The race for the 2016 Republican Presidential nomination is in full swing now, over a year away from the actual election, and this cycles crop of candidates presents a classic good news/bad news situation. First the good news: It is Christmas in August for political satirists and late night talk show hosts. It may be cliched, but it is comedy gold. The bad news is far more serious and depressing. Next November, when it is time for the American electorate to head to the polls and choose their President for the next four years, the choice they will be presented with will include one of these candidates.
Once the party of Lincoln, the Grand Old Party has become the victim of a force they themselves created through liberal usage of the “Southern Strategy” along side other effective, yet risky, strategies. Decades of basing their electoral hopes upon the votes of angry white men has backed the party into the proverbial corner now that American demographics have swung enough to make that strategy nonviable. The American electorate continues to become less white, less religious, less sexist, and less homophobic. Meanwhile, the GOP “base,” the extreme fringe that consistently exercises power far out of proportion to their actual number because they actually bother to vote in primary elections, has, if anything, gotten more conservative and less willing to accept any form of compromise. Because of this phenomenon, moderate members of the Republican party holding elected office have been slowly marching towards extinction.
Americans currently reside in a country where the political middle is actually quite a bit to the right of center, especially when compared to Europe. While the GOP’s conservative “base” may be killing the party from the inside, this is one victory they’ll be able to point to for years to come. As the GOP veered ever farther rightwards, it pulled the Democratic party towards the center in hopes of picking up the moderates the new extreme GOP was leaving behind, resulting in a dream scenario for conservatives where policy positions that began as Republican creations are now seen as “liberal” or “socialist.” (See Romneycare….I mean, Obamacare as an example.) True moderate Republicans have their hands tied; do they attempt to actually govern and reach compromises with Congressional Democrats, or do they want to be re-elected? No matter how popular positions such as an increase to the minimum wage, background checks for firearm purchases, or a path to citizenship may be, they are toxic positions for Republicans who know that groups such as the NRA and media such as Fox News will use the extremist “base” to punish these politicians come primary season. The ability to get things done and get elected has become an afterthought to ideological purity.
I would love to be able to look at this slate of candidates and just laugh. I mean, I do laugh, and thankfully there are great comedians (such as Noah, Heath, and Eli at The Skepticrat) out there who can make me snort coffee out my nose instead of cry over the first primary debate. But I have to admit that I am terrified of this election cycle. The demographics have yet to change enough that low turn out plus a scandal couldn’t result in a GOP Presidential win, and that President would have both houses of Congress, allowing him to pretty much have free reign for two years.
And if that doesn’t scare you, you haven’t been paying attention.
Friday will see the first GOP candidate get the Foster Disbelief treatment. Who will be first? Here’s a hint: You should never see him if you are properly preparing for anal sex.