The Republican Party is not doomed to disappear

Some smart people think the Republican Party is doomed because of the government shutdown debacle.  But Republicans have come back from worse than this.

The Republicans came back from the failures of the George W. Bush administration, from the Newt Gingrich-led shutdown in the 1990s, from the Watergate scandals, and from the Goldwater defeat in 1964.  So I think the Republican Party is going to be with us for the foreseeable future.

bs-ed-horsey-gloomy-gop-20130429American laws and customs make it difficult to challenge the two-party system.  It’s hard for third party candidates to get on a ballot.  Even when they do, few if any journalists take them seriously or give them equal treatment.  Both Democrats and Republicans have a solid base of supporters who will vote for them no matter what.  I don’t see this changing any time soon.

Republicans have a problem in that there is a conflict between their core supporters and their core financial contributors.  The U.S. Chamber of Commerce and the National Association of Manufacturers don’t want the government to be shut down.  But the Democrats have the same conflict between what their core voters want and what their campaign donors want.  Silicon Valley and Wall Street donors won’t want a higher minimum wage, a better social safety net or higher upper-bracket taxes.

Partly because the two parties are so much alike in their economic and foreign policies, voters tend to divide along ethnic, regional and generational lines.  Demographic trends are running against the Republican Party, but party leaders have an answer to that:  Rig the election against the demographic groups that tend to vote Democratic.  Techniques include gerrymandering, voter ID laws and other restrictions and possibly tampering with hack-able touch-screen voting machines.  This is reprehensible, but that doesn’t mean it can’t work.

Franklin Roosevelt was elected in 1932 because the American people thought the Herbert Hoover administration was a failure.  But he was re-elected in 1936 and set the stage for decades of Democratic power because of the popularity of the New Deal.

The Democrats have no such positive program today.   The Tea Party Republicans do stand for something, and have the courage of their convictions, as flawed as these may be.   Democrats when in power—Jimmy Carter, Bill Clinton, Barack Obama—govern as if they were the Republican B Team, the replacements for when the Republicans mess up.

LINKS

GOP Death Watch: The Final Days of the Republican Party by John B. Judis in The New Republic.  Judis is an astute observer, but I think he is engaged in wishful thinking.

Rumors of the GOP’s death are much exaggerated by “Thoreau” on Unqualified Offerings.  I completely agree with this.

The future of the Republican Party by Nate Silver on Grantland.  Silver said the government shutdown crisis hurt the Republican Party, but it’s too soon to say how much this will affect election results in 2014 and 2016.

Tea Party radicalism is misunderstood: Meet the “Newest Right” by Michael Lind for Salon.  Lind argued that the Tea Party movement did not emerge out of nowhere, but has deep historic roots, especially in the South, going back to the days of Thomas Jefferson and Andrew Jackson.

Anger Can Be Power by Thomas B. Edsall in the New York Times.  One thing you can say for the Tea Party movement is that it expresses the justified anger of the embattled American middle class.

Kansas Secretary of State Has Plan to Keep 17,500 Legal Voters from Voting by Brad Friedman for TruthOut.   The plan is to create a two-tier voting system, in which people eligible to vote in federal elections won’t necessarily be eligible to vote in state elections.

Judge Posner’s Surprise Disavowal of His Own Photo ID Ruling Creates Stir by Brad Friedman for the Brad Blog.  Judge Richard Posner of the U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals said he wouldn’t have upheld the constitutionality of laws requiring photo ID for voters in 2007 if he had realized at the time how these laws were abused.  His decision was the basis of a 2008 Supreme Court decision upholding the constitutionality of photo law laws.

Americans do not need two corporatist, militarist parties.  Personally I would be happy to see the Democrats be replaced or taken over by progressives, and the Republicans be replaced or taken over by libertarians.  Then we voters would have a meaningful choice.

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2 Responses to “The Republican Party is not doomed to disappear”

  1. Chico Says:

    And if the Republicans went away, we wouldn’t have anyone to be better than. 🙂

    Like

  2. philebersole Says:

    The vast majority of Republicans are well-meaning, sensible people who are misinformed by their leaders.

    Just like the vast majority of Democrats.

    Like

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