Tuesday, September 9, 2014

REPUBLICANS 101---The Endgame

For various reasons, mostly concerned with Obama's performance as President, it is assumed the Democrats will take a bit of a beating in the 2014 off-year elections. The Republicans will increase their edge in the House and will gain Senate seats as well. Whether they will take control of the Senate is uncertain---most analysts predict it will be “close”---but that would appear to be the only area of suspense.

The mainstream segment of the Republican Party has spent a great deal of money defeating conservative candidates in primaries (often in close races and sometimes, as in Mississippi, by cheating). Behind the scenes, much time and treasure has also been expended in subverting and co-opting the larger tea party groups so they no longer represent the views they did just two or three years ago. Conservative Republicans have been largely neutered for the 2014 elections. It is the Boehner-McCain-Graham-McConnell Republican caucus---the “good old boy” wing---that has won the primaries and will win the general as well.

And then what? What if, for example, the Republicans win control of both houses of Congress beginning in January 2015?

Will they vote to repeal Obamacare? Well, they haven't exactly promised to do that, have they? There has been no discussion of it for almost a year, though because of the way it was passed, Republican majorities could vote to repeal with no danger of a Democratic filibuster in the Senate. Obama could veto such a bill, of course, but some Democrats might feel considerable electoral pressure to go along with the repeal. In any event, what's the downside for Republicans in doing so?

One thing Republicans could certainly do is cut back federal spending. The government continues to borrow $2.5 million per minute, each and every minute, either from foreign governments or from the American people (by debasing the currency), and the House of Representatives could put a stop to it by refusing to appropriate more funds than there are tax revenues. The House could shut down Obamacare, or the Department of Education, or the EPA, or it might simply pare down all expenditures for all departments. But under the control of the Good Old Boy wing, it won't. The Republicans could have done that at any time since taking over the House in 2010, but they haven't done so.

And that's the problem, of course. The GOB wing of the Republican Party is simply hoping to benefit from Obama's manifest incompetence and unpopularity, but it is not promising to do anything with the additional power they will obtain in November. And they won't do anything. If they were going to, they would have done it already, or some of it. Gaining control of Congress, in fact, will be a fatal blow for the Party. As they decline to use the Constitutional powers of the legislative branch, their electoral base will melt away. Much of it already has, but the decline has been masked by Obama's even-more-precipitous fall from grace. Doing nothing, with majorities in both houses of Congress, will anger and disappoint what is left of the Republican base.

And that will be the end of the Republican Party, at least as it is currently constituted. The GOB wing might succeed in nominating one of its own (Chris Christie, Jeb Bush, Mitt Romney), for president in 2016, but it will never succeed in electing another president. This was the (unlearned) lesson of the 2012 presidential election.

What happened in 2012 had never happened before. Never in our history (barring a few oddball situations with third-party candidates), had an incumbent president been re-elected with fewer votes than he had in his first election. Incumbents either get more votes the second time around or they lose. Elections of this sort constitute a referendum on the first term.

And viewing it as a referendum, Obama was soundly rejected. He won ten million fewer votes in 2012 than he had in 2008. However, he was returned to office anyway. This happened because America's fondness for the prevailing brand of Republicans had fallen even farther and faster than Obama had. The trend is plain enough. McCain was not embraced. Romney was flat-out rejected. Jeb Bush or Chris Christie will be laughed at.

The conservatives and libertarians will inherit the party or forge a new one, and it's even possible this could happen before the 2016 elections. Even if it does, however, will the new opposition party be powerful enough under Rand Paul or Ted Cruz or any of the others to derail President Hillary? Doubtful, especially since the new kids are hated by the Boehners and McCains of the world and will get no assistance from them.

But the Republican Party, as we know it, is finished. The Karl Rove party is history, and the future custodians of liberty and freedom in America will be constitutionalists, libertarians, conservatives and the like. It is not the immediate future, however, and there may not be any liberty and freedom left by the time there is once again a political party that wants to protect it.