It’s almost funny.
Okay, I’m lying. It isn’t “almost” funny, it is straight out hilarious. But once the laughter dies out, we are left with the sad reality of a major political party imploding in front of our eyes with devastating effects on the nation. Perhaps other democracies could weather a similar storm better, perhaps not, but what is undeniable is that our system, with its two major political parties accompanied by several meaningless “3rd” parties, is badly damaged when one of the two main parties, if you pardon my french, shits the bed.
I admit to having liberal pipe dreams of a reality where progressives held super majorities in both houses of Congress alongside the presidency, the same dreams I’m sure many conservatives have substituting in their own party, where economic and social reforms pass into law as fast as the Speaker can call the vote. I also know that the scenario is not only unrealistic, but also not in the best interest of the nation. The thought of the GOP with a rubber stamp, able to pass any legislation they desire rightfully scares me, but it’s not like I trust the Democratic party with that kind of power either. They may give us a 15$ minimum wage and true nationalized health care, but we’d need it with all the unvaccinated kids running around, making sure there’s no GMOs out there, increasing yields and feeding hungry people.
Those are extreme examples of liberal idiocy, and I understand that there are anti-vax nuts who consider themselves conservatives as well, but the point is simple. Conflict, argument, and debate yields better policy than rubber stamps. No matter what party is in power, our system demands a strong opposition party. We have ways for the minority party to affect legislation built in to the system. I’m not running a civics class here, but the framework the founders set up encourages discussion and compromise, with the understanding that no matter how much members may disagree on issues, everyone is working for the betterment of the United States and its citizens.
Decades ago, when the GOP set “The Southern Strategy”in motion, no one understood what kind of monster they were building. What they knew was that it worked. The demographics at the time allowed Republicans to win elections on the strength of nothing but the votes of white men, as they routinely lost all other categories. The cycle was now in place, as each election victory the Christian social conservatives delivered to the GOP caused the Republicans to cater to them more, counting on their turn out to get them the needed votes. But when you court no one other than one narrow group, you risk irrelevance if that group ever falls out of power. Perhaps in the 1970’s Republican strategists honestly believed the nation would always be majority Caucasian. Perhaps they just didn’t care, figuring the strategists who came later would change tactics when the demographics warranted the switch. Maybe they were just really racist. Whatever the case was in the previous decades, today we live in a different country, both demographically and culturally. The GOP has found itself in no-man’s land.
That “base” of the party that they spent so many years cultivating, through fear, xenophobia, and extremist rhetoric, makes up less of the population than ever. After the 2012 election cycle, many members of the GOP admitted that in order to win the presidency, they would have to branch out and attract other groups. No longer was “The Southern Strategy” a viable path to the White House. Yet almost as soon as those words were printed, those who spoke them began to walk them back. While that “base” wield less power than ever nationally, within the GOP it is an entirely different story. For in a country notorious for poor electoral participation, the so-called “base” exercises their right to vote yearly, and there are enough of them to cost GOP Congressmen and women their seat in primary elections if they are seen as RINOs, leading GOP representatives and senators to have to worry about challenges not only from the left, but from their right as well.
Who is this “base” that has taken control of the GOP? They are the creations of right-wing talk radio, Fox News (Fair and Balanced!), and the Republican parties own propaganda. They value ideological purity, not the ability to compromise. They want what they want and are willing to watch the whole system crash and burn if they don’t get it. They are poisonous to the party they claim as their own. If you don’t see that, chances are you are one of them, as even many Republicans understand the damage they are doing.
Speaker Boehner resigned before teaming with the Democrats to pass a spending bill keeping the lights on in the Government til December, avoiding an unprecedented challenge to his leadership by “fellow” Republicans who want to shut the government down over deceptively edited hit videos on Planned Parenthood. His almost definite successor, Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy, became much less definite after withdrawing from consideration yesterday. McCarthy was just about as conservative as they come, as was Speaker Boehner. They also believe in the system, and understand two vital rules in politics; you can’t always get what you want, and some hills are not worth dying over. Why the hell would McCarthy take the job if he was destined to face the same attacks from his own party as Boehner suffered?
Perhaps the situation was best summed up by Representative Peter King (R-NY):
“This is unprecedented to have a small group, a tiny minority, hijack the party and blackmail the House,” said Rep. Peter King of New York.
Yep, sure is. Wait til December when they shut down the government.
We’re living through history, boys and girls, make sure to pay attention. The GOP has to deal with their creation, and no matter how they choose to do it, it isn’t going to be pretty, unfortunately, for either the Grand Old Party or the nation as a whole. Sure it’s fun to watch them flounder and suffer the consequences of their own design, but those consequences affect all of us.