(11 am. – promoted by ek hornbeck)
There has been a lot of talk about the demise of the Republican Party. The Dog has, himself, been part of this talk. Whenever this topic comes up there are those that point out the various times where the Republican Party or even the Democratic Party were down and looked as though they might be out, then have come back in with surprising swiftness. These arguments are true as far as they go but one of the major failings the Dog always finds with these comparisons is they only look at the results and fail to take into account the circumstances which allowed these changes of fortunes for the Party.
“Originally posted at Squarestate.net“
One of the major influencers has been the direction of the nation over time. This is often ignored by folks making the come back argument. Over the last 30 years we have been seeing a general trend towards a more conservative point of view. This coincides with the aging of the Baby Boomer generation. It is a sociological fact that folks tend to be come more conservative as they age, so the fact that the biggest generation, to that point, in American history were all moving towards middle age at the same time it make sense that the conservative point of view would gain traction.
As the Generation Y citizens have grown up and become more politically active in their 30’s they are overcoming the conservatism of their parents the Baby Boomers. This combined with the consequences of eight years of Republican rule is how we have gotten to this place where the Democrats control both Houses of Congress and the White House. But a big part of our electoral victory was the ability of our Party and President Obama in particular to articulate a positive vision for the future.
In the 2000 election, then Governor Bush had this positive message on two fronts. First he and his campaign talked about returning honor and dignity to the White House. We can see from this vantage of 2009 how completely hollow that message was, but at the time the nation was tiered of the controversies (real and fabricated) of the Clinton Presidency. This made the returning honor and dignity message an appealing one.
The other positive vision was the “Compassionate Conservative” meme. It was just what independents who leaned Republican wanted to hear, a Republican Candidate who was not tied to the perceived meanness of the Republican culture warriors. These two factors combined were enough to get President Bush close enough for the Supreme Court to award the Presidency to Mr. Bush.
When he was a candidate President Obama took a lot of heat for making “inspirational” speeches, but being short on details. The second part of the slam was spurious, of course as his website was packed with details that have no real place in a stump speech. Most importantly he was articulating a vision for America that was positive, a vision which said we could solve the myriad problems facing us at the end of the Bush Administrations years of misrule.
This is exactly why the Dog is not concerned with the specter of the Republican Party suddenly getting their act together. In order for them to come back as a Party, in fact in order for them to unify again, they must be able to articulate this positive vision. The problem for them is, they have also come off of eight years of Republican rule. They had everything they ever wanted. This means all they can think of is they want to go back to the way things were.
It is one of the things we on the Left find so mystifying but the Republicans really do not see the last eight years as a failure of their policies and tactics. One of the pillars of modern Conservatism is that Conservatism never fails; only people fail it. These is how they can hold the conflicting ideas in their minds that President Bush was a bad president and bad for their Party, but still want to follow, to a higher extreme the radical policies of his administration.
It is the failure of the Republican Party to understand the fact the public has made up its mind about the policies of the last eight years and the verdict is not a positive one that is going to keep their Part out of power of the some time to come. If their message through their candidates, whether for national or State level office continues to be a return the policies of the Bush era, then they will continue to lose at the ballot box. This is part of why Gov. Jindal was such a flop when he gave the Republican response the President’s address to the Joint session of Congress (what in any other year would be the State of the Union Address). He was shackled to the Party line which had been roundly defeated in only a few months before.
The Dog thinks it will take at least three more election cycles (2010, 2012 and 2014) before the Republican Party will finally be able to find some way to articulate a positive vision for the US. It is clear from the internecine fights going on now they will not be able to accept the failure of their policy by the 2010 elections. As long as their primary focus is keeping their base energized, which to Republicans means angry and afraid, and are not focused on how to address the concerns of the people as a whole they will not gain any traction. This is true even if we have some major catastrophe (beyond the ongoing economic one) like a major domestic terror attack.
While 9/11 helped to grow the Republican majority in the House and Senate and was still traumatic enough to allow President Bush to be re-elected, another attack, even as big as 9/11 would not have the same level of shock as it has happened before. It would still require more than the Cheney clan running around saying “We told you so” to bring the majority of the people over the failed domestic and foreign policy prescriptions of the Republican Party.
Further out in 2012 it we will see, at the Presidential level, the same dynamics as 2010. The Republican Party has never nominated someone fresh and unknown.. Even their patron deity, Ronald Regan, had to run for president and not be nominated before eventually becoming the pick of the Party. We will see the same faces we saw last time, with perhaps the addition of Governors Pawlenty and Jindal. Who ever the candidate is they will have to face the Republican Primaries with the Club for Growth and the Religious Right demanding they hold to each groups policy. The problem is, of course, these are the old ideas and it is not really possible to articulate a positive vision, which the public will accept, from the old ideas they have already rejected.
It is harder to see to 2014, the Dog’s crystal ball went the cleaners and has never been the same since. It is possible we will see the Republicans gain some traction, as the Democrats did in 2006, but it seems more likely the nation will be enjoying the fruits of the work we are doing now and will still be swinging more to the Liberal point of view. Again it will require candidates and leaders who will have figured out they can not go back to their salad days of the Bush era, but must find new ways to make the case, positive ways to make the case for Conservative policy which actually addresses the needs of the people at that time. If they fail to do so, they will stay in the political wilderness.
The Dog is unconvinced they will be this fast in making the changes they must to become relevant again. There are grave dangers for them splitting into two smaller parties or pushing all the moderates out of their party and having no structure to generate the self introspection and ideas which will lead them back to prominence in American politics. This could mean the end of the Republican Party, and the start of something new, but since we have never in living memory seen a major Party die, it is hard to say what the real chances of this are.
In any case it the Dog is ready to say while the Republicans might come back, there is very little chance of them doing so anytime in the next five years. This means we should be pushing our Democratic Reps and Senators to act in more liberally during this “safe” time, as it is an opportunity to move our agenda forward in ways that may or may not be available in the future. When things favor you structurally, you have to take advantage of them, this is one of those times.
The floor is yours.