“Don’t stop the debates. The purpose of debates is to get candidates and their ideas before voters. In the Republicans’ case, that includes exposing the failed policies and dubious values of their party.”
Ex-GOPer Andrew Sullivan sees the moment of GOP implosion here in the Daily Dish. John Batchelor at the Daily Beast describes the laments of a Republican professional who sees Republican Self Destruction –
The primary campaign nastiness between Mitt Romney and Newt Gingrich is exhausting Republican loyalists. What in Iowa was a feisty contest between the haughty Mr. Romney and the operatic Mr. Gingrich turned hollow in New Hampshire and harsh in South Carolina. By the close of the Florida scramble, with the Herman Cain Express back from the repair yard to hitch onto the Newt baggage car, what remains of the Republican dialogue does not appear likely to be of much worth for the fall campaign.
The solution to the puzzle may be to admit that the GOP has forfeited 2012 before the general election even starts. How did this happen so suddenly?
“That’s the great mystery of 2012,” a senior Republican journalist told me while watching the brouhaha in Florida. “We have the weakest incumbent president in 32 years, running on the weakest record in 32 years… and who’s taking the stage in South Carolina and Florida? It has to be the weakest field I can remember. Each of these candidates has in his character, in his history, in his idea set—never mind disqualifying—a guarantee for self-destruction. If Newt is the candidate, he’ll lose badly. If Mitt is the candidate, he’ll lose slightly less badly … So what you have is an almost complete guarantee that if these are the candidates, Barack Obama will be reelected.”
I asked another senior GOP professional with decades of experience measuring party intrigue; he pointed to the negative campaigning as the telltale cause. “Negative advertising, why does it exist? It exists because it’s been proven to work. So Gingrich went negative on Romney on the Bain attacks and brought Romney down in South Carolina. The Romney campaign decided they’ve got to fire back in kind, calling Gingrich an influence peddler and a guy with ethics problems. The result is to create a cumulative effect of slime and dirt and muck attached not only to the two candidates but also to the party itself, as a party that fundamentally lacks seriousness about what’s centrally on people’s minds, which is the state of the economy—especially among independent voters, who keep rising; apparently they’re up to 40 percent of the electorate. This is off-putting. You know, Republicans may say we’re having an internal struggle, Newt represents something we believe in and so forth … Still, they’re running the risk of damaging the Republican brand.”
And see last Sunday’s news talkshows such as NBC’s Meet the Press or ABC’s This Week for a similar reaction among both Republican and Democratic commentators.
How Did the GOP Get Here?
Well there are 4 primary reasons for this self-destruction:
1)The GOP “Base” is fraught with contradictions and internecine emnities among the inherently conflicting groups – see our article;
2)The GOP has pledged allegiance to a policy of Super Dupers. You can fool most of the people most of the time. Take the pledge of allegiance to Grover Norquist for “no new taxes” by over 200 Republican Congressman. This is the same Grover Norquist who advocated for creating the huge Deficit with his “Starve the Beast” advocacy of deliberate overspending in Congress for the last 30 of 32 years. But now the sameSuper Duping Tactics are being used in abundance in their own Presidential Campaign;
3)GOP has resorted to a Mega-No campaign, not accomodating on almost any and all Obama legislative proposals. This has been accomplished by using the 40-vote Filibuster rule to stall administration budgets, executive appointments and key legislation. The purpose is to show that “government and Obama do not work.” The process of Federal legislation since the Republicans took the House in January 2011 has simply not been allowed to work because that would show Obama and government as being effective;
4)The GOP has increasingly resorted to politics of fear and smear. It is a badge of honor – like the Willie Horton Attack Ads. But it has slipped from attacks against Democratic Presidential candidate John Kerry with the Swift Boat campaign to George Bush’s South Carolina ‘whisper rumor mongering’ against Republican rival John McCain claiming falsely that McCain had fathered a black child out of wedlock. If this type of “campaigning” is legit, then anything is legit even against fellow GOP-ers.
So having embraced the deepend of contradictory coalitions and the politics of smear – the current GOP Presidential wrecking-crew campaign is natural consequence. Moderates or centerists have been effectively sidelined if not weeded out of the Republican party. This is the party of Rush Limbaugh bombacity or Murdoch Fox News manipulation. Don’t say “who knew?” now.
Bad News for the USA
The US and the World in general face numerous wicked problems- think energy shortages, climate change, worldwide job shortages, and nuclear gamesmanship from petty states. So the US can ill afford the politics of fear and smear. For example, for the US the current toxic political wrangling at the Federal level has already been a significant factor in the downgrading of US debt from AAA to AA status by S&P. Imagine November 25th 2012. Obama wins the Presidency but the Republicans gain either the House and/or the Senate because voters do not want to give too much power to the Democrats. A Democratic majority did not work in 2008. Or vice versa – a Republican wins the Presidency but the voters give the Democrats control of the House or Senate. In either case, political gridlock is the outcome. Neither party is likely to embrace bipartisanship. This is Gresham’s law – the bad drive out the good. And right now very bad partisan politics drives US politics in general. Can you imagine the political turmoil of 2013 no matter who wins?
Remember even in the past 10 years of increasingly bitter partisan infighting with Congressional approval ratings hovering around 10-14%, nonetheless 90% of incumbent Congressman get re-elected. We keep rehiring those who we disapprove of. So no wonder Federal political leaders think they are impervious to any consequences for their bad behavior – no matter what they do do they will get re-elected. And so ye Editor will have to take a big swig of a 5th, because my party, the GOP[Andrew Sullivan and I are co-diasporans], is leading the US downhill parade … and so are my fellow electors. I think Walt Kelly’s Pogo said it best – “We have met the enemy- and They is Us”.