Sunday, July 12, 2015
The Future of the Republican Party
Honestly, if the Republicans don't get it together, I almost think 2016 could be the end of their reign as one of the two most powerful parties in America. I know they won big in 2014 and I know they have some built-in advantages, like gerrymandering and voter suppression, but I'm not sure even those things will be enough to keep them in the game if they can't impose some discipline and commonsense and cooperation on their members.
So far, that big 2014 win has been a disaster. The Republicans in Congress have accomplished exactly nothing. They started with such high expectations. "Watch how we roll!" they exclaimed. So, we've watched but they haven't even made it on to the track yet, much less started rolling.
The Democrats proposed legislation to remove the Confederate flag from our national parks and, low and behold, it passed! Until the Republicans belatedly noticed what had happened, that is, and threw a hissy fit, screaming and shouting on the floor of the House. As a result, John Boehner put up another bill rescinding the first bill. Of course, Democrats were livid about that so in the end, Boehner pulled his own bill. That's about how things have worked in the Republican Congress so far.
Remember how they were going to concentrate on jobs, jobs, jobs? Well, they just killed the infrastructure bill. At the present time, the issue of immigration reform is roiling their campaign but not only have they not passed an immigration bill, they haven't even proposed one.
They probably sighed in secret relief when the Supreme Court validated Obamacare because they had no plan whatsoever for how to deal with millions of Americans suddenly without healthcare.
Naturally, they have literally been foaming at the mouth about gay marriage although the majority of American don't even consider it an issue and have moved on.
Their nomination process for 2016 has been an unmitigated disaster. For years, Iowa (a midwestern state), New Hampshire (a northeastern state) and South Carolina (a southern state) have been the start of winnowing the candidates. Sure, sometimes it gets a little farcical with politicians petting pigs and kissing babies and eating deep-fried Milky Ways, trying to look like down home good old boys and girls but still, it was retail politics, and they had to convince real voters to cast real votes. Between these widely disparate states, we began to get a sense of who was actually viable.
But this year, the Republicans turned the power over to Fox News. Fox, and Fox alone, get to decide who is worthy based on polls that mean nothing at this point. But if you don't charge right up to the top ten early on, Fox says you can't take part in the debate, effectively killing your candidacy. Why bother going to Iowa, New Hampshire and South Carolina? Fox has spoken.
It's odd, isn't it? Fox was created to be the servant of the Republicans, protecting and explaining and defending the GOP. Always on their side - right, wrong or indifferent. But in 2015, the servant pulled off a coup and became the master. It is no longer the Republicans pulling the channel's strings but Fox pulling the party's strings.
This has made the under-top-ten candidates a little testy. "Who the hell is Fox News?" they now demand to know, after it is too late. Of course, if you're in the stop ten, you're probably happy because Fox eliminated about half of your competitors for you.
And while all this is going on, Donald's Trump's bullying rampage against his opponents has taken him to the top. The Republican base evidently loves this stuff but I doubt if the party leadership does. Good old Donald calling the rest of the Republicans wimps and fools and idiots. Good old Donald, alienating vital Hispanic voters. Good old Donald, who can't be stopped because he's funding his own campaign and is accountable to no one. A bull in a china shop is dainty compared to The Donald and the Republican presidential field.
And I expect Fox is licking its lips at the prospect of Trump in a debate, throwing punches right and left. Because a cable network is first and foremost about its bottom line and it is entertainment that swells its bottom line. Fox may be loyal to a point but when ratings are involved, all bets are off. Sorry, guys. You trusted the wrong ally (which doesn't bode well for your diplomatic and negotiating skills should any of you become president - heaven forbid!)
All this is rather delicious for a liberal Democrat to sit back and watch but its sad too to see a once proud party reduced to what the GOP has become - a party in thrall to its crybaby base, a party that can't get out of its own way long enough to accomplish anything, a party that makes it decisions based on how much they hate the current president rather than what's good for the country, a party that seems to dislike most of its constituents including gays and African-Americans and Latinos and women and poor people and students.
If you think you feel the earth move now and then, it is probably Abraham Lincoln and Theodore Roosevelt and Dwight Eisenhower and even Ronald Reagan rolling over in their graves.