Will the GOP ever learn?

(Whither now GOP?  I foresee a pogrom and purge.  The question I have is which faction wins?   – promoted by ClubTwitty)

I wrote about the challenges of the GOP 3 years ago, here: http://www.coloradopols.com/di…

From what I can see, and continue to read, the GOP has completely failed to adapt to the changing political landscape.  Others have written extensively on the reasons Mr. Romney lost – and, in my view, he lost rather decisively.  The race was not as close as many Republicans would like to believe, and the demographic trends are not in their favor.  

The GOP’s blind and headlong race to oblivion is not a positive development in American politics.  We as a country thrive when our elected representatives can talk to, and work with, each other.  We need them to approach representing us not with hellfire and brimstone, but with reason and understanding of the broader context in which they work.  

The GOP should be concerned that despite putting forward their best candidate in Mr. Romney that they lost so decisively.  While there is talk of the need of the GOP to be more inclusive, I would point out that the same talk took place after the 2008 election.  Nothing, it seems, has changed.  

I wrote a letter to Senator McCain following his defeat in 2008 where I explained why I voted for Mr. Obama despite being, on the surface, a classic GOP voter.  Much of the criticism is true today:

“I am also troubled by some of the positions of the Republican party, since I believe they are contradictory, and in some cases contradictory to my personal values.  For example, the party claims to believe in limited government, which I agree with completely, but in the last eight years the government has expanded tremendously.  The so-called “Patriot Act” is, to me, an outrageous expansion of governmental power, with no oversight, that invades and damages the very concept of individual liberty.  Benjamin Franklin is exactly correct when he says that those who would sacrifice liberty for temporary security will not receive either and do not deserved either one.  The balance between security and liberty must, in my opinion, come down on the side of liberty, lest we be attempting to secure something we no longer have.  

Another example is the emphasis of the party on wealthy Americans at the expense of 95% of the rest of the population.  (We can certainly disagree on the actual percentage, but I hope you take the point.)  I believe the party lost touch with mainstream Americans with respect to economic issues, who have watched with complete disgust the unfolding of the various corporate scandals where executives walked away with millions of dollars while the employees were lucky if their paychecks cleared.  And that is before the impact of the current economic challenge, and the hostility of the general public to the so-called “bail-out” bill that was so recently enacted.  

Finally, I think the party let itself be held hostage by the so-called “Christian right” on many social issues, and that many Americans are turned off by such positions.  For example, abortion is an issue that I believe the government has no power or right to involve itself in.  Thus, the position against abortion conflicts with the concept of individual liberty.  Gay rights are another example.  To actively work to suppress the rights of a group of people because of how they were born is simply abhorrent.  If the concept of “custos mores,” or government as “The Guardian of Morals,” is not yet dead and buried, I believe it should be.  Attempts to impose a particular morality on anyone conflict directly with the claimed core principle of the party as supporting individual liberty.”

In short, I hope the GOP can adapt itself to the changing realities of American politics.  Or, in other words, that it can move “forward” and prevent itself from becoming any more obsolete than it is.  I think there is an opportunity for the GOP to do so, because it will only get harder to do as time progresses.

32 Community Comments, Facebook Comments

  1. MADCO says:

    blah blah blah

    The problem in American politics was, is and will be the voters.  It’s how it was designed.  They just won’t do what  candidates want them to do. Instead, they insist on voting the  way they want for the reasons they want.  Two party dominance doesn’t result in better gov’t, but easier electioneering.  HIstorically, candidates could go to the county fair grounds in one place and talk about buyer’s remorse or spreading the wealth and then go to the next place and say something else.  No more.

    End the dominance of the two parties – end the “ez” campaign.

    We’re all celebrating the highly visible split / destruction / confusion in the GOTP.  But what’s really in the works is the dissipation of the two-party dominance.

    Jill Stein was right about wayy more than not.  Who?  Exactly.

    Gary Johnson was wrong about most of the big questions facing the USA  But he’s going to get some press because so many disaffected and frustrated R’s still wanted to vote and Ron Paul was too…. comfortable.

  2. Albert J. Nock says:

    Automatic FTP wrote: “The so-called “Patriot Act” is, to me, an outrageous expansion of governmental power, with no oversight, that invades and damages the very concept of individual liberty.”

    Obama signed the patriot act.  


    Obama signed the NDAA.


    AFTP wrote : “Another example is the emphasis of the party on wealthy Americans at the expense of 95% of the rest of the population.”

    Bernanke and Obama have injected more money into the top of the pyramid than all other FedReserve/President duo’s combined. This new money has massive value(purchasing power) when it is first injected, however loses most of its purchasing power by the time it makes into the hands of the average person.

      Why not send all Quantitative easing and other stimulus directly to those earning less than 100K and allow the money to trickle up?

  3. Fidel's dirt nap says:

    (I forget who) but that inevitably parts of the GOP brain trust would come out with the idea that “they weren’t conservative enough” in this whole GOP hand wringing affair/election post mortem/soul searching exercise. They didn’t stick to their conservative beliefs, so thats why they lost the election. Really ?

    Whomever that polster was they were exactly right, because a few die hards are starting to put this out.  Are conservatives really that delusional ?

    I’m really fine with them wanting to lose more elections, but is reality anywhere in the room ?  Jesus.

    • among others.

      I’m happy to have seen at least the beginnings of soul-searching among some GOP figures. Heck, even Rush Limbaugh admits that this isn’t just a fluke, that it’s a trend. Of course, then he agonized over whether it simply means that Republicans and the country are lost – but it’s a start. Similarly, Ben Stein recently admitted that we need to raise tax rates if we’re going to fix the debt problem; he proposed a much slower and more modest fix than what will really be needed, but again – it’s a start.

      The problem is – and I have said this for many years (look in the archives) – that Republicans have kept themselves in power for the past 30 years by grabbing on to and assimilating activist and often extremist movements – first the disaffected “states’ rights” Dixiecrats, then Christian Conservatives and most recently the Tea Party. These people turn out in droves, and they are now the vast majority of the base of the party. Republican elected officials have little choice but to keep them happy. (And at the same time they have to keep their big business partners happy or the money dries up…) Change toward the moderate, and the base will stay at home and they’d lose big-time in 2014.

      Can moderates and pragmatists still in the GOP leadership turn it around? Gonna be tough. Recall that Boehner had to do an about-face when he said he’d work with the President on the budget – one day there was a budget deal, the next he said he didn’t have the support of his caucus.

      • Fidel's dirt nap says:

        I just don’t think they are going to be able to keep everybody happy anymore.  If a verbal gymnast like Romney can’t placate the hard cores then win the general I don’t see anyone else doing it either.

        I do know a lot of moderate Republicans that have really had enough though who feel the same way as Craig here.  I wonder what they’ll do, if anything.

        • Some portion of the top GOP leadership and strategists are looking at Tuesday night and going “this is as far up the hill as we get in our current state”. They hold the majority in the House, but they’ll be losing seats over time as demographics continue to shift. They worked their butts off to get the Presidency and they turned out their base in record numbers, but they still lost, because they’re losing everyone else.

          That’s the reality of it – even Rush knows that. The GOP can continue along the same lines and eventually turn in to a regional minority party, or they can look back to their moderate past and try to turn it around. To do that, I think most voters will want to see actual votes along those lines – not just moderating rhetoric during election season. Sure, they can try to lie their way through it, and that might work for a few more years, but in the end the brand will be complete crap.

          In the end, Republicans either have to get past the hating and absolutism, or they will wither away.

      • BlueCat says:

        Most still clinging to the fantasy that it’s not their core principles that are the problem. It’s that they have to figure out ways to insult Latino’s in a softer tone and somehow get women to see that reproductive autonomy, equal pay  and basic healthcare aren’t things they should worry their pretty little second class citizen heads over.

        Rove’s response to getting pretty much nothing out of Crossroad’s 325 mill?

        Rove, for one, isn’t backing down. The unofficial GOP outside money boss argues the efforts by his Crossroads outfits prevented a bigger electoral blowout.

        “Crossroads, which you helped found, spent what, $325 million, and we’ve ended up with the same president, the same Democratic majority in the Senate and the same Republican majority in the House. Was it worth it?” Chris Wallace asked Rove on Fox News about an hour after most media had called the race for Obama.

        Read more: http://www.politico.com/news/s

        Notice how it still hasn’t occurred to him that Obama’s coalition of women, minorities and the young (who will be around for a while and are learning their voting habits and establishing party identity during their early voting years) who are now far more representative of America than that shrinking minority, grumpy middle aged and old white men, soundly rejected the messages that all that Crossroads money was spent selling.

        It’s not just that the coalition voted for Obama. Marriage equality is gaining while personhood is losing and all kinds of other more liberal amendments and referenda are winning while far right ones are losing.

        When you listen to them talking about reaching out in incredibly inadequate ways and finding better messengers you realize that they just can’t come to terms with the fact that, now and forevermore, America isn’t going to be the Norman Rockwell fantasy of white father’s knowing best and being in charge that they imagine it once was and can be again.

        They can’t believe that the real America is multicultural for good. “Those people” aren’t going to fade away no matter how hard they fight their hopeless rearguard actions in defense of some idealized paradise that never was in the first place.

        I think they will remain deer in the head lights paralyzed by denial for the next year or two at least.  

        • Or even far-sighted in some of those who are realizing their party is screwed.

          There is a definite realization in some quarters of the GOP that they can’t keep going on like this.

          And then there are the Richard Viguerie’s out there calling on the resignation of the obviously way too timid and left-wing Republican leadership (per my prediction, and right on time…).

          A lot of folks predicted that Republicans would face this problem way back in the early 2000s. They’ve put off facing reality for some time now – and many will put it off for much longer, or perhaps forever. There’s probably still a small window for salvaging the party from obscurity, but there’s a lot of resistance, too. Willful ignorance runs deep with this bunch.

          • BlueCat says:

            I just don’t think the numbers of those with a clue sufficient to push the party, including the base, to reach a tipping point that will help them with this difficult to surmount  between now and 2014. But here’s a nice long article full of more sensible R voices:

            More pessimistic Republicans agreed that the party faces fundamental challenges but questioned whether it would make necessary, painful changes while much of the GOP base is enveloped in an parallel-universe mentality, with Fox News as its only trusted source of information and the memory of the 2010 conservative landslide as its basic framework for understanding politics.

            Throughout much of the general election, Republican activists and pundits were more prone to attack the sampling methods of public polls than to consider the possibility that they’d face a historically diverse, unexpectedly Democratic-leaning electorate on Nov. 6. That mind-set of denial collided with objective reality yesterday.

            “The conservative media bubble is totally self-defeating for us. It denies us any realistic view of the real world of the general election, assuming instead that all politics is simply an extension of the Republican primary. It blindly drives us off one cliff after another,” said Republican presidential strategist Mike Murphy. “We will not win the real world of big-turnout, presidential-year politics until our bubble realizes that a big world exists outside the precincts of the Republican primary.”

            Said Murphy: “Much of the conservative media bubble, with its isolation, denial and semi-paranoia, only incentivized us to lose general elections.”



    • CastleMan says:

      ArapGOP, you are a loyal partisan. We can all appreciate that. I hope those in your party heed your words. Going more to the right will not help. I cast my first and second presidential votes for Republicans. I’ve never done so again. Why? For two main reasons: first, the party seems to reject and deny reality that conflicts with its ideological preference and, second, the party is under far too much influence by fundamentalist Christians, Catholic bishops, and others who don’t value freedom of conscience and, really, want a theocratic form of government. I care, too, about the environment – protecting it was basically a Republican idea, way back when – and I think fiscal conservatism means more than keeping taxes on the rich as low as possible.

    • AristotleAristotle says:

      PR is totally right. The GOP has bet everything on assimilating the most extreme right wingers our national voter pool has, and they’re losing everyone else in the bargain.

      The only time America has had a successful third party was when one of the major two failed to cope with the growing political realities confronting the nation. And that third party ended up consuming that major party and taking its place.

      The Whigs were destroyed by the issue of slavery. As this wikipedia link says, Southern Whig leaders were mostly slave owners, while most Northern Whigs who opposed slavery on free market grounds. Is today’s GOP also irrevocably split? That’s the $64k question.

      • I stated my thoughts about party splits; I said either:

        * the Republicans would continue the march right and eventually Democrats would assimilate so many moderate Republicans that Democrats would split into a moderate and liberal branch, or

        * the Republican Party would fork off a moderate and winger branch before they lost too many people.

        At this point, if the second were to happen they’d probably have to pull in a number of conservative Democrats to make a significant moderate party. This is certainly possible; the list of former Republicans has grown considerably since I first said that.

        Republicans could hold on for quite a while yet and still appear to be a major party; they have a solid hold on the South and a decent hold in the Midwest, along with a strong pocket in the Utah/Idaho/eastern Washington/Oregon region. In that case I think the third party will rise from the middle, still possibly out of the Democratic Party. If they split soon, it’s possible the GOP could retain the center-right and kick out the right wing – but that assumes the right wing allows it to happen, since they’re in control at the local level.

        Whatever happens, the right-wing branch of the current GOP will fade; it might get subsumed into a current third party, or form another third party with regional power.

        • AristotleAristotle says:

          “…it might get subsumed into a current third party, or form another third party with regional power.”

          That’s a scary thought. If they could do that, they’d have the power to force compromises and dictate policies out of proportion to their numbers. Sort of how Cuban Americans in Florida did for so long.

  4. parsingreality says:

    Seems like only yesterday, that was the tenor of the Republican Party, no?

    Down the shit hole just like the Thousand Year Reich.  

    What else is in common?  Oh, yeah, right wing fascists/racists/liars.

    • ClubTwitty says:


      Right out of the gate, Matthews set Maher up by asking him about Karl Rove’s on-air meltdown, where the strategist refused to believe Fox’s projection that Obama won Ohio.

      “It was a little [like] Hitler’s bunker, wasn’t it?” Maher quipped, referring to the location of the Nazi ruler’s suicide. “I wanted to rush in with cyanide capsules there. I thought he was going to say, ‘I do not want to live in a world without National Socialism.’ Okay, Mrs. Goebbels.”

      Sensing that invoking Godwin’s Law may not be the most appropriate rhetoric, Maher pivoted to his actual point, that he believes conservatives need to reconnect with reality to avoid surprises like Tuesday’s election.

      “I think Republicans have to start getting their news from another source other than Fox News,” Maher said. “I’m not kidding about this. I think this really screws them up.”

      • BlueCat says:

        the bunker metaphor is an apt one. They have indeed put themselves in a Fox bunker and when the outside world forces its way in, it ain’t pretty. But one wonders, will the base finally stop insisting that it’s the rest of us, who get our news from what they call the lame stream media and which covers a lot of sources from center right to left leaning, who aren’t getting the truth which is only available on Fox?

        Somehow I suspect that they will continue to cling to Fox even though the “lame stream media” which deals in stuff like arithmetic, so clearly, between the rightish center and leftish segments of it, provides the best basis for reality based judgements.  

        Bet my rightie cousin is still tuned in and believing everything Rove, O’Really and Morris are saying about what really happened in this election.

        You know what I find ironic?  The way they used to say they were sure the Latinos and African Americans wouldn’t turn out because they’re mad at Obama for not giving them enough stuff.  The minority turn out was fantastic.  So now they’re saying Obama gets the 50% who wants more stuff and I guess that must mean minorities plus lazy white folks?  But why would “those people” now think Obama’s handing out free stuff if not enough free stuff is why they weren’t supposed to come out and, therefore, the model was supposed to be nothing like 2008, making all the lame stream media polls  wrong?  Is this making any sense?

        • RavenDawg says:

          It seems like many Repubs, including Romney’s team, actually had themselves convinced that they were sure to win.  I wanted Obama to win, and based on Nate Silver’s reassurance I thought Obama could win, but it was never foregone in my mind.

          I’m thinking, would you want leaders who were that locked into a set of assumptions forced into a hot read in a developing situation, having to revise their approach on the fly based on incomplete and changing information?

          I’m thinking we dodged a major bullet here.  

          • BlueCat says:

            took us into war with Iraq? Yes we did dodge a major bullet.  Can you imagine the attitude they’d have toward intel that didn’t fit their locked in theories?  Oh wait.  That reminds me of the Bush era, too.  

      • parsingreality says:

        Howz your head today, Dick? Head.  

  5. RavenDawg says:

    They may be called Federalists or Whigs or Republicans but it’s all the same.

    The drive to self-interest and the desire of the haves to rule the have-nots are basic human traits.

    The big-money boys (and a few gals) always want more, and they don’t like to lose.  They will see that the Tea Party cost them a winnable election.  If Romney had been allowed to run as a stealth moderate R and “successful businessman” he would have had a much better chance to lull the voters into buying his BS that he could improve on Obama’s performance.  Instead, the right wing purists put Romney in a contradiction that not even Bill Clinton could have lied out of.

    The current intra-party fight will be on two levels.

    (1) Easier to resolve, the matter of being more accepting of diversity.  This will take time and conflict but gender and ethnicity do not inherently rule out being a Repub.  There are already party leaders like Jeb Bush who can move into that space.  Generational change in Party leadership will also help.  Getting Tea Party ass kicked will empower those voices.

    (2) More difficult and fundamental in my opinion is debate over the basic role of government in stewardship of public resources, in insuring a social safety net, and in providing a level regulatory playing field to protect citizens and small fish from the big fish.  Majority public opinion wants government to do these things, and that was a basic premise of Obama’s case.

    The current “laissez faire” Repub oligarchy sees government only as a conduit for them to co-opt public resources into private profit.  (And I’m still trying to figure out why rank and file Repubs don’t care that they are being screwed along with everyone else.)   To resolve this conflict is going to require a real attitude adjustment among the oligarchs.

    Whatever, it’s their problem and I’m just going to enjoy the circus.  

  6. davebarnesdavebarnes says:


    Two more presidential elections, 2016 and 2020, will be contested under the current Electoral College configuration, which gave Barack Obama a second term on Tuesday. This year’s results suggest that this could put Republicans at a structural disadvantage.

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