Friday, October 11, 2013


John Judis has a new piece up at The New Republic titled "The Last Days of the GOP: We Could Be Witnessing the Death Throes of the Republican Party." At Salon, Elias Isquith is thinking along similar lines: "Tea Party Secedes: The GOP Civil War Is Over, and So Is the GOP" The latter piece carries this subhead: "The Republicans are two different parties now -- how long will it be before the Tea Party becomes a third party?"

How long? Pretty damn long, I'd say. The GOP is not going to crack up. There isn't going to be a significant teabagger third party.

Judis and Isquith cite the same phenomena as evidence that a crack-up is imminent: on the one hand, the belief among members of the crazy voter base that even extremely conservative GOP officeholders are RINO squishes, and on the other hand, the disillusionment of the business community with the recent crazification of the party.

Trust me, these folks are going to work this out. First of all, crazy-base disappointment with the GOP is not exactly new. Crazy-base voters thought John McCain was a pathetic RINO. Did they bolt for a third party? No. They felt the same way in 2012 about Mitt Romney. Did they bolt then? No. They never bolt, because they hate liberals, Democrats, and the Democratic voter base as they perceive it (i.e., non-white moochers) far more than they hate one another.

And they've been disappointed for years anyway -- abortion is still legal, government is still (in their eyes) big and socialist, America is still (in their eyes) perpetually under assault by gays, Christian-bashers, gun-grabbers, etc., etc. Isquith writes the following, but doesn't seem to grasp the implications:
Ross Douthat has ... offered a useful window into Tea Party thinking, explaining that, for the Tea Party, the past 40 years of American politics hasn't been one in which conservatism was on the rise. On the contrary, it's been a prolonged period of "failure," all because the New Deal and the Great Society have merely been whittled away -- and not banished completely. The result of this apocalyptic thinking is a group of legislators who believe that now is their last chance to right a series of historic wrongs. They feel they have nothing to lose.
Well, maybe -- but it also means that they've gotten used to feeling as if they're perpetually under siege. That feeling nourishes them. They may think doomsday is imminent, but they always think doomsday is imminent. The only thing that's really changed is that they've started to think they can prevent doomsday from arriving, reverse the tides of history, and establish their utopia. But they'll cope with the disappointment that will come when they realize their utopia unattainable. They'll just revert to a pleasurable state of feeling persecuted. They love that. They'll vote RINO, because what do you expect? They should vote for a Democrat?

Yes, but what about the mainstream business community? Aren't the captains of industry becoming disillusioned with the GOP? Well, yes -- but don't make too much of this. Judis imagines a breakthrough moment when big business starts cheating on the GOP with another party:
In Washington, today's business lobbies may come to understand what the lobbies of the '50s grasped -- that the Democratic Party is a small "c" conservative party that has sought to preserve and protect American capitalism by sanding off its rough edges. Joe Echevarria, the chief executive of Deloitte, the accounting and consulting firm, recently told The New York Times, "I'm a Republican by definition and by registration, but the party seems to have split into two factions." Echevarria added that while the Democrats also had an extreme faction, it had no power in the party, while the Republican's extreme faction did. "The extreme right has 90 seats in the House," he said. "Occupy Wall Street has no seats." That realization could lead business to resume splitting its contributions, which would spell trouble for the Republicans.
Except that Judis offers no evidence whatsoever that mainstream business leaders actually are thinking about doing any giving to Democrats. Instead, they merely seem to be thinking about limiting their donations to non-crazy Republicans:
"The business community has got to stand up and say we are not going to back the most self-described conservative candidate. We are going to back the candidates that are the most rational," says John Feehery, a former aide to [Tom] DeLay and [Dennis] Hastert who is now president of Quinn Gillespie & Associates, a Washington lobbying firm.
So they'll give to corporatist, non-teabagger Republicans. And we know from the '08 and '12 elections that when teabag voters can't defeat non-teabag candidates, they suck it up and vote for them, because the alternative is voting for Satan.

I think that's the future of the GOP. This may not be a happy marriage, but it's not going to break up.


Victor said...

Internally, the Republicans may have had their differences over the years, but they have held together.

For decades, they have been a fairly tightly-held confederation (pun, intended) of big business, anti-Socialism/Communism, and Evangelical Christians.

Most recently, they added another Manichean group, the John Birchers - and blended them into the Tea Party.

Now, they're having a big spat.

But, they won't break-up.

What will hold them together - is their absolute hatred of ALL things Liberal/Progressive!!!

As I've said countless times, Modern Conservatism has had no ideas for decades.

Conservatives are no longer proactive.
They are reactive.

They are FOR any and every thing that Liberals/Progressives are AGAINST!
And AGAINST any and every thing that Liberals/Progressives are FOR!

And this can change on a moments notice, if/when Liberals/Progressives, adjust their views.

For example:
The Heritage Foundation, free-market plan for Bob Dole's run for President in the '96 race - and later implemented by Republican Governor Mitt Romney, in MA, in anticipation of using it as a selling point to get elected.

Instead, once adapted by the Democrats, virtually the same plan became a SocialistFascistCommunist plot against America, freedom, and liberty - and associated with Satan, and Armageddon.

I suspect that what we're seeing lately, is the result of traumatic brain injuries caused by doing a complete 180 at such high speed, in such a quick period of time!

sdhays said...

I agree that there's not going to be a breakup; both parties have done a very effective job of ensuring that we will always be a two party nation (although it will be interesting what comes about in California with their reforms). The Tea Party and Christianists have no other home; business will always hate people who want to spend taxpayer money on anything other than their business and thus will always be uncomfortable with the most "pro-business" Democrat. However, business really could draw back from it's 100% support of the Republican Party. The demographic trends mean that the Democrats are ascendant since the Republican Party is not interested at all in broadening its base. That means that in a few years, if you want something from Washington, you're probably going to have to involve some Democrats, and your Republican friends aren't going to be very useful unless they have good working relationships with Democrats.

Now, obviously, there's no reason to get ahead of yourself; it makes sense to try to get as much as you can out of your favorite party while it still has some power. However, this is where this month may have changed that calculation, at least temporarily, and that may be all that's necessary. If business tries to take out some Tea Party Republicans in the 2014 primaries and fails (which I think is almost certain if they try), they may decide to hold back on supporting Republicans in the 2014 general election. They also may just decide to sit out to give the Tea Party a lesson in how much they need business and shouldn't be so quick to ignore their demands; how much of business frustration is due to the Tea Party help not listening when told to shut up? It's time they knew their place!

2014 is a year away, so no one knows what the situation will be then. But it's quite possible that the events of this month (and next? I hope not) will be cemented enough in Democratic voters' minds that Democratic turnout will be higher than usual in a mid-term election. And with tepid support from business, Republican efforts may be considerably less effective than in 2012 and 2010. Also, we'll be a year in on ObamaCare. A lot more people will be immune to the hyperbole that's been swirling around ObamaCare for the past three years, and that could change some votes or keep some votes at home.

If the Democrats take the House and hold the Senate in 2014, it may be a very long time before the Republicans get power again. After the Great Depression, they had nothing in the Federal government for 20 years and they didn't start to regain a commanding position until the 1980's; it could happen again. Smart business leaders would start hedging their bets.

This isn't a prediction, but I do see it as a possibility.

White Hat said...

You are a rationalist, my friend. 2/3 of today's Republican party are not rational.

That 2/3 doesn't have the financing to create and maintain popular memes. People are already with them or never will be.

Boehner's current antics represent the high point of the Tea Party's influence. His 2/3rds-of-the-GOP- driven mugging of the government faces massive opposition from half the country (Democrats) PLUS the remaining third of the GOP, the traditional Big Money backers of the Republican party. You know, the group that currently controls 90% of the country's money. The most successful, most sophisticated, most savvy, most ruthless people in America.

If it wasn't obvious to those scary-powerful people before now, it's clear now: The Tea Party has to go. Big Money created the Tea Party, and they will end it.

What could possibly convince a realist like you to bet against Big Money? You think dumbshits make up their own minds?

You think there's some kind of meme-proof dumbshit mental inertia?

Memes get generated, spread and adopted at the speed of the Internet. If you need any proof, consider how quickly the Tea Party was formed. It hit the national news cameras within weeks of its initial funding.

Easy come, easy go. Start collecting Tea Party memorabilia. They're soon to be historical artifacts.

Probably. What do I know? I'm a rationalist too.

White Hat said...

News flash:

And so it begins.

Luigi said...

Agreed. Also, remember, the media loves the two party system and would starve any breakup by not covering it realistically. It does not have time or patience to deal with multiple parties. Heck, that would mean they would have to work for a living!

neroden@gmail said...

The two-party system is caused by Duverger's Law -- it is inevitable when you have elections in single-member, single-winner districts with "first past the post" elections. (Actually, it's inevitable in "instant runoff voting" too.) It can be avoided with "proportional representation" such as they use in Germany and many other places.

So, until we change our electoral system, we'll have two parties.

This doesn't mean that it has to be THESE two parties.

The Republican Party is quite likely to go the way of the Whigs. That leaves an opening for a SECOND party.

neroden@gmail said...

"So they'll give to corporatist, non-teabagger Republicans"
(1) There aren't enough left
(2) They're being forced out by the internal party committees
(3) The Republican Party has now been structured (rules changes under GW Bush) to be nonresponsive to demands for change
(4) It's gonna be so much easier for the sensible big businessmen to just buy Democrats

neroden@gmail said...

The Republicans will crack up the way the Whigs cracked up: by expelling all the decent people. (The Whigs expelled the anti-slavery Whigs.)

It may seem like there are no decent people left in the Republican Party for them to throw out, but they're just getting more and more aggressive about throwing people out, so now they're throwing out even fairly nasty people for not being nasty enough.