The Republican Party Has Crossed the Rubicon
The Republican Party of the United States has crossed the Rubicon. It has become the first openly Reactionary Party since perhaps the days of the Civil Rights Struggles. The evidence is straight-forward: Gerrymandering, stacking the Judiciary, packing all low-level posts, and perhaps outright fraud.
The Oxford Universal Dictionary defines “Reaction”:partly as “A movement toward a reversal of an existing tendency or state of things, esp. in politics, a return, or desire to return, to a previous condition of affairs”
A Reactionary Party is one who knows their time is passing and so struggles all the more fiercely to hold on to power. They have historically only been successful for a limited time. The longer they are capable of holding at bay a society's coming changes, the higher the water behind the dam grows. And when it finally does break, the long-denied will of those they have opposed becomes more and more vengeful.
Seen from the perspective of both the National Republican Leadership this move into a Reactionary Stage makes perfect and necessary sense. They are not blind: They’ve seen the future, and it is Die Untergang of their White, Christian, Male dominated world: The demographics are not in their favor. The minorities are increasing their populations and overtaking the white majority. The urban and suburban poor are growing in number and frustration. And that knowledge has frightened them badly: They have no desire to feel what it is like to be a minority.
So, what do you do if you feel power about to slip through your fingers?
Anything you can, apparently. Even if it means throwing out what the nation’s Founding Fathers agreed on was to be their hallmark of a free people: A Representative Democracy. That is exactly what Gerrymandering is. And that is exactly what the Republican Party has de-facto adopted as their national policy.
In a Representative Democracy, the constituents chose a representative. Gerrymandering perverts that. It becomes instead, a Representative choosing a constituency. That effectively takes away any meaningful vote from citizens when it comes to electing someone who will represent the majority view of a district.
The Republican-pushed spate of Voter I.D. Laws under the guise of “preventing voter fraud” is another example of their strategy. Making as many hurdles as possible to newer, poorer voters, many of whom are recent immigrants, cuts down on the numbers of those they see as overwhelmingly likely to vote for Democrats, and thereby jeopardize their hold on power.
Packing the Appeals courts and other life-time posts guarantees life after death for the G.O.P.'s agenda. Packing the Judiciary is the policy of a party who knows they will be losing elected office but still wants to have their way.
And then there is good-old-fashioned election fraud, which is the elephant in the corner of the room few wish to even broach, except mumbling darkly about “Russian Meddling”. (The Russians by the way, have not forgotten America's meddling that saddled them with the ruinous Boris Yeltsin for a decade... Can't you just hear the average Russian saying “Payback is a bitch, isn't it?”)
Why has the Grand Old Party found itself in this quandary? Not simply because they really hold those values dear. But because of the backers they've turned to more and more in order to stay in power, who do hold those values dear: The wealthiest Elites, the Fundamentalist Christians, and the Rural Whites. The G.O.P. has made a deal with the Devil that will come due.
Part of their power base, the arch-conservative rural white voters, have long sensed the slipping away of their time, their culture. The chants from Charlottesville, Virginia this summer of the Radical Right: “You wouldn’t replace us!”, or of the Police in Ferguson Missouri: “These are OUR streets!” verbalize it. There are two conclusions that can be drawn from such public outbursts. One: There is a portion of the electorate who does not feel a part of this country anymore. Call it Post-Civil War Redux. Two: This portion believes a sizeable part of the nation sides with them. Otherwise they would not feel so free to speak out.
The Elite seem to be bent on re-creating a feudal society, where the world is safe for their harvesting and the masses have no rights. The Christian Right wants a Theocracy, ramming their view of social policy down the nation's throat. And the rural right has no real thoughts, only an emotional knee-jerk reflex that wants to see all of what they see as Washington’s privileged brought down.
The Republicans may be painting themselves into a corner but the Democrats are in no position to take advantage of that by wooing the new voters. For now, they seem to be taking those potential new voters as a given. That will be a mistake.
For the voters are not running to the Democrats with open arms. Frankly, those who are not already ideologically committed to the Reactionary view see little difference between mainstream Republicans and Democrats. They see them as equally morally and ethically bankrupt. They are both viewed as just bent on getting elected to make themselves rich by selling out their constituents to the highest bidder.
The Democrats made a deliberate policy change at the national level after Michael Dukakis' defeat at the hands of George Bush Sr.. It was a divorce from their ideological background and a retreat to the right. They felt it was justified after Clinton's win in 1994. (Though most of the success was really due to Ross Perot's siphoning off votes from Bush).
The Republican strategy of going back to the grassroots and getting Republicans filling all local seats caught the Democrats flat footed and was extremely effective.
What is really left for voters then? Two parties: One of which is seemingly bent on destroying democratic traditions, the other is flailing for footing. So, how about a Third Party? Been tried before.
Third parties rise during periods of dissatisfaction with the Big Two. But in the U.S. the deck is impenetrably stacked against third parties. All they can do is act as spoilers. They cannot broach the power structure based on the entrenched two-party system. Even if a Third-Party candidate won the presidency, the other branches of government, the agencies, the local and state governments all would still remain loyal to that old two party system that landed them their positions, that 'good old boys club' that jealously guards its prerogatives of power and wealth. They would tie the hands of the Third-Party President in knots.
The Republican Party's cooler heads may yet prevail and find a way of converting itself into something pertinent to the changing demographics. Hopefully, at least they may reconsider this Pyrrhic Victory they're setting in place.