Opinion » Ted Rall

Is the GOP Doomed?

In a two-party system, the loser is us


Stalin called bourgeois parties "the dancing bears of social democracy." Toothless and undignified distractions personifying the function of electoral politics--to channel the energies of the oppressed into bullshit discussions about trivia and inanities.

His phrase comes to mind as the corporate pundit class prattles on about the supposed current crise de coeur of the GOP. How can the Republican Party maintain its relevance?

The Republicans-could-go-extinct meme is a manufactured crisis. The Party of Hoover still controls the House. It holds 27 state legislatures and 30 governors' mansions.

All this hand-wringing over the alleged danger that the GOP could fade into irrelevance ignores the fact that Barack Obama only defeated Mitt Romney by a few percentage points. Republicans lost a few seats in the House and a pair in the Senate, but things basically remained unchanged. Not bad for a party that failed to present any new ideas.

The argument that Republicans need to reinvent themselves boils down to two factors, the first shoulder-shruggingly silly: Given what a terrible job Obama did with the economy during his first term, the Republicans should have done better.

The worry that Republicans really should focus on is demographics: an influx of immigration, especially by Latinos alienated by decades of GOP race-baiting on illegal immigration, coupled with a seemingly long-term trend among young adults toward increased liberalism on social issues.

"The question now facing Republicans," Brian Montopoli of CBS News wrote in November 2012, "is whether they shift toward the middle or instead try to appeal to growing demographic groups while staying planted firmly on the right side of the political spectrum."

Karl Rove addressed the California Republican convention, making the case for tokenism: "We need to be asking for votes in the most powerful way possible, which is to have people asking for the vote who are comfortable and look like and sound like the people that we're asking for the vote from."

In his pamphlet "Go For the Heart: How Republicans Can Win," David Horowitz, argues that the Republican victories of the future rely on a combination of hope and fear, making voters feel that Republicans care about them and that liberals want to enslave them in some imaginary nanny state.

The trouble is that neither argument stands a chance. If Republicans have been successful at anything, it's that convincing Americans that, not only do they not care about them, Americans don't deserve to be cared about. 

Many conservatives suggest downplaying the GOP's stands on social issues Some say they should be changed entirely. Others imagine a mishmash of social liberalism or at least libertarianism and fiscal conservatism.

A successful political party requires a consistent and coherent ideology. You have to put forth a way of thinking that allows anyone to predict how your party would respond to events.

The Republicans aren't anywhere close to achieving a coherent ideology. On the other hand, neither are the Democrats.