Wednesday, June 25th, 2008

Is The Republican Party Dead?

In his blog, Ferentz asks the question of the week: “What on earth happened to the Republicans?”

Topical, yeah?

It’s the question behind Joe Bruno’s surprising resignation from the New York State Senate, which in the long term, could mean a shift in state power back to the Dems for decades to come.

It’s the question behind Scott McClellan’s supposed imminent conversion to the Democratic party.

And it’s the topic on the table for the cover of Harper’s Magazine this month, as conservatives Kevin Phillips, Scott McConnell and others weigh in under the banner headline: WHY THE GOP MUST DIE.

The upshot is that the party of Bush and Rove have led conservatives into a blind alley with the wars and the economy because they insisted on governing from the Right with a paper-thin majority.

It’s fun to see conservatives putting their own party on blast. Here’s Phillips: “A major Republican weakness that doesn’t get noticed is their inability, despite all their macho muscle-flexing, to bring foreign wars to a successful finish.” Zing!

And it’s also great to see folks who really understand that demographic changes force Democrats to forge a new majority not merely to pander to soccer moms and angry white men. Of course, these guys don’t work for the Democrats. They’re way too smart for that.

So before Democrats get too happy, some words of warning from Phillips, the most compelling conservative ever:

PHILLIPS :: …the public showed that it can produce a significant swing in 2006, in electoral terms. But the issues on which they suppopsedly voted are not being addressed. How do you vote to get everybody out of Iraq for example? Vote for the Democrats? That hasn’t worked so far.

MCCONNELL :: And it cuts both ways. The people who have been voting Republican for the past thirty years on cultural rather than class issues–i.e. culturally conservative Reagan Democrats–have gotten nothing for their votes either. But there is no evidence whatsoever that they are going to stop voting Republican.

KEVIN BAKER, Harper’s Magazine contributing editor :: It’s like you have this weird inversion of Tammany. They don’t get you out of jail, they don’t give you a turkey at Christmas, they don’t do anything for you, and yet somehow they keep winning.

THOMAS SCHALLER, professor University of Maryland :: The irony is that today the government has far more power than in the past. It is a much larger part of the economy, and so when it moves a lever, it can expect a dramatic effect.

PHILLIPS :: And yet people increasingly seem to believe that their votes don’t matter, that these parties aren’t any different from each other. It’s all just a big game. Democrats are the not-Republicans and Republicans are the non-Democrats. And if None Of The Above could be on the ballot, it would scare the bejesus out of everybody. What a choice that would be!

posted by @ 2:17 pm | 1 Comment

One Response to “Is The Republican Party Dead?”

  1. adam1285 says:

    I wouldn’t call Kevin Phillips a conservative, if anything he’s become increasingly populist despite his former position as a GOP strategist writing numerous books critical of GOP policies, especially economic ones. Just look at the titles of his last few books:

    – Bad Money: Reckless Finance, Failed Politics, and the Global Crisis of American Capitalism (2007) ISBN 0-670-01907-0

    – American Theocracy: The Peril and Politics of Radical Religion, Oil, and Borrowed Money in the 21st Century (2006) ISBN 0-670-03486-X
    – American Dynasty: Aristocracy, Fortune, and the Politics of Deceit in the House of Bush (2004) ISBN 0-670-03264-6
    – Wealth and Democracy: A Political History of the American Rich (2002) ISBN 0-7679-0533-4

    – The Cousins’ Wars: Religion, Politics and the Triumph of Anglo-America (1999)
    – Arrogant Capital: Washington, Wall Street and the Frustration of American Politics (1994)

    – Boiling Point: Democrats, Republicans and the Decline of Middle Class Prosperity (1993)

    – The Politics of Rich and Poor: Wealth and Electorate in the Reagan Aftermath (1990)

    BTW, I just finished your book “Can’t Stop, Won’t Stop” which I thought was great

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