The Slow-Motion Meltdown Of The Republican Party

bobby-jindal1Jeez Louise, I go away to Montana for a little while and look what happens… I can’t leave you GOPers alone for a single minute, can I?

First, Cantor lost… and lost big. Naturally, it’s Obama’s fault. It can’t possibly be because he’s buddy-buddy with the NSA and the idea of spying on everyone, or because he’s part of the worst House leadership in recorded history. He spent something like ten times as much as his Tea Party opponent, and still lost. As much as I object to the gutting of campaign spending laws, Eric Cantor’s primary loss is proof positive that money is not the defining force in elections. It can make things difficult, or shift things slightly, but it cannot (yet) buy the election. (Give Thomas and Scalia some time, though; they’re working on it.) This of course means that we on the left have little excuse; if we lose in November, it’s because we didn’t get out and vote, not because the mean old GOP outspent us.

Second, right next door to the family ranch here in the Treasure State, Idaho’s Republican convention collapsed into utter chaos and ruin just the other day. The conflict between the Tea Party wing, the libertarian wing, and the establishment of the GOP became so acrimonious that the whole thing collapsed under its own failure-riddled weight, with nothing to show for it. No election for chairman, no platform, nothing. This is a state where the GOP holds virtually every office possible, outside a small minority in the legislature. I mean, seriously, folks. If you can’t run a conservative party convention in a so-red-it-almost-drops-off-the-visible-spectrum bastion like Idaho, you’ve got a real problem.

These are just symptoms of a larger malady afflicting the right these days. The ultimate issue is, in my not so humble opinion, two-fold. Number one: the Tea Party is no longer under the control of the establishment right. It has become its own beast, unresponsive to the controls of its former masters and incapable of understanding the realities of governance and consensus-building. Like most young creatures, it wants what it wants, and it will kick, scream, bite, and wail until it gets it… at which point it will find a new desire and repeat the process. Unlike most child-creatures, it has no authority figure over it to tell it “no” and reign in its excesses for the good of itself and others. It will continue to rampage its way across the electoral chances of the GOP, demanding ever-higher standards of “conservatism” out of politicians on the right, standards which will become ever more contradictory and ever more out of touch with reality and the structure of our nation. This will inevitably push the right even further into looney-land, with inevitable effects on how elections will turn out, due to the greater modern effect of independents and undecideds. Personally, I’m ambivalent about that; I’d like to see less right-wingers elected, but I also know that our nation needs at least two functioning parties, not one and a broken joke.

Number two: Neither the Tea Party nor the Republicans know what to do with power once they have it. Sure, they can make things happen; they can push through bills, they can form committees, they can hold hearings, but they don’t know how to really GOVERN. They are elementally incapable of acting to deal with the real problems facing our nation, instead preferring to manufacture solutions to problems that only exist in the mind of the right and to attempt to score political points while obstructing actual governance. Just look at how Boehner and Cantor have run this GOP-dominated House, and you can’t miss this fact. On both a state and federal level, they continue to push for measures that have been slapped down repeatedly by federal courts, even by the conservative-leaning Supreme Court. They don’t seem to grasp that the Constitution is a real check on their ability to please their anti-gay, anti-women, anti-brown-people constituency. This is especially true of the Tea Party, who seem to only have a rough idea of the Constitution outside of the latter half of the 2nd Amendment and the whole of the 10th. This, of course, never stops them from declaring anything they dislike (which includes anything said or done by Barack Obama) unconstitutional and impeachment-worthy.

These problems are difficult and relatively insoluble without some seriously deep housecleaning and soul-searching from the entities on the right side of our political spectrum. It will also require some substantial statesmanship on the part of one or more persons on that side, leadership that can lead them out of the ever-deepening quagmire into which they’re wandering. Personally, I’m not holding my breath.

Jason Francis

Jason Francis is a red-state liberal, residing in the heart of Dixie where he gets to watch the train wreck of conservative politics up close and personal on a regular basis. He's lived in affluence and poverty, in both urban and rural settings, attended both public and private schools, and has visited most of the US at one point or another.


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  • TKO

    I largely agree with this, but am curious as to what bills the Tea Party has “pushed through”? They have accomplished absolutely nothing legislation-wise. You would think that the TPers would at least TRY to undo progressive laws, but the only attempts they have made have been on the ACA and those have failed.

    • CalvinballPro

      Something tells me that they’ve realized they can demolish those programs just by destroying the government using minority tactics like the filibuster and hostage-taking involving the debt ceiling, not passing any laws or anything remotely democratic.

    • Jason

      Sorry, should have been more specific. I meant the coalition (loose though it is) that the GOP and Tea Party form behind establishment bills that the leadership on the right presents. Being junior members, and outside the leadership of the disloyal opposition, Tea Partiers are in no position to advance any bills… to the relief of nearly all.

    • Randall Whitt

      TKO… The Tea Party never promised they’d push through any bills. Their sole purpose was to hobble the federal government. They went to Washington to prove that government doesn’t work.

  • FiineTapestry

    It all has to do with how conservatives deal with an America of changing demographics: their meltdown is a self-induced implosion, self-sabotage. The more they try to help their party, to outreach to minorities, the more they show they are out of touch. Because in the end, what they are open to is not a diverse conservative constituency, but to a diverse constituency converted and brain-washed to their monolithic white-Christian-male oriented ideology… It is extremely funny of them doing this, while still hoping this childish strategy will work… like a kid who invites all his would-be friends to his birthday party and tries to treat them all like his slaves, just because “it’s HIS party!!!!” LOL, that is the image I get picturing them at it.

  • Randall Whitt

    I’m certain that immediately after I post this, I’ll have tons of people accusing me of playing the “race card” but I have to point out the merely obvious.

    The Tea Party came on the scene after, and only after, a President with African lineage was elected. The Tea Party rose as the direct result of white American’s fear of the United States being taken over by people whose demographic is other than Caucasian, Christian, and male. If Barack Obama had been named John Smith and had a lighter complexion, there may have been some push back on his agenda by the GOP legislators, but there would never have been this outrage about his policies being socialist, communist, or un-American. If Obama had been white, the Tea Party would never have gained the foothold they now have.