Present at the Creation: The Birth of a Niche Party

I need more time to explore this idea (and I will after the election), but I want to post a brief summary in advance. The idea?

The GOP is being reborn, before our eyes, as a niche party.

As many have noted, there is a crackup coming. The Republican party is splintering and the grand Reagan coalition of social conservatives, fiscal conservatives, and foreign policy hawks is coming apart at the seams. The reasons for this all lie in the abject incompetence of the Bush administration.

  • The social conservatives have overreached with government meddling in people’s lives i.e. Terri Schiavo, no abortion even after rape and incest, etc.
  • The fiscal conservatives have seen government spending explode under Bush and our national debt double.
  • And the foreign policy hawks have seen their best intentions buried under the sands of Iraq.
  • What will be the result of this splintering?

    At first, niche status as the forces of Palinism continue to dominate the GOP. Eventually, a third party (at first of the mind, eventually, in practice) will splinter off.

    I don’t know who will retain the mantle of true Republican (they will both claim it) but the two parties will look like this:

  • One will be a white, working class, hard right, Christian, anti-intellectual party led by Sarah Palin.
  • The other will revert to classic conservatism in the Buckley mold governed by intellectuals and ideas. Not sure who will lead this one. Romney, perhaps?
  • The schism will be inflamed by the deep racial, nativist biases that have long lurked, sometimes at the surface, within the heart of the GOP. The practical result will be a long period out of power for this new, niche party.

    Now, this analysis assumes a win by Barack Obama. Obviously, we are in for a difficult time in the next four years. These difficulties will be compounded immeasurably by the unwillingness of a fairly large segment of Americans (the Palin party) to accept his presidency. Hatred and ugliness will dominate their politics. That said, an Obama win cannot be taken for granted, so this summary is a kind of “what-if” document to be fully explored after the election.

    But even if McCain somehow wins, the die is cast. This schism is breaking apart the Reagan coalition and will destroy the Republican party, casting it into permanent niche status. It is simply a matter of demographics and time. Once the split finally occurs, there may be a chance for an open, optimistic center-right conservatism to rise again.

    P.S. There is one man who could delay the unravelling. His name is David Petraeus (though I am not convinced that he wouldn’t run as a Democrat).


    2 Responses to Present at the Creation: The Birth of a Niche Party

    1. Lou Paulsen says:

      Actually, I generally agree with you. From a Marxist perspective, by the way, if that matters 🙂 It’s amazing to see the stuff that is done in the name of state and local GOP leaders these days. McCain seems like a man without a party, and meanwhile the Freepers are openly discussing the coming insurrection.

      I don’t quite think it’s a done deal whether the GOP ends up the niche party or whether it spins off its right wing.

      I have a much longer comment in mind, which I was already thinking about but which you have stimulated me to write down, but it’s not finished 😦


    2. sarahseanguest says:

      Ha. Ive been screaming this arguement otmy wife for about 5 years now. THe death of “states rights” inthe GOP. Also I coudl not agre more onthe niche party. I blogged the other day that the Palin model appeals to the same percentage of voters as does the anarchist, Earth Liberation Front, WTO protestor ideolgy does. 6-8% of the electorate. The difference is that that 8% block now controls a party that nominally represents 49.9% of the population. There is a major reckoning coming on. THe truth is that (and I am actually a firm believer in mild European style socialis) a principled and strong conservative movement is a healthy counterbalance in a political system. It prevents nannyism and spending run amok. But we we have now is NOT principled conservativism. We have theocratic fringe ideas wrapped in the flag of a once proud movement. Conservatives like Bill Kristol should be ABSOLUTELY ASHAMED of themselves. He wrote a NYT piece ripping into “Elites” and glorifying majority (re: uneducated non thinker) rule. Again, shame on you sir

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