GOP and Democratic Party Extinction?

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The dinosaurs reached a zenith just prior to their extinction. It occurred to me we may be witnessing the same pattern with the Republican Party. As a minority party during the last part of the last century, Republican conservative views served our nation well on a host of issues. They acted as American conscience regarding debt and deficit spending. They acted as an ethical check on runaway cultural norms moving toward "anything goes". And they served as a check on encroachment of state’s rights by the federal government and bloating federal beauracracy.

And for these valuable services, the Republican Party was rewarded by becoming the majority party, sweeping a majority of state governor offices, both houses of Congress and topping all that off with a Republican President. Their zenith has arrived. And now it appears their extinction may be all but inevitable. Extinction comes about by changes which a species cannot adapt to. At this zenith, the Republican Party has been thrown two large changes to which they have not, as yet, been able to adapt to. The first is the role of majority party. The second is 9/11 and a dynamic shift in the way people the wolrd over now view world affairs, events, and power struggles.

The Republican Party as a minority party sought, expected, and demanded party unity in the halls of Congress, in campaign organizational efforts, and among its party officials. By peddling itself as the party of inclusion though, a key component in their becoming the majority party, the Party allowed intra-party group identification differences provided they did not conflict with Party agendas. Thus grew larger ethnicity within the ranks, gay activists, both pro-life and pro-choice groups, etc. The Republican Party remained tolerant of disparate views during its rise to majority status resulting in the growth of the wings within the Party. The ultra-conservatives, moderate conservatives, and even to some extent, liberal conservatives. Like the Democratic Party, they had become a Big Tent Party, home to many groups with opposing issue positions.

With the advent of achieving a Republican President to top off their rise to majority party in the government however, it appears the Party began losing sight of its winning Big Tent strategy. With President Bush as the head of their party, agendas and policies were set in motion without Big Tent discussion and debate, and without unanimity among either its office holders or rank and file members. A prime example was the huge deficit spending agendas which infuriated the fiscal conservative membership of the party. That anger was slow to be expressed however since unanimity was still perceived as the basis of strength for the party. School vouchers and its threat posed to public schools was another rift opening up within the Party. And then stem cell research openly divided the membership. But all these rips in the Party's unanimity were overshadowed by 9/11 and all that it wrought.

When 9/11 occurred, and the Republican Party saw Bush seize the moment, politically speaking, by reaching out to Americans with empathy for what they felt, anger, confusion, fear, loss, and want for revenge, it seemed the future of the Republican Party as the majority party was all but guaranteed for perhaps decades to come. With 9/11, deficits could be defended. With 9/11 military growth could be defended. With 9/11 American military could be applied overseas in the oil rich Middle East and defended. In so many ways, the Republican Party benefited from the misfortune of the 9/11 tragedies and still do today. But a huge misstep occurred with the invasion of Iraq that was going to threaten the extinction of the Republican Party.

On purely principal grounds, the Republican Party stood nearly unanimous in favor of invading Iraq, based on the Bush administration's assurances of WMD in the hands of Saddam Hussein and the perceived potential imminent threat those weapons posed both to our allies and our own nation. Outside of the Republican Party, such unanimity could not be found anywhere. But, as long as the veracity of the threat of Hussien's WMD remained intact, invasion of Iraq appeared defensible even to those opposed to war in general. With the dawning of the revelation that the WMD premise was mistaken, and the slow realization that Iraq posed no significant near term threat at all to Americans at home, the house of cards began to tumble. And as the cards went flying, all of the pent up reservations and frustrations by factions within the Republican Party began to find voice.

Fiscal conservatives no longer felt compelled to withhold their outrage over deficits which exceeded even those generated by Democratic Congress majorities. Log Cabin Republicans announced they would not endorse President Bush for reelection. Nancy Reagan came out against Bush's constraints upon stem cell research. Prominent conservatives like Joe Scarborough and Pat Buchanan began churning out books immensely critical of their Republican Party and the Bush administration’s leadership of it. But, as Democrats know, being a majority party in government can only be sustained if policies and agendas appear to be working for Americans.

This week a crucial article was written regarding a poll of foreign nation's people regarding which candidate they backed for president, President Bush or Senator John Kerry. The Reuter's article states:

The world wants President Bush out of the White House, according to a poll released on Wednesday that shows in 30 of 35 countries people preferred Democrat candidate John Kerry.

Kerry was particularly favored in traditionally strong U.S. allies and beat Bush on average by more than a two-to-one margin, 46 percent to 20 percent, the survey by GlobeScan Inc, a global research firm, and the University of Maryland, said.

Now, Republicans will be quick to point out that people in foreign countries don't elect our President. However, that is not the issue. The issue is whether the U.S. has the confidence and trust of other nations regarding its foreign policy initiatives and directions. It is an irrefutable fact, that the United States activities overseas will be helped by the perception of foreign nations that the U.S. President is acting in good faith and with the interests of the international community in mind. This poll clearly demonstrates that will not be the case if President Bush is reelected, and may be the case if Sen. Kerry is elected. Americans are not insensitive to how they are perceived overseas.

Another article reported by Rupert Cornwell regarding a poll of Americans states:

Seven out of 10 Americans are worried about the worsening of their country's image around the world, suggesting that global dislike of George Bush and his foreign policies could have an impact, albeit indirect, on the outcome of the presidential election.

That is the most striking finding of a new set of polls released yesterday by the Globscan group and the University of Maryland. Of Americans polled, 40 per cent said that foreign antipathy to the US was a big problem, and 30 per cent "somewhat of a problem." Although almost three-quarters said world opinion would have no impact on their vote.

So, while foreigner's opinions of our President may not directly influence how American's vote in November, it is clear that among 70% of Americans, how we are perceived by foreigners is a concern, and that means a large number of Republicans hold this view. This clearly reflects another split in the rank and file of the Republican Party between those who believe America's stature and power determines what's right in foreign affairs, and those who believe that how we are perceived overseas is a matter for concern.

Extinction? So, how does all this fit into a theory regarding the possible extinction of the Republican Party? The Republican Party ascended as the majority partly on the basis of platform issues and a Big Tent strategy, and partly on the back of a general skepticism and loss of faith in our federal government under the reins of the Democratic Party. And let me be clear, the Democratic Party is already on its way to extinction in light of its huge losses over the last ten years at the local, state and national levels, its abandonment of the Big Tent policy which would have dictated embracing Ralph Nader instead of fighting him, and the party's inability to unanimously agree what it needs to do to win the hearts and minds of the people.

The Republican Party however stands on a precipice. Under the President's and the Republican Congress' watch, policies and agendas have been put forth on a partisan basis to further their grip on power. They advertise their party as the Party to fight and defend us against terrorism. They advertise themselves as the party to protect us from economic calamity. They advertise theirs is the party to eradicate terrorism throughout the world and bring peace and democracy to the world. And because of this partisan advertising, seeds of their extinction have been sown. After 9/11 and still today, the American people have shown an incredible resilience to adversity, an incredible tolerance for errors and mistakes by its government, and an incredible patience in waiting for signs of improvement. And any of a number of events could push the Republican Party over the edge of that precipice.

The American public, strong, resilient, and patient as it has been, will not tolerate another major terrorist attack on our soil. Not by a party that says it is the only party to protect us from it. Terrorism throughout the world is growing, not receding since the invasion of Iraq. Casualties of terrorism as reported by our State Department are increasing in the world since invading Iraq. The connection will be made in the minds of Americans between invading Iraq, increases in terrorism as a result, and another terrorist attack upon the U.S. They will also make the connection between this government spending 200 billion dollars to invade and occupy Iraq which was not a threat, and only 20 billion on homeland defense.

They will not tolerate the demise of our broad based middle class quality of life. The deficits and national debt are already reducing our government's options to act in ways that would otherwise be in the public's interest. Due to the 200 billion spent on invading Iraq and the public's demand that deficits go down, not up, our government has been constrained to a mere 20 billion dollars being spent on homeland security.

This government has and is spending Social Security surpluses faster than they have been coming in. And the day is coming when this same government will say, we are sorry, we spent your surplus payments into the program and now we have to cut your benefits or prevent you from retiring when you expected to because we just don't have the money. We spent it on making Iraqi lives better. We spent it on failed missions to the Sun and Mars. We spent it on pork projects for Congress person's pet projects in their local districts. We spent it on making the wealthy wealthier and corporate profits more profitable.

Our national debt, which will reach 10 trillion dollars in just a few short years, will eliminate or seriously diminish our option to stimulate the economy when the next cyclical world wide recession hits. It will also have to be paid down. And that means increasing taxes on Americans for at least major portions of their wage earning lives. Another recession which cannot be countered or softened because of our national debt, will remind Americans of the Republican Party and the Bush administration which ran that national debt up as if it had no limit.

The American people will not tolerate politicians turning world opinion against us and making Americans the ‘bad guys’ in the eyes of most other nation's people. If America sustains a growing image of being the bad guys and having caused world wide destabilization and years of sweeping growth in terrorist activity as a result of the Iraq invasion catalyst, it will be the Republican President the American people will rightly blame and hold responsible. The American people believe they are the ‘good guys’. American pride depends on the world recognizing us as a force for good in the world. And the goodness of the American people will turn allegiance upon the political party that diminishes or tarnishes that pride and belief.

Years of growing isolation of America by world opinion and increasing lack of cooperation by our allies and foreign governments could spell the extinction of the Republican Party. An economic demise in the quality of life and health of the middle class as a result of record deficits and debt could spell the extinction of the Republican Party. Another catastrophic terrorist attack upon U.S. soil will spell the extinction of the Republican Party.

Given that the Democratic Party is already on the road to extinction, if the Republican Party also seasl for itself that same fate, it is hard to imagine what shape our political system will take. Perhaps the Green, Libertarian and Reform Parties will be the shape of things to come. One thing is for sure, the extinction of the two major political parties in America will be both tumultuous and full of threat to American democracy. But, it may also spell the first real opportunity American democracy has to improve upon itself since the 1930's and 1960's.

2 Comments

Mr. Remer, your premise sounded really far fetched when I began to read this. And it is a very long read. But, once when I got through it and saw how you got to possible extinction of both major parties, it made very good sense.

Of course, there are a bunch of things that could happen to prevent such scenarios from taking place as well. So, I won't be making any bets in Vegas that your propositions will come true. Not just yet, anyway.

Good article. (Make the next one shorter thought).

TommyJ

Tommy, thanks for the comments. Yeah, it was a bit long. Some arguments just can't be made in 500 words or less - at least for me. Most of the writing here is a short read, though.

You are right, of course, the future is full of possibilities. That however, cannot stop NASA or me from forging ahead on future estimates and acting accordingly when necessary. And like NASA, I am sometimes wrong, sometimes right, and often times halfway. :-)

Really appreciate your comments.

--David

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This page contains a single entry by David R. Remer published on September 10, 2004 9:46 PM.

Bush/Cheney: Do NOT Do As We Do, Please! was the previous entry in this blog.

Why This Election Can't Be Predicted is the next entry in this blog.

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