Hypothesis: The significant GOP victory in the 2014 mid term elections was actually the worst thing that could have happened to both the Republican party and our political system as a whole.
Reason: In the immediate aftermath of the GOP’s humiliating defeat in the 2012 Presidential election, it seemed like there was some real traction for moving away from the infamous “Southern Strategy” and the more extreme views of the so-called “base,” in the face of demographic trends and the realization that any national election victories would require a vast improvement in Latino outreach. However, as the year moved on it seemed as if the more radical fringe of the party was making one last push with the old “we lost because we weren’t conservative enough” song and dance and the party switched direction once again. (Well, if it had really ever changed course in the first place.) Then, unfortunately, in 2014 the “super conservative method” hit the jackpot as the GOP cleaned up in seemingly ever meaningful election. (Thankfully, not in Pennsylvania. Poor Corbett. *cry*)
This is horrible for the Republican party, because it keeps them wedded to doomed strategy for national elections, and horrid for the political system on the whole because it continues to cram state legislatures and the House of Representatives with the most radical parts of the GOP; those who can survive a Republican primary.
We need to remember that 2014 was a mid term election with embarrassingly poor turnout. (It is such a shame that American citizens care so little about their civic duty to inform themselves and vote, but, I guess that is a future essay.) The electorate that handed that “huge”victory (actually, more people voted for Democrats overall in the 2014 midterms, but thanks to gerrymandering and other neat tricks that overall popular vote advantage turned into a Republican rout) is not going to look anything like the electorate that turns out for the 2016 Presidential election. And yet the current crop of possible Republican nominees are currently running to win a GOP primary in a deep red state, trapped between the need to appeal to the anti-immigration, anti-gay marriage. ultra-conservative fringe that, thanks to its reliable voting patterns, is often the deciding factor in primaries, and the need to not burn too many bridges when it comes time to face an electorate that believes in marriage equality and other much more moderate, if not downright liberal views, and includes large amounts of Hispanic voters.
Have we truly reached the stage where the “Southern Strategy” can no longer win a national election? I personally believe that we have, yet I am not foolish enough to think that means a GOP win, even with their current ultra-conservative flavor, is impossible. A tragedy or a scandal after the nominees are set can change the results of any election. And it may be that we just aren’t quite there yet on the demographic scale, and other trends will give the White House to a Republican after two Democratic terms. But we will be there soon on the demographic scale.
It is time, Republicans. It is time for you to look at the polls, look at the stats, look at the demographics and all the data you can find, time to move away from “Southern Strategy” and conservative social issue based policies and reinvent the party for the 21st century. If you don’t do it proactively, it will happen anyway at some date when the business community can no longer truck with the backlash caused by the anti-immigration, anti-homosexual, racist dog whistling “base” of the party, and if it blows up like that it is sure to be worse than a controlled reinvention, once again both for the GOP and the political system as a whole.
As much of a progressive liberal as I am, I understand that we need at least two strong political parties to have our system work effectively. When either side has too much power we get the worst ideas, because there is no strong opposition to argue, debate, and make the resulting legislation stronger. We need you, GOP.
Come on, you are the party of Lincoln. Don’t go down in history as the anti-science, anti-sex, anti-contraception, anti-women, anti-equality, anti-history, anti-education, “Government should only exist to force our Christian morals on you” mockery of what once was the Grand Old Party.