and permanent warmonger John McCain
- Evil Genius Karl Rove
- Propaganda outfit Fox News
- The U.S. Senate, pretty much the whole thing apparently
- Any Republican with a sense of racial justice
The establishment Republican vs. “principled conservative” rift opened wider during and after the shutdown battle, when a sort of suicide mission by conservative House Republicans attracted the ire of establishment Republicans, mostly in the Senate. House Tea Partyers were truly on some Thelma and Louise shit, even preparing their constituents back home for the calamitous effects of the default Tea Partyers desired. Georgia Tea Party Caucus member Lynn Westmoreland took to the radio in Athens to warn citizens that the default the House was driving toward would cause “pain.” “No doubt about it,” he said ominously.
READ OUR BREAKDOWN OF REP. WESTMORELAND’S SUICIDE WARNING
Oh, so no one else here wants to drive this son of a bitch off a cliff? That’s been Senator Ted Cruz’s general tenor during the shutdown debate, as he took every opportunity to throw shade not only at Democrats and moderate House Republicans, but also at his own fellow Senate Republicans. With all the decorum and subtlety of a dumptruck, Cruz compared his own colleagues to Nazi appeasers, implying that ceding on the shutdown/default fight was tantamount to permitting the worst genocide in centuries.
READ OUR BREAKDOWN OF SENATOR CRUZ’S “NAZI APPEASER” NONSENSE
The Deep End, Deepened
And the fringe right moves further into the ideological hinterlands. Former presidential candidate and founder of the Tea Party Caucus, Michelle Bachmann, appeared on Christian radio to announce that President Obama is bringing about the End Times. Like, the end of the world. Everybody dies, or at least the vast bulk of humanity considered to be heathens. What kind of partisan consensus can be reached among eschatologically minded quasi-prophets like Bachmann and libertarians who advocate so strongly for a secular nation? The answer is none. No party can sustain such a schism.
READ OUR BREAKDOWN OF BACHMANN’S “END TIMES” PROPHECY
This will leave the Democratic Party with an incredible responsibility. The United States faces unprecedented crises. Its economic power is eroding swiftly, as BRIC nations ascend on the world stage. Wealth and income disparities are producing the conditions for unrest and a breakdown of the social contract. The legacy of racism, sexism and homophobia still plague us. And above us all is an atmosphere getting choked with gaseous refuse of our “progress,” potentially leading us to the greatest threat our species has ever faced. Enjoy your victory, Democrats, but there will be no time for backslapping and victory laps.
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