Friday, January 25, 2013

Where does the GOP go from here?

I took my shots at Lexington earlier this week for his post-inaugural column, but there's much to like about his post-post-inaugural column. He tries to figure out what the GOP can do now, after the President laid down a progressive gauntlet. Certainly it's a speech that rubbed some the wrong way, but what to do when you control, in the words of John Boehner, "one-half of one-third of the federal government?" Lexington strikes an even more pessimistic view than that:
In his speech Mr Obama painted conservatives as akin to a primitive tribe—intensely united around such totems as climate-change denial or hostility to gay rights, rigid in their belief that government safety nets trap citizens in dependency, and generally prone to mistake “absolutism for principle”. In contrast, Mr Obama used the inauguration to thank and reassure the loose coalition that returned him to power in November. In a cascade of lyrical stanzas he pledged his second term, in turn, to those who depend on public health care and pensions, to those weary of war, to women seeking equal pay, to gays seeking equal rights, to minorities angry about legal hurdles that seemingly exclude them from voting, and to immigrants wanting new lives in America. The president ended with a call for citizens to demand that politicians address that progressive agenda.
I think this is an excellent break down of how Obama cast his erstwhile Congressional opponents. To go back to a line I used earlier this week, what part of that vision do you disagree with? I think Obama found himself supporting issue after issue that, broadly, enjoys majority support by the American people. Surely elements of implementation will cause division,but the overall goal is supported.

Lexington goes on to note how the current incarnation of the GOP is more tribal and virulent, but that's not of much use when its traditional voter blocs are, "in relative or absolute decline, whether white voters, rural Americans or social conservatives.

That fervency gives strength to the GOP, but it can also be the millstone.  Lexington points to people like Rep. Paul Ryan who want to get wonky and produce legislation in the house that shows Republicans have serious ideas and lauds there approach. Still he warns:
Parties evolve... And conservative unity is surely better than squabbling. But in democratic politics it is usually better to be a coalition, pragmatically organised around interests, than a tribe, sternly loyal to a creed. For today’s Republicans, intensity is a trap as well as a strength.
And so far that trap has meant lost elections. 


  1. And so far that trap has meant lost elections.

    Yes, plainly that intensity really cost them in 2010...

  2. Yeah, Kennedy, what are you talking about? Didn't you hear VP Ryan's rousing address on Monday? Oh wait . . . .

  3. Perhaps Ben could expand on his implied theory that intensity cost Republicans in 2012?