Robert Reich makes a strong argument that the Republican party is finally unraveling. Ronald Reagan managed to put together a coalition of different factions who put aside their huge differences and united against common enemies, namely “communists and terrorists abroad, liberals and people of color at home”. But the 2012 presidential primary exposed the cracks in the party, along with its crackpots:
The Party offered up a Star Wars barroom of oddball characters, each representing a different faction — Bachmann, Perry, Gingrich, Cain, Santorum. Each rose on the strength of supporters and then promptly fell when the rest of the Party got a good look.
The Republican libertarian faction (led by Ron Paul) openly fought with the social conservatives. The big business and Wall Street wing (who are bankrolling the whole operation in return for their tax breaks and subsidies) fought with the “nativists and racists in the Party who want to exclude immigrants and prevent minorities from getting ahead”. And Grover Norquist’s shrink-the-government fanatics fought with the deficit hawks who (like Reagan) don’t mind raising taxes in order to reduce the size of the deficit.
The 2012 election exposed something else about the GOP: it’s utter lack of touch with reality, its bizarre incapacity to see and understand what was happening in the country. Think of Karl Rove’s delirium on Fox election night.
But the biggest problem with the GOP is that it has become a joke. As Bobby Jindal put it, the Republicans need to “stop being the stupid party”.
So what will they stand for instead? A telling article in The Atlantic asked GOP lawmakers at the Republican National Committee meeting what the Republican Party should stand for. These are the people who should be building policy for the GOP, and yet they couldn’t agree at all. Bottom line? “GOP leaders don’t just want to be the party of ‘no’ — but they have a hard time articulating what they want to say ‘yes’ to.”
For now, the last remaining thing holding the Republican party together is their hatred of the president and his administration. But that only makes them look petty and out-of-touch with the rest of America. Think of the toothless attacks on Hillary Clinton during the Benghazi hearing, filled with all the rage of a grumpy old man yelling at kids to stay off his lawn.
Reagan espoused happy nationalism using patriotic imagery. The GOP has now given itself over to the dark side of that force.