Stray Thoughts on Republican Irrelevance

June 3, 2009

Via NeoMugwump, Obama seems to have an interesting anti-Republican strategy in play:

Between high-profile conversions from the Northeast to the Midwest to the Rocky Mountain West — not to mention Obama’s warm relations with the nation’s two most prominent moderate Republican governors, California’s Arnold Schwarzenegger and Florida’s Charlie Crist — it’s beginning to look like a strategy that isolates conservatives, reinforces the impression that the GOP is defined by the borders of the Deep South and all the while underscores Obama’s stated goal of working across party lines.

“Boxing the Republicans into a South-dominated party is very good strategy, because the more you reduce the Republican Party, the more conservative and reactionary it will become, and thus less attractive to moderates,” said Tom Schaller, a University of Maryland-Baltimore County professor and the author of “Whistling Past Dixie: How Democrats Can Win Without the South.” “The Midwest and the Northeast are the places where there are still remnants of old-line Rockefeller Republicans. And these are the places where the Democrats will build durable majorities.”

Here’s an interesting thought experiment. Lets assume Obama’s strategy works, and the Republicans are relegated to the South, alienate everyone whose skin color is darker than snow or whose ideas are contrary to those of their favorite entertainers. Suppose they lose all their support in the Northeast and cease to be players in the Midwest. Suppose further that they shed considerable chunks of what was once safe territory (i.e. Virginia) to shifting demographics. Suppose they are crippled internally and unable to reform, bound to a fanatical base and a cowardly leadership. Suppose that the decline in their popularity does not bottom out in the near future. At what point in this process do we declare the GOP, for all intensive purposes, no longer a major party in American Politics? When 20% of the electorate self-identifies as Republican? 15%?  We call a party fringe in Europe when it gets those kinds of poll numbers, as Le Pen did back in 2002. Ditto in local politics, as those of us who lived through the Ventura administration would be hardpressed to forget.  Why should it be any different for the GOP? And what would it mean if it did?

Just a passing thought I suppose. But not a completely implausible one, given those latest poll numbers. Interesting times indeed.

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2 Responses to “Stray Thoughts on Republican Irrelevance”

  1. HC, I hope the GOP rebuilds itself. Not as a phoenix rising from ashes, wearing the same old plumage made anew, but rather as a party of genuine conservatives, people who hold tradition, community, small gov and non-intervention as cornerstones of their party’s platform. I don’t believe the GOP will die, but if it continues on the current path, it would be better for all if it did. Hypocrisy eats at the soul, of men and of parties.

    Jake

  2. This presumes the “base” and current GOP politicians will continue to enjoy losing elections 61-39 percent as an act of “principle”. The difference between major and non-major parties is that non-major candidates no right from the start they will not win any election they contest unless its for the county Water Commision. The run simply for the sake of being in debate and influence it. If that’s how Republican politicans start to act in the future then one can say they have slipped from major party status. But losing has a way of changing the dynamics within a party. Right now that hasn’t happened it, but eventually it will. Eventually they will run out of excuses and then we’ll see what happens.

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