Republicans in the Wilderness

As I stated before, there is no doubt that the Republican Party will be spending some time on the outside looking in.  The only thing they can do at this point is to determine how long they’ll be out of power.  And of course there are all sorts of suggestions flying around, and a lot of them center on an argument similar to the one Bill Bennett advances in this interview, that the Republican Party has lost its roots, and needs to find them again.  Let me state that I think that a simple return to the past is not possible at this point.

Let me take a page from my World Civilization Class, and talk a little bit about the Congress of Vienna.  At the post-Napoleon rearranging of Europe, the dominant figure, Klemens von Metternich, the foreign minister of Austria, tried to arrange Europe so that none of the principles of the French Revolution would persist.  He tried to put the revolutionary djinn back into the bottle, so to speak.  And yet it didn’t work.  Within a few years, student movements had sprung up in Saxony and had to be eradicated by Austria and Prussia.  A few years later, revolutionary movements broke out in Spain and southern Italy.  Then, of course, there was the disastrous year of 1848, when most of Europe experienced revolutionary unrest.  In fact, 1848 led to the final downfall of the French Bourbons, and a short-lived reestablishment of the French Republic.  Of course, very few revolutions actually succeeded in changing much, but the fact of the matter was that they still happened, despite reactionary efforts to pretend that the French Revolution had never happened.  The fact of the matter is that once people gain knowledge, it’s near impossible to take it back.  There are no do-overs in history.

So color me skeptical that the GOP’s way forward is the way back.  It’s entirely possible that I could be mistaken.  But I think that there will have to be some changes.  And it won’t come easily.  The Democrats are supposed to be the “progressive”, the “forward-thinking” party, and some Dems had to be dragged into the new reality, kicking and screaming.

“Return to our roots” is the mantra that Bennett and many others hum as the gutting of the GOP continues.  And really, only time and the voters of the U.S.A. will be able to prove Bennett, myself, and the rest of the punditocracy right or wrong.  All speculation and assertion is useless for this sort of thing.  Because whether the GOP likes it or not, change is coming to them.

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Don’t Write the Republicans’ Eulogy Yet

If there’s one thing I have learned in my fairly short life so far, it’s that one should not completely trust any predictions, whether they be about the weather or the stock market.  And so I cringe a bit as I hear of serious conversations on DailyKos and the Huffington Post about banning the Republican Party.  Perhaps you can recall a few years ago, when Karl Rove and the Republicans were talking about a “permanent” Republican Party, and Zell Miller came out with a book entitled A National Party No More, condemning the Democrats for catering to the far left.  The irony, of course, is thick enough to choke on.  Every party has its ups and downs.  Four years ago, the Democrats seemed belaguered, having lost 2 presidential elections in a row, and having had no control of Congress, aside from a few brief patches, since the Class of ’94.  Yet the Democrats have come back to win the Oval Office with greater margins than either of the elections George W. won, and have secured their hold on both houses of Congress, drawing close to the crucial 60 votes in the Senate.  Unless the Republicans turn out like their predecessors, the Whigs, they will return to power, in all likelihood.  And the comparison to the Whigs seems a false analogy, since the Whigs never really gained traction; they only had 2 elected presidents, and both died.  My sense is that the Republicans will probably spend 6-8 years in the wilderness (don’t even consider another 1994; the circumstances are quite different), figuring out why they lost and retooling their message (hopefully).  Then they’ll come back onto the political stage, and the cycle will begin anew.

Here’s a justification for 2010 not being 1994 redux, which I agree with.

And, also from Marc Ambinder, thoughts about how the Republicans might respond to the Obama Administration.