GOP Increasingly Irrelevant… Willingly?
At this rate, the GOP just might be reduced to a novelty in a political gift shop or a history textbook instead of being an active political party! Consider this:
1) Long-time Republican Sen. Arlen Specter is thinking of running for re-election as an Independent (a’la Lieberman) in 2010, because his party has become too right-wing and too anti-union for him to win the primary.
2) Ex-Sen. Chuck Hagel calls it “a very foolish, foolish move” if the RNC tries to purge the GOP of its moderate Senators. He further attacked his own party for a “kind of silliness” when “people expect serious people … to govern seriously.” He believes the party is head off the cliff and into irrelevancy if they don’t start offering more than “no” as an alternative to dealing with America’s various challenges.
Now, one dissenting voice on this opinion appears to Matt Ygelsias, an intelligent liberal blogger I’ve enjoyed reading of late.
He agrees with a James Joyner, who concludes that America will always be a “center-right” nation, in that we generally want the majority to have what it has, and for there to be very little change as long as the good times roll. In effect, they seem to be saying that progressive governance comes up in times of crisis (New Deal, Great Society), but is only a temporary victory over the stronger forces of the status quo.
Why temporary? Because whatever policy changes are enacted often move into the mainstream to the point where not even the Right is willing to make a concerted to dismantle most of them.
Yglesias also thinks that a successful progressive President under Obama will just make it safer for people to vote Republican the next time around. I don’t think that’s right – I don’t think Americans are reflexively Republican. I think they are reflexively skeptical – and Republicans feed that skepticism without somehow paying the price for being even more hypocritical and incompetent than they claim the Democrats are.
But it is increasingly clear that, despite all their noise and bluster, the Republicans really are willing to be as irrelevant as possible by avoiding anything that resembles participation in the work that has to be done in the next two years. The question is whether America will extract a price from the GOP for their do-nothingism.