From 'Permanent Majority' to 'Watch Your Back'

Wednesday, May 23, 2007 at 12:36 AM

It wasn't long ago that Fred Barnes, resident seer at The Weekly Standard was trumpeting the consolidation of the American shift from Democratic to Republican Party as, if not a permanent state, certainly a long lasting one.

Here's what he actually said shortly after the November, 2004 election:
Realignment, Now More than Ever

The next best thing to a permanent majority.

....

KARL ROVE SAID LAST YEAR that the question of realignment--whether Republicans have at last become the majority party--would be decided by the election of 2004. And it has. Even by the cautious reckoning of Rove, President Bush's chief political adviser, Republicans now have both an operational majority in Washington (control of the White House, Senate, and the House of Representatives) and an ideological majority in the country (51 percent popular vote for a center-right president). They also control a majority of governorships, a plurality of state legislatures, and are at rough parity with Democrats in the number of state legislators. Rove says that under Bush a "rolling realignment" favoring Republicans continues, and he's right. So Republican hegemony in America is now expected to last for years, maybe decades.

Listen to Walter Dean Burnham, professor emeritus at University of Texas at Austin, who is the nation's leading theorist of realignment, the shift of political power from one party to another. The 2004 election, he says, "consolidates it all"--that is, it solidifies the trend that has favored Republicans over the past decade. To Burnham, it means there's "a stable pattern" of Republican rule. "If Republicans keep playing the religious card along with the terrorism card, this could last a long time," he says. Burnham, by the way, is neither a Republican nor a conservative.

His definition of realignment is "a sudden transformation that turns out to be permanent." The breakthrough occurred in 1994 when Republicans shattered the 40-year Democratic grip on Congress and the statehouses.

Two and a half years later, we've got William Buckley writing a column titled "The Waning of the GOP."

We've got Frank Luntz, the former king of semantic manipulation for the GOP, writing on "How to revive the GOP":

Two years later, millions of Perot voters switched to the Republicans and helped them grab control of Congress. They stayed with the GOP for a decade because the party represented “good government.” But red ink budgets, earmarked appropriations for bridges to nowhere, endless ethics scandals and a debacle of a war made them mad once again. In 2006 they deserted the GOP in droves and turned control of Congress back to the Democrats.

...

It is unfortunate that the Republican Party is currently dominated by hyperpartisan, gut-punching professional politicians and expert technicians whom I wouldn’t want to face at the dark end of the electoral alley. They specialize in the flawless execution of “wedge” politics.

...

My polls show that Democrats now hold a perceived advantage with voters not just on reducing deficits and balancing the budget but on an issue long seen as a GOP strength: ending wasteful spending. That alone should jar Republicans into taking a fresh approach.

...

Republicans lost their congressional majority because they lost touch with what Americans really want. As a pollster, I rarely hear voters call for smaller government. They tell me that they want more efficient and more effective government.

And the Republican bickering is getting loud. The Republican "big tent" is, in fact, having a serious dispute between tables in that tent. Specifically, the far right Christian evangelical table appears to be getting reprimanded by several other tables. Take, for example, this from an author who is herself a Christian and certainly no lover of Democrats or moderation (she refers to Democrats as Stalinist, among other endearments):
Sorry Dr. Dobson, But There Is A Season For All Things Under Heaven

by Marie Jon

Within the GOP there are well-meaning individuals who need to keep their convictions to themselves. Dr. James Dobson, founder of Focus On The Family, spoke words that were intended to tarnish Senator Fred Thompson. On a slow news day, Dobson, in a prearranged statement, singled out a good man to impugn his Christianity.

...

Evidently, Thompson and Romney are not Godly enough for Dr Dobson, however, Newt Gingrich is. This is because Dr. Dobson and the religious right have their own political agenda that does not necessarily appeal to all GOP voters. There are Republicans who don't wear their religion on their sleeves. That the Party (and, ergo America) can ill-afford such condescending comportment goes far beyond understatement.

The grim facts must be understood by every conservative Republican. There will be gnashing of teeth and calamities never seen before in America's history if we do not elect Republican president in 2008. "The Grand Old Party" must take back this country and get serious about leading it or we all will be in deep trouble.

Republicans, who claim to be the party of reason (versus emotion, of which they accuse the opposition) should be smarter than this. We are in a fight for our lives and we need to not only understand the days we are living in, but enlighten others as well.

...

What we do not need is religious potentates telling us whom we should not vote for. We can't afford to have conservatives stay at home on Election Day because they don't like the Republican candidate. As citizens, they have a duty to vote, particularly in the upcoming 2008 General Election.

Republicans lost their majority in part because of their own backbiting. ...

It is time for all Godly people to pray and listen to His voice. We know what needs to be done in the voting booth.

Let's move forward without finger pointing. There is a bevy of GOP candidates who have good political qualities and are worthy of the office of President. We are most fortunate because our candidates will vow to protect the unborn (if they wish to get nominated).

...

We are tossed to and fro by those who want to enforce a religious Evangelical litmus test. As a result we could lose once again come Election Day. We simply can't allow that to happen. The Democrats will win the day and force their liberal socialistic regimen on a war-tired lackadaisical nation. Keep your minds open and take us to a win in 2008.

Ignoring the contradiction between rejecting a litmus test and pretty much insisting that any candidate must oppose abortion in order to get the nomination, that's a pretty blatant put down of a man who was, until very recently, an immensely powerful influence in the GOP.

Blogger Lance Mannion has an explanation for the dire condition of the GOP:

Whatever angle you come at it, you arrive at the same point: The Republican Party is the party of people who believe they are exempt. The Party is run by people who have taken full advantage of their self-granted exemptions and they will continue to bring into it other people exactly like themselves.

If you are an honorable young conservative who believes the rules ought to apply to everybody, there simply is no place for you in the Republican Party.

Which means a generation from now, if the Party is still around, it will only be worse.

Essentially, he thinks that you can trace the downfall back to Nixon, whose administration must have prodded many an ethical conservative to flee the GOP, depriving it of a generation of competent members, and leaving too much of the party's structure in the hands of Nixonian types like the Rumsfelds and Cheneys. And now Bush.

If there's any validity to that theory, you can rest assure that the US Attorney firings in particular and the workings of the Justice Department in general will, when the details do finally become known, discourage another generation of ethical conservatives, leaving that party to the Monica Goodlings of the world.

But who knows?

I think it may be better to just let George Orwell explain the whole demise of the GOP in more abstract terms:

Power worship blurs political judgment because it leads, almost unavoidably, to the belief that present trends will continue. Whoever is winning at the moment will always seem to be invincible.

From Orwell's essay "James Burnham and the Managerial Revolution."

As someone who finds the policies and the corruption of the Republican majority repulsive, this is a very welcome development. And something for the Democrats to remember, as well. Third parties can, I think, still rise from the ashes of arrogance and ignorance, as long as the country itself survives.

Comments

Your typesetting is pretty, Tom. And you're right, of course, there is corruption on both sides of our government.

I do seem to remember, though, that earlier you posted comments about parties being responsible for things as long as the president was a member of that party. Why the swap now? If the Cold War was one by a Republican, and a Republican alone, then it stands to reason that corruption now is the fault of a single party, because that party is in charge.

That's a ridiculous argument, of course. But then, you're a ridiculous person. How can you think that all corruption is the fault of the Republicans? Doesn't that bother you, Tom? ... Tom?

~A!

that's a bit harder to understand so don't worry if you don't get it immediately ...

Golly gosh Tom, you sure are so much smarrrter than us'ns. Whut makes ya so goldurned smart, there Tom, is it jhest nat ural or is it sum kinda gift from God for being so goldurned smug and con descending?

It seems that "Tom" just won't recognize that he won't be allowed to respond on this site.

He should just understand that this site isn't interested in any rightwing discussion of the news or politics.

Just go away you troll.