Saturday, May 02, 2009

Is the Republican Party Imploding?


My Momma always said, "Be careful what you wish for... you just might get it". Politicians, of both parties, have fallen into this trap numerous times over many years. An example that many of you might be aware of occurred in the great state of Louisiana. The powers that be, created the open primary system for the Pelican state in 1978. I learned, although I do not know where, that this was done in an attempt to permanently hobble the the state Republican Party. The belief was that enough of the local voters identified as Democrats that the top two vote-getters in most elections would be Democrats. Needless to say, that projection ended up being faulty, and if anything, the Republican Party of Louisiana has been stronger in the last 30+ years than at any other point since the end of Reconstruction.

This story should be a lesson to the Republican Party, and it definitely would benefit the Democrats if they paid attention to it as well. The Democrats have been out of power for the better part of eight years and therefore, are eager to push forward legislation that will shape the nation in a way they see fit, they should be careful of over-reaching. While the Republicans are so shocked at being out of power, that they are in the process of "purifying" the party. Neither of these are good ideas.

Just this week, Senator Specter left the Republican Party in the hopes of holding his seat in the 2010 race. It appears from the outside to be a remarkably selfish decision. He basically said that this was done in an attempt to keep his seat and it was not a remarkable problem with the stances of the Republican leadership. Michael Steele, the head of the Republican National Committee, basically responded by saying something akin to (I'm paraphrasing) 'He wasn't a real Republican anyway'. Uh Mr. Steele when you are the head of a party that is down to 21% of people calling themselves Republicans, you are not in a position to be choosy.

The Republicans appear to be reacting to the last two election cycles by acting like a spoiled 6th grader, (I teach 6th grade, I know what they sound like). This is a quick version of the Republicans response from my perspective. For the sake of this example the Republicans are Johnny.

Teacher: "Johnny you are wrong. Everyone else in the class says you are wrong, you got the wrong answer. Here is the correct answer."
Johnny: "But Teacher this was the right answer for my brother when he took the test last year..."
Teacher: "Johnny, We have new information"..
Johnny: "But, it was the right answer when my parents took the test."
Teacher:"Sorry. You are wrong."
Johnny:"I don't care what you say I'm sticking with that answer.".

The Republicans inability to accept that they can not just be a party of the White South seems to be a problem for them. The Northeast is almost without Republican representation at this point, and considering how the Hispanics are voting recently the West and Southwest are definitely uphill battles for a party that proclaims at least through its actions to have disdain for immigrants that are currently one of the fastest growing voting blocs in the country. The Republicans need to recalibrate their policies, rather than just saying effectively, "I'm still right I don't care what everyone else says.

For at least a few years, the Republicans talked about a permanent majority and how the Democrats would be relegated to the opposition for years to come. Less than 10 years ago Karl Rove talked up the permanence of the Republican majority in both houses of Congress and the Executive. The belief being put forward was that Republicans had the right mix of social beliefs and governing philosophy. Obviously, this permanent majority was about as long lasting as some of my favorite T shirts from college. The governing strategy by the Republicans in Congress and the White House was that of exploiting narrow majorities, and winning by the slimmest of margins. In this way the Republicans were able to advance their agenda without the need of anything close to a significant majority.

Recently, The Democratic Congressional Leadership passed a rules change that will allow them to pass a Universal Health Care Bill without achieving sixty votes to gain cloture. The Republican Leadership responded with such howls of protest that you would think that their favorite pets had just been killed. Senator McConnell talked how this was a travesty of the Senate rules, and that it was a bad precedent for the future. He forgot to mention that the Republican Leadership had used the same tactic less than 10 years ago to pass the Bush tax cuts.

I hope the Democrats take a lesson from this. Do not get too comfortable in that position of power that yall now hold. Those individuals that put you in power in the last 3 cycles, can very easily push you out of power in a year or two. This is still a Democracy of the people, for the people, and by the people.

To be honest, I'm happy that President Johnson was wrong to the tune of 5 years.

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