decline and fall of the Republicans

My favorite economist, Paul Krugman writes:

I think this is part of a broader picture: the GOP that’s left after this election will probably be even further off in right field, even further out of touch with the rest of the country, than before. Democracy Corps writes about the “Republican disconnect” in terms of perceptions; this disconnect may be reinforced by changes in personnel.

More about the Republican disconnect below.

Republicans will have a long time in purgatory. Structurally, the Republicans are incapable of reinventing themselves at this point. Barring a black swan event, it is going to be a decade before the Republicans can regroup.

It was only 4 years ago that Karl Rove was planning the “permanent majority” of Republicans. What he failed to realize was the way the world was shifting, and shifting in ways that rewarded the Democratic Party chaos and penalized the Republican Party hierarchy.

But some background….

First, Democrats (and many progressive organizations) are used to handling differing opinions. Chaos and disagreement are part and parcel within every Democratic/progressive/liberal group I have ever known.

Second, the Democrats were in the wilderness and a slow decline for a long time (Arguably since LBJ). With the exception of Jimmy Carter (who was ineffective/non-inspirational) and Clinton (always working the angle), there has been no liberal Democrat since LBJ/JFK — about 40 years. The Republican pro-big-business presidents have dominated the presidential bully pulpit.

During most of this time, the Democrats have allowed the Republicans to seize the narrative and define what it means to be Americans. While Karl Rove’s announcement was a little late, arguably it was true for most of the last 40 years. But his announcement was at the end of the cycle, not the beginning.

Third, Democrats are used to examining their own faults (sometimes its a little too navel-gazing) and trying to learn from those lessons. Today’s Republicans have been cultivated by the Rush Limbaughs to be professional victims. Professional victims never have any fault with themselves- it is always the “others” fault. If someone has no ability to be introspective, then they have no ability to self-correct their faults. Today’s Republicans have been completely sold on the idea that everyone is to blame but themselves.

This is what the Democracy Corp’s “Republican disconnect” survey found. The causes of John McCain’s defeat:

  • hostile mainstream media, (65% of Republicans) ignoring the reality that until very, very recently all major talk shows were “conservative”
  • economic events beyond their control (29%) ignoring reality that Republicans were supposed to be “good” at the economy — when in fact they have been gutting it
  • Democrats having more money and resources. (25%) Republicans have dominated the money game for years — why not this year — someone else’s fault! Ann Coulter starts her 12 Dec 2008 email to the Human Events email list:

    Dear Fellow Conservative,
    Do you know which special interest gave more money to the Obama campaign than any other?
    If you guessed “trial lawyers” — well, okay, that’s too easy. But can you guess which special interest came in second?
    Labor unions? Nope. The Green Lobby? Nope. AARP? Wrong, again. NEA? Nyet.
    Give up? Okay, here’s the answer: Wall Street.

    There you have it right from the horse’s mouth, even the moneymen have abandoned the Republicans.

  • 12 percent thought that McCain wanting to continue Bush’s policies. Only 12% willing to look at themselves!
  • 10 percent pointed to Palin — but Palin is the “perfect Republican”
  • 8 percent suggested the big spending and deficits were to blame. (borrow-and-spend Republicans — will they repent?)

If only 12% are willing to consider that the fault lies within, there is a lot of work to get the other Dittoheads to switch off Rush and the other professional victims.

The key issue from this special survey of Republicans is whether or not the party is connected enough to what is happening in the country to work with the new leaders of the country and to begin the process of self-examination necessary for political change.

Two things came along that upset the apple cart:

  • The Internet
  • Howard Dean

The new game in the town that “saved” the Democrats is the internet. The internet enables the chaotic organization to function. The Republicans cannot handle chaos.

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