Republicans Down, Not Out

hubert humphrey“It’s deja vu all over again,” Yogi Berra famously observed.

That Yogism seems to apply to my fellow lefties who are bragging anew that the Republicans are all but toast.

A lot of lefties made the same boast in 2008, when we elected President Obama the first time. We got the house and senate, to boot.

In 2009, Daily Kos, one of my favorite political blogsites, even put up a color picture of the red, white and blue Republican elephant logo turned into a dinosaur. The new critter was “The Goposaur.” (I saw a “Goposaur” on Daily Kos again the other day.)

While other lefties prophesied the GOP’s doom, I was more than a tad worried that they were caught up in wishful thinking. History, the subject I teach, plainly shows that both big parties can rebound from drubbings.

I remember 1968 and 1976. In 1964, LBJ clobbered Barry Goldwater. I was just 14, but I joined grownup Democrats in gleefully dubbing the election “Goldwaterloo.”

Four years later, I cast my first presidential vote for Hubert Humphrey, who is still one of my all-time favorite Democrats. Nixon won.

In 1976, we got the White House back with Jimmy Carter.

goposaurIn 2009, we got the tea party. In 2010, we got Speaker Boehner, and we’re still stuck with him and a Republican-majority house, though we’ve whittled down their numbers.

Don’t get me wrong. I fervently hope I’m off base in sweating a GOP comeback. Yet I don’t see the Republicans going the way of the dinosaurs, at least not any time soon.

Part of the lefty argument that the Republicans are on the road to extinction is based on the idea of imminent civil war between the country clubbers and the not-so-well-heeled tea party-types.

The same lefty prognostications of GOP internecine strife popped up after Obama won in 2008.

Oh, there is some intramural sniping and skirmishing in the GOP. That’s natural when you lose an election.

But the carping is mostly over style, not substance. I haven’t heard Boehner, Senate Minority Leader McConnell or the rest of the Republican establishment trashing the tea party or the tea-party-tilting, right-wing media echo chamber. That’s ditto for the self-exiled Mitt Romney.

The GOP bigwigs, most of them millionaires, know there aren’t enough other millionaires to elect them. So they’ll keep cozying with the Obama-is-a-gay-Kenyan-born-Islamo-Socialist-who-hates-America-Jesus-guns-and-white-people Caucasian crowd, most of whom don’t live on Easy Street.

Most importantly, though, the country club Republicans and the tea party-types are in fundamental agreement on a key point: they despise government, especially the federal government — except for the military.

They see the Democrats as the “government party.”

Oh, the Republicans aren’t entirely anti-government. The GOP is way cool with Uncle Sam advancing their interests.

The 2012 Republican platform includes a call for Congress to help bust unions. The GOP wants a national right to work law, which would allow every American worker to freeload by enjoying union-won wages and benefits without joining the union or paying union dues. Meanwhile, the GOP is for state legislatures passing right to work laws.

The platform also endorses a constitutional amendment outlawing abortion. It contains no exceptions for rape or incest.

Still another plank backs state laws defining marriage as between a man and a woman. Some Republicans also favor a constitutional amendment to prevent gay people from getting married.

In other words, the Republicans are cool with Uncle Sam showing up in the bedroom, just not the boardroom.

At the same time, some Republican Christians of the Jesus-loves-me-but-He-can’t-stand you persuasion think it’s dandy to wed their church to our state. They want a constitutional amendment declaring the United States a Christian nation.

So it doesn’t matter what Republicans mean by “getting government off our backs.” Their enemy is government, period. Country clubbers and tea partiers both pine for an America mostly run by white folks, mainly by white men but with exceptions for the likes of Sarah Palin and Michele Bachmann and for rare minority reactionaries like former Congressman Allan West and Sen-elect Ted Cruz.

Berry CraigcMake no mistake, I’d love to see the right-wing crazies start their own party. That really would doom the GOP. But I suspect most of them will take a lesson from the Puritans of old who, unlike the Pilgrim few, opted to stay in the Church of England to “purify” it from within.

Again, I’d love to eat my words and feast on crow and humble pie. But from the front stoop of my old Kentucky home, I see the GOP as down again, but not out.

Berry Craig

Monday, 10 December 2012


  1. two crows says

    I agree, Berry. I remember a time when the media was playing the death knell for the Democratic party. The cartoons of the donkey not knowing its ass from its elbow were legion. And we came back.

    Almost certainly, the elephant will find its way back, too. I hope it divorces itself from the fringe it cultivated only to regret it. A minimum of two REASONABLE parties is necessary for a democratic republic to thrive and right now, this nation doesn’t qualify.

    The recent talk, among Republicans, of abandoning the Southern Strategy for Howard Dean’s Fifty State Strategy bodes well for them – IF they follow through.

    In order to make that work, they will have to modulate their tone and actually become more inclusive rather than parse the words they will use to disenfranchise anyone who doesn’t look just like the older white men who control the party at the moment.

    If they’re not up to the challenge – – well – – my original premise still stands:
    At least two REASONABLE parties are necessary for the US to survive.

    If not the Dem’s and the Rep’s it will be the Dem’s and somebody else. It will have to be – – – or God help us every one.

  2. webcelt says

    I agree with the thrust of this piece. Too many Democrats have gotten cocky. Besides history, I would point out that Obama’s 3.5-4% win isn’t all that big, merely magnified by the electoral college. Despite winning most of the votes, we lost the House and lots of state legislatures. Partly that was because of gerrymandering, and partly it’s still hard to beat incumbents, but also because of where we live. Democrats tend to live in urban areas while Republicans are rural or in outer suburbs, and if redistricting respects municipal boundaries, then Democrats are hard to divide up. Republicans can be cut multiple ways, so even a non-partisan redistricting is likely to mean Democrats in heavily Democratic urban and inner suburban districts, while Republicans hold smaller majorities elsewhere. So both parties get built-in advantages. We’ll have an advantage in presidential races and maybe most state races, but Republicans have an advantage in anything districted.

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