Bell Curve The Law Talking Guy Raised by Republicans U.S. West
Well, he's kind of had it in for me ever since I accidentally ran over his dog. Actually, replace "accidentally" with "repeatedly," and replace "dog" with "son."

Wednesday, November 05, 2008

Whither the Republican Party?

I have been dreaming of this day since early in Bush II's first term.  That was when it became clear that the Religious Fundamentalists had moved past being a major faction in the GOP to being THE DOMINANT faction in the GOP.  That development was a terrible turn of events for the party and the country.  The 2006 election and the election last night has dealt a devastating body blow to that incarnation of the party.  But will the Fundies (aka "Bigots for Jesus") relinquish control of the party and its platform right away?  No.   We are in phase one of the recreation of the Grand Old Party.  

There are currently no Republican House Reps from New England.  None.  Nada.  The pundits are fond of saying that a party cannot hope to be a majority party in this country unless it can compete in all regions.  As the GOP has been expunged from New England, the party has become increasing Southern and Religious in character.  The fiscal conservatives represented by prominent conservative intellectuals like Andrew Sullivan, Christopher Buckley, George Will etc along with elected moderates like Hagel, Ridge and Collins have been shoved aside within the party.  Religious conservatives like Bush, Dobson, Huckabee, and Palin have been flexing their muscle throughout the last 8 years and in the recent election cycle.  With the increasing Southification of the GOP, their relative power within the party will only rise.  

Those Religious movementarians are now faced with a choice...First, they can moderate their social values litmus test approach to party loyalty and reconcile with moderates and fiscal conservatives.  But this option risks giving up control of the party for good and possibly losing considerable influence over the party's policy positions.  It also risks alienating their local constituents who may see compromise with different kinds of conservatives as "selling out."

Second, they can retrench within the narrowing boundaries of their party, thereby keeping their local constituents happy but giving up any chance of regaining a national majority.  

My guess is that they will go for option 1 for at least the next 2 years.  If Palin is serious about contesting the party's nomination in 2012, this retrenchment could go on for 6 or 8 years.  CORRECTION:  I meant to say the GOP will go for option 2 for the next 2 years at least.

But when the Republican party emerges from this painful process, I have high hopes that they will again become a reasonable political option for thinking people.  I would like to have a viable choice in case the Democrats go nuts and try to ban international trade or something.


The Law Talking Guy said...

The GOP will conclude, I think, that McCain was too liberal and didn't really have the right values. It will run a truly right-wing candidate in 2012. It will be a passionate disaster, George Wallace II.

There is a serious question left as to whether the Republican party is really a national political party anymore, or just a regional political party. They are unable to win outside rural areas, and they have been basically shut out of the northwest and northeast. Meanwhile, Democrats remain competitive even in parts of the South.

So long as Democrats maintain the political center, the GOP will continue to shrink and regionalize.

Dr. Strangelove said...

Unless a transformative figure appears within the GOP to pull them to the center, I think the "Palin bump" in the polls in September--plus the great enthusiasm shown to her at the GOP convention-- will convince the party to do as RbR and LTG believe, and go hard right. That can only help the Democrats.