Thursday, December 13, 2012

GOP at a crossroads: stay radical and cheat or get more moderate and win centrists

President Obama winning re-election in the middles of troubled times with a weak economy rocked the Republican Party. Many, many Republicans, from their candidate on down, thought they had it locked. Even Karl Rove literally didn't believe Romney had lost when GOP TV (AKA Fox News Channel) predicted Obama's win.

Now the Party is at a crossroads. In this election it tried a level of lying unprecedented in modern times, according to the factchecking organizations. It tried voter suppression in the name of a phony "war on voter fraud." It tried outspending the Democrats by $100 million. It tried even more ruthless gerrymandering than the Democrats--no strangers to gerrymandering--had tried. So much so that even states that went solidly for Obama still elected GOP state legislature majorities, due to dirty redistricting tricks like "packing and cracking," resulting in minority rule of the legislature in many states.

As Richard III said (to paraphrase Shakespeare): "Could I do all this, and cannot gain the Crown? Tut, 'twere it further off, I'd pluck it down."

But they got all plucked up instead.

And they failed to get a U.S. Senate majority that would have been theirs (from all these dirty tricks) if they hadn't run people for the Senate in a number of conservative-majority states that even conservative voters thought were loons.

Worse yet, the younger the voter, the fewer wanted to vote for Republicans. Ditto women. Ditto in spades anyone who wasn't white Anglo. Meaning the GOP is slowly running out of angry old white men who didn't graduate from college (and their wives).

All this happened because the GOP has gotten much farther to the Right than the Democrats have gotten to the Left. This is a Center-Center country, really. The bulk of Americans are uncomfortable with the Crazy Eyes people, Left or Right. And the GOP has a bumper crop of Crazy Eyes politicians.

Basically, apart from cheating, there are two ways to win an election: fire up your extremist base or forge a centrist coalition. The GOP has gotten more and more focused on the former, while the Democrats under centrists like Clinton, Obama, and in 2016, another Clinton, have hung onto broad centrist appeal.

This is completely invisible to the Republicans who get all their news from right wing outlets--another reason why the Obama win took so many Republicans by surprise. It happened outside the sealed bubble they live in.

Thus far the Republicans have reacted to their loss by doubling down on their extremism and cheating, the latest being Pearl Harboring the labor unions in Michigan (along with changing the law on referendums, making it harder to overturn unpopular laws). But demographics and time are against such tactics working.

The amazingly speedy change in public opinion about same-sex marriage is a bellwether of this. Thundering about Gay Marriage doesn't get you elected any more except in the South.

To maintain its national viability over the next decade or so the Republican Party needs to go RINO. If it doesn't it becomes the Party of Southern/Midwestern Aging Undereducated White Men + Their Wives. That doesn't describe a party that can elect a president.

But the GOP is like a meth addict. He knows the Angry Old White High School Grad vote is destroying him...yet it feels so good it's hard to let go. Not to mention the fact that everyone but those Angry Old White Men + their wives have gotten so dismayed at the GOP's assault on the basic workings of democracy that it'll take a long time to win back the trust of people who are naturally inclined to vote Republican.

I understand Chrysler Corp. is building cars much better these days, but the last Chrysler product I owned--a Plymouth Volare station wagon--was built so badly I swore I'd never buy another Chrysler product, and Consumer Reports reliability statistics for decades have borne out my aversion.

So even if every Chrysler product is now a great, reliable car, it will take a decade of good stats before I even think of buying one again.

That's the situation the GOP faces today. It's trapped between first and second base, with the pitcher ready to hurl the ball to whichever base he lunges towards.

Reminds me of a punk rock song

"Should I stay or should I go?"

Should I stay or should I go?

If I stay there will be trouble.

If I go there will be double.

What I really wanna know is--

Should I stay or should I go..."

Likewise the GOP's billionaire patrons threw their entire financial weight into trying to get their guy elected. Now Obama's back in the White House, and he owes them...nothing. The billionaires put all their chips on Red, and the ball landed on Blue.


Plus the public is starting to get the picture that the self-styled Job Creators are really the Pickpockets Preying on the Middle Class. Double ooops.

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