G.O.P., R.I.P.

Events in Washington this New Year have finally made clear what many of us suspected but didn’t dare to admit.  The Republican Party as we’ve known it–or more precisely as we’ve all imagined it to be–the party of lower taxes, smaller government, and bastion of free enterprise, is dead.   Toe tagged. In the vault, waiting for burial. 

The moment that proved it wasn’t the extraordinarily awful deal Mitch McConnell reached offering $40 in tax increases for every dollar in spending cuts. It wasn’t even the complete moral and political  collapse of House Republicans in agreeing to the same deal.

It was watching President Obama in his weekend press conference all but taunting the GOP for agreeing to raise taxes. And the GOP leadership furiously responded to this insult to their honor, not to mention their manhood, by — agreeing to raise taxes.

It was like watching the French army in May 1940, with whole regiments throwing away their rifles and marching away into captivity with their officers  at their head, at the first sign of a German tank.

Of course, not every Republican caved.  Many voted against the biggest tax increase in 20 years.  Yes, there are still stalwarts out there in the House and Senate — not to mention in governors’ mansions and state houses.

But right now they’re like pebbles in a shoebox,with no cohesion or unifying message. All that’s been lost; first in Romney’s defeat and now in the Fiscal Cliff Dunkirk.

What do Republicans stand for? No one knows. Who’s their core constituency?  Who can say any more? 

There’s only one conclusion to reach. As presently constituted, the GOP  is no longer an effective vehicle for national governance. And the sooner that truth is realized, the faster a turnaround can begin. 

So even as the post-mortems pile up (including this one), serious people need to think about what replaces it, as the living carrier of conservative and constitutional principles.  

Does the GOP disappear like the old Whig Party, to be replaced by a new entity, a Tea Party-libertarian fusion that, like the Republican Party in 1860, can agree on a single issue that will propel it onto the national scene?  Right now that seems unlikely.

Or can it reconstitute itself on an entirely new basis, from the bottom up and from outside the Beltway in, with governors like Mitch Daniels and Scott Walker and John Kasich redirecting a Republican agenda back to what matters, i.e. shrinking the size and reach of the federal government and kickstarting real economic growth?

After all, out in the states conservative ideas are winning — witness Michigan’s new right to work law. Cutting taxes, reining in the power of public unions, escaping from the death grip of ObamaCare — they win working majorities. It’s only in Washington, where you can’t cross a street without bumping into a think tank like Heritage or AEI or Cato, that conservative ideas and principles seem to disappear into a Republican black hole.

And now the black hole has killed off the Grand Old Party.

Fortunately, there’s no time to mourn,  2014 looms.   

The GOP is dead. Long live the GOP – the new one to come. 

  1. EThompson

    More tragically, the traditional GOP constituency no longer exists in this country. The demographics are changing at a furious pace; nobody is interested in cutting taxes or spending. The liberals have been successful at controlling and directing the narrative for decades and are now reaping the fruits of their labor. A candidate of Romney’s fiscal acumen should have won in a landslide.

    As a Republican and native-born Michigander, I’m uncertain if we even have the support of Governor Rick Snyder: Koch Brothers – Investors.com

  2. MichaelC19fan

    Tell me why the deal that went through was worse than the alternative which was going over the “cliff”? The GOP would of been hammered and gotten the blame when people noticed their paychecks shrank. The House GOP threw away their negotiating power when they would not go for “Plan B”. 

  3. Nathaniel Wright

    “The Republican Party is dead.”  Really?  The work that you point out regarding the work in the States seems to point that the party as a whole is fine. 

    The problems in Washington are a result of a lack of accountability on the local level and a lack of turnout by the ABR (anybody but Romney) crowd.  If more Rs had turned out at the election, the results would have been quite different.  Even with lower R turnout, Romney was able to win ground in most age cohorts and even among young voters. 

    If we want change and more aggressively Free Market representatives, it starts with us.  We need to turnout, we need to run for office, and we need to be willing to forsake the Perfect in order to advance the Good.

  4. EThompson
    Nathaniel Wright: If more Rs had turned out at the election, the results would have been quite different. 

    I agree with everything you wrote, but the reality is that the true “Rs” didn’t turn out. Perhaps, they no longer exist?

  5. Lance Robinson

    What are you going to replace it with? A party, or multiple parties, that reliably gets 13-17% of the vote but is ideologically oh so pure? A bigger problem is the perfect being the enemy of the good enough. Too many conservative leaning voters opt to pass on voting or to throw their vote away for some splinter party because the Republican party can’t field their own personal perfect candidate. In so many ways, this past election is a great example of the corruption of the electorate, both left and right.

  6. Donald Todd
    EThompson

    Nathaniel Wright: If more Rs had turned out at the election, the results would have been quite different. 

    I agree with everything you wrote, but the reality is that the true “Rs” didn’t turn out. Perhaps, they no longer exist? · 1 minute ago

    Actually it was some of the conservatives who did not show up at the vote.  Since I am a conservative, and I did show up and vote, I am not one of the some.  

    It has been noted here at Ricochet that a lot of conservatives have the impression that the Republicans want their votes and their silence.  No moral conservancy ever.  Scarce limitations on fiscal conservancy, or no house district / state goes unrewarded.

    So for the second straight presidential election the Republican Party nominated a man unrecognizable as a “conservative.”  You went from the maverick to the man of movable positions, depending on his audience.  How’s that working for the Republican Party?  Losing its natural constituency and losing elections.  Perhaps you see a trend?

    Circular firing squads don’t work very well.  Getting rid of those who should be on your side is not a good idea.

  7. Keith Preston

    The problem isn’t the candidate so much as it is the electorate.  I know…I have their children in my classrooms.  I’m doing the best I can, but I know what will happen to them in college when they join the Obama Youth.

    I fear that the only thing that will change things is the coming fiscal apocalypse.

    “Fasten your seat belts, it’s going to be a bumpy ride.”

  8. Donald Todd
    Nathaniel Wright: “The Republican Party is dead.”  Really?  The work that you point out regarding the work in the States seems to point that the party as a whole is fine. 

    The problems in Washington are a result of a lack of accountability on the local level and a lack of turnout by the ABR (anybody but Romney) crowd.  If more Rs had turned out at the election, the results would have been quite different.  Even with lower R turnout, Romney was able to win ground in most age cohorts and even among young voters. 

    If we want change and more aggressively Free Market representatives, it starts with us.  We need to turnout, we need to run for office, and we need to be willing to forsake the Perfect in order to advance the Good. · 14 minutes ago

    There are those of us who are finding that being held in contempt is not good politics.  We have found the definition of “Good” and we are outside the pale on that one.  Perhaps a new definition of “Good” is in order.  Perhaps a party making a real attempt to find a new definition of “Good” would be welcome.

  9. Daniel Jeyn

    Look at the election results from 1984 and 1964.   Mondale and Goldwater were both thoroughly defeated.  Romney was not trounced.  He was defeated less than thoroughly, but by enough to sting, and the demographic trends are worrisome.  Otherwise, with Congress also well into Republican hands, it seems that this cry of despair is ill-fitting.

    I’d be all for a can of Libertarian/Tea-Party first-principle spinach force fed into the GOP.  But I wouldn’t be so quick to dissolve the coalition that exists now.

  10. Scarlet Pimpernel

    ” The Republican Party as we’ve known it–or more precisely as we’ve all imagined it to be–the party of lower taxes, smaller government, and bastion of free enterprise, is dead.”

    Obama and the GOP actually saved the bulk of the Bush tax cuts.

    But lower taxes were a means, and not an end. They became a proxy for smaller government and free enterprise.  The trouble is, it ceased to be one a while ago.  Remember Tom Delay’s comment that there was nothing left to cut?  George W. Bush gave us John D. Rockefeller Republicanism–the old man’s religion plus Nelson’s view of government.

    In other words, there is no reason why failing to hold the line of taxes in this particular case, will cut against the GOP as a party of limited constitutional government.   It can still be the party of free labor, free soil, and free men, even if some taxes go up, some of the time.

    The tea party is about limited, constitutional government.  That’s where to begin.

    Honest men pay their bills.  We must move in the direction of limited government. We cannot, on these principles, repudiate our debts.

  11. EThompson
    Donald Todd

    EThompson

    Nathaniel Wright: If more Rs had turned out at the election, the results would have been quite different. 

    I agree with everything you wrote, but the reality is that the true “Rs” didn’t turn out. Perhaps, they no longer exist? · 1 minute ago

    Actually it was some of the conservatives who did not show up at the vote.

    Conservatives (I assume you mean social) have to realize that none of their core issues will be resolved if the Democratic party is allowed to usurp our most powerful weapon- our fiscal influence.

  12. Leigh

    Of course, it’s in President Obama’s favor to make the case that the Republicans voted to raise taxes.  It’s strange to hear conservatives buying in to his argument, because of course they did nothing of the sort.  Taxes were already up before they even voted on the deal in the House.

    Only in Washington do you argue that a vote to stop automatic tax increases hitting most of your constituents is a vote to raise taxes.

    And only in Washington does one count in the way you have to in order to get that 41 dollars in taxes for every dollar of cuts:

    You can’t generate those numbers by using any consistent method of counting. You get it by including every dollar of scheduled tax increases the deal allows to go forward and excluding every dollar of the sequester the deal allows to go forward. 

    There were two alternatives, and the Republicans who voted for the deal voted for the option that would keep overall taxes lower, and spare their constituents as much of the increase as possible.  Only in Washington could that be portrayed as a betrayal of principle.

  13. Archie Campbell

    I dunno-wasn’t this all just a stop-gap two months’ worth of deal?  It might’ve been more important just to get this deal done and have more room to maneuver then.  And it would’ve been great to take a stand, except that we had no leverage.  Intransigence in this case, however justified, I think would’ve just made Republicans the Piñata Of Blame for the Obama Administration.

  14. Leigh
    Lance Robinson: What are you going to replace it with? A party, or multiple parties, that reliably gets 13-17% of the vote but is ideologically oh so pure?

    Unless the new third party managed to get some people actually into office.  At which time we’d discover that third-party politicians are politicians too.

    The rest of your point is solid, too.  We have the centre-right coalition that we have: there are only so many people opposed to the Obama agenda.

  15. Nathaniel Wright

    I also want to point out that one of the weaknesses of the current GOP is that it lacks a true Grassroots effort.  In Southern California, the GOP doesn’t go into the Hispanic and APIA communities to recruit.  And I mean recruit, not pander.  It isn’t pandering to present your undiluted ideas to new constituencies, it’s just smart.

    The GOP also doesn’t do enough to engage with young voters.  Yes, things like the YAF are great at taking already conservative youth and turning them into activists, but they do little to persuade and recruit the new ally.

    I think this is the GOP’s greatest failing, especially in Blue States and purple states.  What is the GOP doing to recruit in Nevada?  They are so busy with circular firing squads that they aren’t going out and pitching their brand.  They aren’t microtargeting new members.

    It’s quite tragic.  By this time in 2005, Obama already had voters creating a grassroots recruitment movement building his Presidential Election machine.

    Where are our tech savvy young professionals? 

  16. Joseph Eagar

    Arthur, please, cut the crap.  Everyone’s taxes were slated to increase, and when you consider that Obama needs middle-class tax revenue to sustain his entitlement state, and likely only made a deal at all because he feared a recession, we truly had no leverage.  If Boehner’s Plan B had passed. . .but it didn’t. 

    Republicans aren’t going to let everyone’s taxes go up simply to stay on message and maintain the brand.  Voters are more than astute enough to sniff out such a shocking level of cynicism, even the “low-information” ones we all sneer at.

  17. Fricosis Guy

    First, made a small edit…can’t give credit to BHO.  Welcome to the first term of the Biden administration.

    @Scarlet is right on.  Making the Bush tax cuts temporary was a fiscal and political gimmick that backfired.  IMO, making rates permanent will make the spending choices clearer.  They’ve been blurred by the constant tax cut extension vs. stimulus spending horsetrading.

    Even worse, we persist believing that only now there’s been a vote for tax hikes.  The pols who voted for the 2001 or 2003 Bush tax cuts voted for taxes to go back up again to the Clinton rates 31 December 2010.  The bill never would have made it through the Senate without that express provision.

    Scarlet Pimpernel:  [Biden] and the GOP actually saved the bulk of the Bush tax cuts.

    But lower taxes were a means, and not an end. They became a proxy for smaller government and free enterprise.  The trouble is, it ceased to be one a while ago.  Remember Tom Delay’s comment that there was nothing left to cut?

  18. Arthur Herman
    C
    Joseph Eagar: Arthur, please, cut the crap.  Everyone’s taxes were slated to increase, and when you consider that Obama needs middle-class tax revenue to sustain his entitlement state, and likely only made a deal at all because he feared a recession, we truly had no leverage.  If Boehner’s Plan B had passed. . .but it didn’t. 

    Edited 2 hours ago

    Please.  A legislative proposal isn’t leadership! That’s Washington think: when the truth is voters go to sleep at the mention of one–including your low information ones.

    Leadership would be saying, this president is incapable of negotiating in good faith, he intends us all to go over the cliff, and so we walk away.  People invoke Ronald Reagan’s name so often!  But we don’t need the Ronald  Reagan who schmoozed with Tip O’Neill; there aren’t any Tip O’Neills. We need the one who walked away at Reykjavik, who called the Soviet Union an evil empire and plotted its downfall even as he went through the motions of arms control negotations.   

    Because that’s the kind of opponent we face.

  19. Joseph Eagar
    Arthur Herman

    Please.  A legislative proposal isn’t leadership! That’s Washington think: when the truth is voters go to sleep at the mention of one–including your low information ones.

    Leadership would be saying, this president is incapable of negotiating in good faith, he intends us all to go over the cliff, and so we walk away. 

    Really?  The Democrats have much more to gain from going off the fiscal cliff than we do, yet here you are, arguing we should have plunged off of it.  Yes, let’s give the left middle-class tax hikes, so they can sustain the welfare state!  We should make this the new conservative litmus test: let’s start a pledge, whereby conservative politicians all swear to give the left every policy victory they secretly want, but are too scared of the political consequences to reach for.  We can rename the GOP to the TCFWS, Tax Collectors For the Welfare State party.

  20. Arthur Herman
    C
    Leigh

    There are only so many people opposed to the Obama agenda. · 3 hours ago

    Really?  Think how many opposed ObamaCare from the beginning, how many say in Gallop polls the federal government doesn’t have the answer to our problems (sadly, the 19 to 35 year olds are the one cohort who hold out on that question), and how many still voted for Mitt Romney in ’12–even when the campaign turned their back on them. 

    What’s extraordinary and ironic is how close Romney actually came: and how many finally rallied to an uncertain cause.   

    That’s my point!  The failure isn’t at the grass roots, it’s at the top.  And it can and must be fixed–or the Obama legacy stretches beyond 2016 to a dark chasm far beyond. 

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