Every week on Monday morning, the Council and invited guests weigh in at the Watcher’s Forum with short takes on a major issue of the day. This week’s question: Can the Republican Party come back, or will a new party emerge?
The Glittering Eye: Of course the Republican Party can come back. Right now its major problems are three:
1. Internecine warfare, which Michael Gerson has characterized as a battle between
reformers and rejectionists.
2. An inability to get their voters to turn out.
3. Alienation of the fastest-growing voting bloc (Hispanics).
None of these are necessarily permanent problems, although if the Republican leadership wants to, it can make them permanent.
If it doesn’t come back, we’ll effectively have a one party system. Present structures ensure that no third party will emerge to challenge the Democrats and Republicans.
The Noisy Room: As the Republican Party is currently constituted, no. But to reconstitute itself, it needs new faces, new leadership, new resolve, a fresh review of principle and a better understanding of both its enemies and its friends. It’s possible for a new party to emerge from within the Republican Party, taking over the Republican Party and there are possible advantages to this in that there is much infrastructure that will not need to be recreated, but absent the first option and lacking any uprising from within, then a third party becomes not only possible, but necessary. The Republicans should go the way of the Whigs if they don’t recommit to true constitutional principles and actions.
It’s worth comparing 2012 with 2010 to answer this question.
2010 was an election when the GOP base turned out, sparked by Sarah Palin and Jim DeMint’s energy and fought by the GOP establishment every step of the way. In fact, if it hadn’t been for the buffoonish antics of RNC head Michael Steele spending scads of money on his personal lifestyle and on hopeless RINOs like Carly Fiorina while ignoring candidates like Dino Rossi, Sharon Angle and Ken Buck, who actually could have won with more funding and decent help on their ground game, the Republicans might have actually taken the Senate. There was widespread and open criticism of President Obama and his policies, and the midterm was largely a referendum on both.
2012, was the exact opposite. Mitt Romney was a good and decent man who would likely have made a good president, but he never resonated with the American people and allowed the Obama campaign to hide its own failures by demonizing him. He hid from the GOP’s conservative base like the plague, refused to attack the president in terms that meant much, made a number of unfortunate unforced errors and depended on the economy to carry him over the finish line. A key tip off was when Sarah Palin, one of the most effective communicators of conservatism in the party, was denied a speaking slot at the GOP convention. Aside from a few great moments like the first debate, he never excited the base, because he really didn’t speak their language. The debacle of the third debate and Chris Christie’s photo-op with the president finished Mitt Romney off. So three million Republicans stayed home and President Obama won re-election with an historically low turnout.
And by the way, I don’t think the demographics argument holds as much water as the pundits would have it. Simply put, conservative ideas articulated well win, because it’s how life works. if the Republicans insist on being Democrat-lite, people will always vote for the real thing. Why not?
President Obama’s policies are economically unstable, and his foreign policy is a disaster waiting to happen. These things are going to become evident before 2016 and perhaps even before the 2014 midterms, and history abhors a vacuum. Most of the rising stars of the GOP got in with the 2010 surge, and even latecomers like Senator Ted Cruz identify more with the Tea Party wing of the party than the GOP establishment. The real question is whether the establishment is going to end its war on anyone identified with the Tea Party or conservatism. I don’t see that happening myself, although it’s possible.
By 2016, we will have had almost a quarter century of failed and flawed leadership, and I think it will be evident to the American people. If the GOP establishment doesn’t get hot or go home, I fully expect either a takeover of the GOP or a new party to emerge. If it’s the latter, it may lose in 2016 as Reagan did in 1976, but it will triumph in 2020 and usher in a new era of our American story.
The Independent Sentinel: A new party would take a decade or more to become viable – we don’t have a decade. I hope we don’t go that route though it could happen. There is a hole waiting to be filled.
We need to make the Republican Party a better party.
At the moment, we do not have substantive leadership. We have a good defensive lineup but no offense.
All my faith is in Marco Rubio, Ted Cruz, Condi Rice and a few others.
The Republican Party is a party in need of aggressive leadership. Only a very strong leadership could make their voices heard over the biased media.
Rhymes With Right: I remember this question — some 40 years ago in the wake of Watergate. Can the GOP come back? Can it survive? And within a decade the GOP did come back under Ronald Reagan, sweeping the nation in an entirely new direction bringing a nation back to greatness following the collapse of the Johnson Administration, the scandals of the Nixon years, the Ford interregnum and the Carter malaise. Nobody could have expected such a comeback except for the visionaries who engineered it and the cast of supporting actors who caught the vision put forth by Ronald Reagan and completely swept aside the previous balance of power in our body politic.
I believe that something similar will happen in the wake of the Obama wave — a tsunami that is likely to do to our system of government what was done to Japan’s coastline following not long ago.
The thing is, it will be a different party than we see today, just as that new party birthed in 1980 was different from what was seen before. And it is hard to envision what it will look like.
If I had to make a guess, I would say it will still be a conservative party. That said, I envision it being a more libertarian conservative party than it has been, with the social conservatives having to accept that they are the junior partners in the coalition. As such, the GOP will still support low taxes and smaller government — but it will not focus on social issues nearly so much. It will, as Ted Cruz has recently been emphasizing, need to present to Americans — all Americans, including racial minorities and immigrants — a vision of America as an opportunity society where everyone can prosper if government just gets out of the way. It will have to present itself as the party of rights for all — with the first right being the right to be left alone by government. And we must get that message to the younger generation, a generation that has been hoodwinked by the false hopes and harmful changes sold to them by the current incumbent and his acolytes.
Let me note one more thing — it will be a party in which many of our newest and brightest stars will be racial and ethnic minorities. It is no accident that the only Hispanic and Asian governors today are Republicans and that in recent years the only black members of Congress elected from predominantly white districts are Republicans as well. We can and do (and in the future must) groom men and women of quality — regardless of race — who attract support across racial and ethnic lines, as opposed to the Democrat model of creating congressional bantustans from which come the most radical and hateful voices of racial and class division.
Who will be the voices of this renewed GOP? I would suggest Ted Cruz as one, but he will not be alone. Bobby Jindal, Susana Martinez, Marco Rubio, Brian Sandoval and Tim Scott will be in the vanguard as well. From among that group of 6 I anticipate seeing at least two Presidents and one Vice President emerge, as well as one at least Supreme Court justice. I also suspect we will see others emerge as leaders — all men and women who are today under the age of 50 (indeed, some of them at least a decade younger) who will be the leaders of the next generation.
Will this new party be able to change the direction of America and restore our country as America did? It must — and that must be the task of every lover of our Republic.
The Right Planet: Right now I believe it is crucial that the GOP leadership understand that Republicans, Conservatives and Tea Party Movement must present a united front, despite internecine struggles. We must work together. I think the introduction of a third party would prove disastrous and only guarantee a Democrat dictatorship for eons to come. It is what it is. The Republican establishment that insists on losing and fighting from losing positions must simply be swept aside. There is no more time to waste, if it isn’t too late already.
Furthermore, I think it is paramount for the Republicans to find “common ground” with libertarians and like-minded individuals, with whom there is much in common. This is a collusion that is just starting to bud and I’m all for it. For example, don’t drive the Ron Paul supporters away, bring ‘em on board. At least offer the invite. The same strategy should be applied to other voting blocs (minorities and the like), as well–working at the grassroots level. The question should not be what divides us, but what unites us! And a lot of people can still get down with freedom and liberty.
Bookworm Room: The Republican Party is desperately ill, and it refuses either to die or get better. We all hoped in 2012 that opposition to Obama would revitalize the GOP, but it didn’t. Entrenched interests at the top simply wouldn’t move or change.
In theory, America is ripe for a third party — and the Tea Party certainly has a good infrastructure in place. To the extent, though, that the media quite successfully demonized Tea Partiers as racist, gun-crazed, abortionist-murder lunatics, I don’t know that it can leverage itself into a true political party in time for the 2016 election. Indeed, because the media seems to be more powerful than ever, despite its decision to abandon any pretense of objectivity, I honestly don’t think any third party can succeed. It will get the true believers, but it will not be able to make the leap to ordinary Americans, who will be conditioned to view it with deep suspicion.
In a funny way, I think Rand Paul (about whom I’m very lukewarm) is the best hope. He’s already positioned to take Libertarian and Tea Party votes, and he’s been working hard to engage with ordinary conservatives, especially Jews and others who support Israel. He’s not waiting for a third party. He’s trying to be the third party.
Well, there you have it.
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