Saturday, February 08, 2014

Have Republicans Secretly Given Up On Taking Back The White House?

As anyone with even rudimentary math skills can figure out, the Republican Party's chances of retaking the White House, at least by honest means, continue to diminish.  

Two recent developments -- the refusal of Senate Republicans to approve a modest extension of unemployment benefits for the long-term unemployed and the House Republican leadership's announcement that it won't play ball on immigration reform this year -- are slaps in the face of the middle class and Hispanics, two voting blocs that are fleeing the ever shrinking GOP in droves but it must curry favor with to win national elections. 
Then there is the party's jihad against the Affordable Care Act, which warts and all (and then have been plenty) is beginning to fulfill its promise of providing access to affordable health care for millions more Americans while lowering costs.  In other words, with every passing month, more people benefit and the party's high-decibel propaganda becomes a little more hollow.
Even given the Republican Party's march ever deeper into the national electoral wilderness, even given its steady metamorphosis into an overwhelmingly white party that worships the rich and disparages the poor, the elderly and the infirm, even given its refusal to stop fighting the culture wars (same-sex marriage, abortion, and so on) that fewer and fewer voters care about, even given its predilection for faux attention-diverting scandals like Benghazi, Solyndra and the New Black Panthers, a thought occurs to me:
Although no one will dare say so publicly, the leaders of the Tea Party lunatic fringe that has become the tail that wags the party dog don't care if the Oval Office remains out of the Republican grasp.  Pushing a conservative agenda in Congress and on the state level is enough.  This was all but confirmed in a New York Times article about Tea Party-backed PACs raising tons of money while PACs like moderate stalwart Karl Rove's Crossroads are treading water.  There was nary a peep about winning back the biggest prize of all.  Toppling moderate stalwarts like Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell of Kentucky was more important.
White House be damned.
* * * * *
One other factor makes my theory more plausible, or perhaps I should say less insane.
Having been burned badly with Mitt Romney, who was nominated in 2012 to face off against President Obama despite his questionable conservative bona fides, it is unlikely that the party will nominate anyone in 2016 who has even a faint whiff of moderation about him.  (Yo diehards: Romney still would have lost the election if he had won the swing states of Florida, Ohio and Virginia.) 
This no-fly list includes New Jersey Governor Chris Christie, who despite my assertions here, may be mortally wounded by revelations that he took political bullying and New Jersey's pay-to-play political culture to new heights.
(Meanwhile, for a list of lessons not learned in 2012 and since, check out "What Could Possibly Go Wrong?," my take on the Romney-Ryan collapse.) 
Beyond Little Ricky Santorum, whose claim to fame is that he was the last conservative clown standing in the Republican presidential primary clown car in 2012, the list of the party's presidential wannabes is a Who's Who of national unelectables.  Heck, even Ronald Reagan would be unable to get the nomination if he were alive today.
* * * * *
Back to that math thing: The problem within the problem for the Republican Party is that because of its continuing refusal to compromise on anything on the national level while alienating vast swaths of voters, the Democrats begin the 2016 presidential race with 246 electoral votes. They are California (55), Connecticut (7), Delaware (3), District of Columbia (3), Hawaii (4), New Hampshire (4), Illinois (20), Maryland (10), Massachusetts (11), Maine (4), Minnesota (10), Michigan (16), New York (29), New Jersey (14), Oregon (7), Pennsylvania (20), Rhode Island (4), Vermont (3), Wisconsin (10) and Washington (12).
Sure, you can quibble about a couple of these states, but the fact remains that the Democrats' traditional political base remains as solid as the Rock of Gibraltar and only 24 more electoral votes are needed to win it all.
Further complicating matters for Republicans is that political parties used to run on their accomplishments, but the GOP is unable to point to a single accomplishment since the eight year Bush-Cheney sinkhole.  That is unless you consider attacks on the president, some of them thinly veiled racism, hindering efforts to jumpstart a still struggling economy and shutting down government to be accomplishments.
* * * * *
I rest my case.
Uh, not so fast there.  Back to that "at least by honest means" thing: With ample assists from fabulously wealthy fascist oligarchs like the Koch Brothers, manipulating the rules of the game through laws to allow states to proportionally award their electoral votes to the popular vote winner in each congressional district, and a Supreme Court that has become a de facto arm of the Republican Party, anything is possible in 2016.
Still, for the time being, expect another Democratic landslide -- and the possibility that key Republicans don't give an elephant's ass if that is the case.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Your final point is well-taken; I won't be surprised at anything the Bros. Koch pull as things go down to the wire, and certainly SCOTUS remains a wild card. To your larger point, it seems the strategic game NOW is not the White House as much as setting up the "farm system." The Kochs and their wholly owned subsidiary, the American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC), are bidding not only to redraw legislative districts and rewrite election laws -- along with myriad other efforts to marginalize unions, push charter schools, etc. -- but also funding like-minded candidate selection for state and local primaries, to build the Tea Party brand from the ground up for a hoped-for eventual state takeovers than ultimately manifest up to Congress. These state-level actions ought to be extremely concerning to Democrats who seem still too close-focused on the presumed Senate takeover (which I'm not yet willing to see as a given) and the House GOP caucus disarray.