25 June 2009

Republicans 101

Listed in order of prominence:
  • Rush Limbaugh - Now widely considered the head of the GOP, this popular radio host who has struggled with addiction to prescription painkillers is reviled by almost everyone outside of a core of strong conservatives. Limbaugh has long led the charge against moderation in the party, snarling at "RINO"s (Republican In Name Only) and heaping vitriol on those who disagree. He did, however, help instill a large part of the notorious GOP discipline (his followers willingly call themselves "dittoheads") - since anyone who steps outside the lines gets immediately and forever attacked.
  • Dick Cheney - Another figure who is considered a leader of the party, this former Vice President is also not in elected office. He has spent a great deal of time in political gamesmanship of late, trying to defend the Bush administration. With both him and Rush being so strongly influential yet not beholden to an electorate, the GOP has swerved further and further away from the kind of politics that actually win elections. They have no incentive to promote GOP action on what the people actually want, like the 73% who want a public option in healthcare.
  • Newt Gingrich - A former Congressman and Speaker of the House, Gingrich is often remembered for his Contract with America that started a massive Republican resurgence. He is also remembered for the epic showdown with President Clinton about government spending; what began as a fight for "fiscal discipline" was revealed to be more politics and personal when Gingrich snapped that they wouldn't have had to crack down if he hadn't been snubbed by the President and put in the back of Air Force One. Humiliated and removed, he has become yet another highly vocal and influential Republican figure who isn't in elected office.
  • Gov. Bobby Jindal - A folksy Indian-American and governor of Louisiana, Jindal's star was rapidly on the rise - he was sometimes called the "Republican Obama" - when he was called upon to issue the response to Obama's State of the Union last year. The miserable effort was bizarre (attacking "volcano monitoring" as wasteful!) and strongly resembled a goofy character named Kenneth on the popular television program and commerical 30 Rock. In short order, his futures dimmed and haven't brightened.
  • Gov. Sarah Palin - Yeah. Palin.
  • Gov. Mark Sanford, Sen. John Ensign, Sen. David Vitter - All three of these well-thought-of Republicans recently confessed to some degree of hypocrisy, admitting that they cheated on their wives. Sanford's own misdeeds have been the most prominent and serious, as he disappeared without word to Argentina to be with his mistress for most of a week without making any preparations for disaster (such as informing the Lt. Governor).
  • George W. Bush - Yeah. Bush.

The GOP is making two severe mistakes: the most prominent Republican leaders are all in unelected positions of demagoguery, and they have purged almost all moderates from their ranks. The effect is to engage in a vicious cycle of inquisition, where the increasing absence of an effective moderating voice has made it almost impossible for Republicans to win in any district but those that are already certain, ghettoizing the GOP in the South and Midwest. Unless the elected leaders of the party assert themselves and manage to redefine the message as the "big tent" that so effectively fooled the electorate for so long, then the GOP may cease to be a serious national party for at least four years. The party system favors a Republican-Democratic duality too strongly to eliminate them forever, but a drastic change or an FDR-style perpetual domination is not impossible.

No comments:

Post a Comment