As I was watching Hardball with Chris Matthews last night I couldn’t help but see the dust-up between Pat Buchanan and Mike Paul; a black Republican strategists. The exchange between the two highlighted the current state of influx for the Republican Party and the deep divisions that are becoming more pronounced with each passing day. What many are missing is not that the Republicans lost; it is how they lost and why they lost that should be examined. I am not sure that they have the willingness or the humility for self-examination and without self-examination there can be no change. The struggles within the Republican Party are not new; it is just that they were able to mask them behind their “cultural wars” and false patriotism. Now that those rhetorical arguments have been ignored by the electorate the party is being exposed for who they truly are.
The true nature of the Republican Party has been and remains exclusionary versus inclusionary. Rather than wanting to expand their base they want to continue to cling to a shrinking version of an America long since past. Listening to Pat Buchanan one is reminded of why the Republicans are becoming a regional minority party. Mr. Buchanan characterized the Latino and minority voters who by the way are the fastest growing block of voters as being “big government” proponents because they are looking for hand-outs. This is an insult to all of the hard working immigrants and minorities in this country and represents the type of insensitivity that was so evident in the last election. As Mr. Paul tried to suggest the country is changing and the Republicans need to change. Pat Buchanan’s answer was to stick his fingers in his ears and pretend it is still 1964. If this is going to be the Republican answer to the changing demographics in America then their fate is sealed.
I have heard the argument that we need the Republican Party to regroup and become a strong opposition to strengthen our democracy. While I agree that we must have other alternatives to one party rule that doesn’t necessarily mean it has to be this party. If a party becomes irrelevant and opposed to change by its own design then another one will rise to replace it. Anyone remember the Whig Party, the Know-Nothings, or how about the States Rights Party? We have a long history of parties rising and falling in America and today is no different. There will always be an opposition party no matter who is the majority or governing party. When a party loses touch with the electorate and the important issues of that electorate then they deserve to become extinct like all other organisms that do not evolve. They may continue to press their agenda but if that agenda is not considered relevant by those who are being asked to support it in a democracy then the people will seal its fate.
America is changing and there are many Republicans and some Democrats alike who find that fact frightening and will continue to cling to their fears and try to stoke the fears of likeminded people, but make no mistake the genie cannot be put back in the bottle. We cannot turn the clock back to the “good old days” when power was concentrated in the hands of a few white men only nor should we. If the Republicans want to continue to run their national campaigns on issues like fear, abortion, and gay-marriage they have every right to and I for one will support their right to do so. However, if the electorate decides that those issues no longer resonate then the Republicans will have a choice to make. They are obviously not at the place where they are ready to make that choice. They continue at least publically to reiterate the same tired rhetoric that has failed them in recent elections. Let the ice age begin. Unless they have a plan to deport all minorities, immigrants, and people who accept diversity not as a necessary evil but as a desired outcome then they shall go the way of the Bull Moosers and good riddance.
The Republicans have maybe two more election cycles to either reach out to more Americans or become insignificant as a national party. They will always have their regional, cultural, and ethnic issues and the voters that these type of arguments appeal to. The problem is that this blocks of voters is becoming smaller and smaller. If anyone is willing to see beyond the numbers there is a gradual but perceptual shift in the American electorate. The problem with many Americans whether they be pundits, political experts, or the general public is that we refuse to accept something until it is right in our faces. It is this lack of foresight that allowed us to believe that there would be no consequences to invading Iraq, spending money like a drunken sailor, or removing the regulations on the greediest among us.
What the Republicans have to come to grips with is that it is not the face of the messenger that counts, it is the message stupid! So whether it is Colin Powell at the UN or Gonzalez at Justice if the policies are whack dressing them up with an acceptable messenger doesn’t make them plausible. Crap is still crap no matter who is spewing it.
Friday, November 14, 2008