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The Party Is Over

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Message David Michael Green
Poor Troy Senik.

He's a Republican, so everyone knows he’s stupid.

He used to write speeches for George Bush and Newt Gingrich, so everyone avoids him at social gatherings.

And now all his clients are getting handed their pink slips, so he’s gonna have to start earning his living the honest way for once.

But that’s not even the worst part of it.

The worst part is that just he published a piece entitled “Republicans Agonistes”, which ended with this paragraph: “The time for the Republican Party's existential crisis is coming to a close. Now is the hour for a new generation of innovative, optimistic, and principled leaders to see this moment for what it is – an opportunity to renew a proud movement and lead it towards future victories.”

Then, the very next day, Arlen Specter showed us precisely where the party’s existential crisis really is at, after all. (Hint: It’s not exactly “coming to a close”.)

Indeed, not only is this meltdown not ending now, it is only just beginning. But I will give Senik credit for one thing. He has correctly labeled this as an existential crisis. He’s right about that. This is no garden variety rough patch in the road. This could well spell the end of an institution in American politics that has been around since Lincoln, and this country’s national party structure of the same vintage.

Mockingly, Senik opens his essay with a wee taste of right-wing sarcasm: “The Republican Party is dead. Haven't you heard? Despite winning seven of the past 11 presidential elections and controlling at least one house of Congress for 13 of the past 15 years, our salad days are over. The ascendancy of Nancy Pelosi, Harry Reid, and Barack Obama has shipwrecked the GOP in perpetuity. Those of us who fought the good fight will now have to go back to country clubbing, Bible thumping, and war mongering in the private sector. To add insult to injury, we're the only major institution that has failed in the last year without receiving a generous taxpayer bailout.”

Heh-heh. Those regressive cats sure are good at comedy, eh? Now if only they could do it on purpose, maybe they’d be getting somewhere with their show business careers.

Senik goes from there to chronicle all the previous near-death experiences of the Party – 1964, 1974, etc. – that turned out to be greatly exaggerated reports of the GOP’s demise. The point being, of course, that this kind of thing happens all the time. He therefore argues that, “The question for Republicans, then, is not if they can come back, but rather when and how.”

That’s actually quite wrong, though. The real question for Republicans is, instead, whether they will survive as a rump regional party of maniacal Troglodytes, or not at all.

Everything is going against the Party right now, ranging from demographic shifts to leadership vacuums to loss of control of every institution of American government to the massive popularity of the new president from the other party. But these are small potatoes compared to the two real problems that are rapidly dragging the party toward the precipice of oblivion.

The first monstrous problem for the GOP is that they’re so good at winning elections. Or at least they were. They’d have been great if only they hadn’t actually governed. Had they just stayed over there in the weeds, carping incessantly about taxes, weakness abroad, taxes, homos, taxes, spending and – did I mention taxes? – they could have gone on forever getting enough votes to continue on as America’s Perpetual Pain in the Ass Party. Unfortunately, though, they made the mistake of actually winning. They got so good at sliming their opponents and stealing elections and employing fear to get votes that, the next thing you knew, they were actually in charge.

Big, big mistake. Americans have seen what Republican government looks like. It’s seriously ugly, and that’s even when it doesn’t produce a crisis. All the more so when it does produce one, and far more yet when it’s six or seven, simultaneously.

I know, I know, it’s weird. But, just the same, Americans just don’t seem to want economies plummeting, debts exploding, cities attacked by terrorists, other cities drowning, endless wars based on lies, cronyism, nepotism, looting, environmental disasters, alienated allies, wrecked national reputations, or snarling vice presidents on their television sets. Nor do they want congressional legislation, enacted by a president flying across the country to sign the bill, that tells Americans how to handle their individual family medical tragedies. Like I said, it’s weird. I guess Americans are just quirky that way.

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David Michael Green is a professor of political science at Hofstra University in New York.  He is delighted to receive readers' reactions to his articles (, but regrets that time constraints do not always allow him to respond. His website is (more...)
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