GOP Postmortem and Prognosis For Senile American DemocracySubmitted by Molusk on Mon, 09/30/2013 - 15:48
As the Republicans ease into being a party that can't win national elections for demographic and economic reasons, where is American politics heading?
As a minority party lacking national election prospects, the incentives for adhering to a moderate political center will disappear. The goal of maintaining half of the electorate will no longer be realistic. When that incentive is absent it makes the party much more real ideologically, more true to its hardcore constituency, but also much less practical.
All of these good effects only have value if the party is radicalized in the right direction. It could just as easily become an ethnic advocacy or hardcore religious party, once it accepts permanent minority status and is no longer viable in presidential elections or congressional dominance.
Whatever the case, it is difficult to see a coherent coalition of interests large enough to sustain the Republican party on the national level.
Aside from its direction, this ideological hardening only has value if it leads to the party staking out a position that allows it to challenge federal authority in such a way that it can either force it to back down, or win the ensuing legal or extralegal conflict if it does not. Whether the House withholds funding from the federal government at some point, or some kind of secessionism arises, it only has value if it can succeed.
That can't happen without extensive, horizontal infiltration and capture of other institutions, which would enable a minority party or political faction to win a such a showdown. Or alternatively, an incredible weakening of the ability of the state apparatus to operate or of the will of the ruling class to rule. Both are possible but not evident yet.
Another danger in the GOP becoming the minority party is the move toward sub-politics, or "inside politics," where the whole purpose of party activity is to win primaries and win stronghold districts, Senate seats that are still locked in, and milk those remaining positions.
As their power wanes, they might just become showpieces and fake opposition, maintained and funded by the state apparatus as it moves comfortably toward one partydom. Shills will do good work here. What is worse than McCain and Graham, who pander to the media, lobbies, etc., because they only want power? Shills who play the opposition part with no expectation of ever winning, just to milk their constituents.
What will happen to the Democrats once they attain dominant party status?
Once they no longer need to win a tight election every four years, or fight tooth and nail to win the House, interesting dynamics occur. For one thing, they can in-fight more, and more often, when they have a comfortable margin. Groups can split off and still allow Democratic predominance.
More ideological flexibility will emerge in the dominant party. The other institutions of power, like media and corporate lobbies, will lose influence in a world where the two party game is less tightly strung, where media influence or corporate money can no longer turn the election on a dime.
These power institutions will want to keep the even party split, and moderate Republicans like McCain will try to move the party to the left, away from the base, to keep their half. But factors beyond the control of the elites and the beltway republicans have been set in motion.
Immigration, demographics, and economics are pushing the country away from Right-libertarianism, classical liberalism, cultural traditionalism, etc. Like it or not. And these factors are not on the tight leash the governing class might wish. They're ideologically embedded in our political culture, and difficult to impossible to reverse.
For these reasons, the Democrats will have much more leeway to act independently of peripheral institutions, including congress as a whole, the Fed, the corporatocracy. This strengthens the government against the private sector elites, and the executive against the other power centers of government.
It will become increasingly difficult for the string pullers to raise the GOP from the dead, as it trends toward 40% or 35% inevitably in the coming few decades. The ethnic and age demographics, the ideological shifts owing from public education and declining faith, the changing economic realities of globalization, wage arbitrage and the declining middle class, will lead to a developing-world style of politics.
The new internet intelligentsia of unaligned, independently thinking and independently evaluating participants is a factor I won't go into much. It is the only positive on the radar, and the only thing balancing the loss of the old civil society of institutions like churches, fraternal orders, labor and professional organizations, local community bodies, which provided cohesiveness and identity at a sub-state level.
But it is a poor substitute for organizing action, as much as it is an excellent substitute for ascertaining political reality.
Congress is becoming less and less relevant. The procedures, constitutional processes, the legal technicalities which limit the state, are going to become awfully unwieldy in the future I would anticipate.
When there is no cultural, ethnic, religious or other center of gravity and stability; no ideological consensus, no dominant middle class, greater and greater dependency on government, denser population growth and diminishing resources -- constitutional republican government will become an increasingly tenuous way of managing this formless morass.
Capital flight, inflation, the brain drain, are are looming. Diminishing social capital and vanishing cultural bonds will handicap the ability of people to endure hardship and work together to solve problems.
This stew of division will require a hard boiled executive administrative apparatus to make things happen, and this will then open the pandora's box of even more terrible mismanagement and horrible ad hoc policy, ignoring market signals, private interests, local bodies, and constitutional protections.
We're already well on the way down this road. The long road toward making republican, representative institutions merely titular and forma; but really, de facto obsolete, before sweeping them aside entirely.
There will also be the positive effect of sweeping away lots of inefficiency and absurdity inherent in our ridiculous democratic, bureaucratic rule by gameshow elections, and the no-one-in-charge or accountable for anything once in power-structure. Where those in power are just self serving criminals and skilled liars serving the short term interests of lawyers and lobbyists in order to game the system and line their own pockets.
Maybe a real American empire is in the cards, with one party executive Caesarism or commintern Sovietism. Not the empire we rail against, merely overseas, but actual imperial government when the exhausted domestic power bases that balance our political system weaken before these trends, and ultimately yield to authority as an alternative to chaos.
That I think is the likely future.
You can fight it only by reversing these trends, displacing and supplanting the elite ideology that occupies all the institutions of power which Washington ultimately rests on. But that effort is gargantuan and needed to start a long time ago. It hasn't even begun. The consequences of present conditions are baked in and will play out.
The only realistic thing is to prepare, decide where you will stand your ground and fight, and try to build toward a point where you can establish and defend a perimeter and make it not worth the enemy's effort to cross it. I don't know where that is and what it looks like, but it will require something deeper, more fundamental, more visceral, and more catalyzing than dead political abstractions no one will fight for.