Has the Republican Brand Hit Bottom Yet?

Is there a more compelling image for aggrieved martyrs than blood-thirsty Romans prodding wild animals to rip apart early Christians? Well, mass entertainment, certainly Christianity, has come a long way, baby. Which makes it all the more laughable that Republicans, playing the aggrieved victim card under Obama the oppressor, distort they are anything but selfless martyrs. In truth, the right commits the very blatant howlers that savage its own brand. Who else can extremists blame for misreading religion, science, politics, philosophy, history and sacred books?

That’s why so few key constituencies, except wheeler-dealer billionaires, escape today’s GOP quest to enthrone the insufferable status quo. By shunning women’s rights, the long-term jobless, a lost generation of youngsters, immigrants desperate for clarity, or the dying poor locked out from Obamacare-Medicaid, the party of Lincoln casts off any pretense to serving the common good, let alone any majority. Late last year, Gallup measured Republican favorability plummeting to 28%, down from 38% two months earlier, the lowest party rating ever measured since they started such counting in 1992. In January, Gallup reported only 25% of Americans call themselves Republican, down 9% since Dubya’s second ’04 victory.  Across America, only 17% endorse current GOP lawmakers while 74% disapprove, the worst ranking ever in Quinnipiac’s polling.

“Productivity” for this perverse gang means compounding obstructionism with transparent lying, faux scandals, and calculated nonsense that staggers the reality-based community. Imagine if Rand Paul is right, that were his party to persist in offending minorities, Texas “will be a Democratic state within 10 years.” It’s not as if the three right wing factions (crony capitalists, evangelicals and Tea Partiers) aren’t already fighting over diminished political spoils.

Clearly, the R.N.C. squandered its best efforts last year, crowning the 2012 debacle with its now year-old “autopsy.” That analysis insisted smarter leaders campaign and govern “in a manner that is inclusive and appealing” and “point the way forward, working successfully with their legislatures to enact meaningful changes in people’s lives.” Bingo! Oblivious GOP governors are worse off than the bedraggled president. Does the path to party salvation track loathing Obama and health care changes, “big” government, public education and legal debts, all  while fulminating against women, jobs training, immigration reform, and gay marriage?

What national party ever redeemed itself with unending, indelible wars against voters: the unemployed, unions, state employees, poor, working and middle classes, scientists and medical researchers, women and minorities, even defenders of legal birth control and abortion? Like God, this posse of the pious figures to create a miracle out of nothingness.

Suicide Isn’t Painless

Yet the real kicker remains how self-inflicted are right wing wounds, rushing from one self-induced cliff to another. Can power brokers forever blame this wary White House or today’s Democrats for dismal disapproval numbers? No outside Black Swan struck, though the worst party bullies are taking up the brand-smashing cudgel. No national emergency or party-wide scandal, overseas disruption or act of God, has singly mortified the right. In fact, Democrats look downright rational by talking up plausible ideas (jobs stimulus, less sequester, what, immigration reform?) without risking much by confronting crude obstructionism. As reactionaries crash and burn on policy and in polling, beyond racists or goofballs like Mike Huckabee, why not play it safe by avoiding monumental blunders? Why not watch as one Michigan Republican goes beyond opposition to gay rights, calling for deviants to be purged from the party, as pawns of Satan’s agenda for gayness solely for pedophilia? Yep, what a big tent they have as gushing wing nuts compete with Todd Akin and Richard Mourdock.

In this light, let us acknowledge widespread skepticism any party dreaming of the White House could survive more rounds of the absurd, unending GOP 2012 primary circus.  Remember when unqualified yokels changed the frontrunner spot every two weeks. Not so, as that parade of clownish yahoos, Cain and Bachmann to Santorum and Perry, simply morphed into slicker models called Ron Paul, Ted Cruz or Marco Rubio, a tad more qualified yet unlikely nominees or presidential winners. And still ahead are Tea Party primary dogfights sure to exact more party damage than the farcical primary that bloodied the eventual, electable prospect (yes, Romney). In fact, TP House solidity appears stronger than ever, so what’s to stop more Sharron Angles or Delaware witches from rising from the depths?

Destiny of Demographics

Yes, I know Republicans hold more state houses than Democrats and boast more fresh-faced governors and Senators. Dems could lose the Senate but I doubt it. The left still struggles for one noble Democrat, just to keep things honest, to test the looming Hilary. Nor will the 2016 Democratic nominee conquer many red states Romney took, except N.C. A charismatic Republican winning most battleground states will prosper, but which dull governor fits this bill? Without immigration reform, what figure likely acceptable to the TP could take Nevada, Colorado, or Florida, let alone New Mexico, New Jersey or Pennsylvania? I claim serious damage done to the GOP brand since 2012, without perceptible offsets that gain new converts. Shrill House obstinacy that panders to the hardcore (old, white, male) right only pushes more independents to Democrats, if only in horror.

This dubious experiment in extremism outlives its shelf-life, dedicated to offending as many unaffiliated voters as possible, less with grievously unpopular actions than bullying, tantrums and gridlock. The GOP isn’t “conservative” (preserving the best of the past), but now deranged against any change, missing what Remy the heroic rat in Ratatouille declares, “change is nature.” Thus attrition plagues the right wing army and nitwit generals stand around paralyzed with fear or shock and awe. Capturing this void, the face John Boehner wears at press encounters, as he backpedals furiously from his promises a week old, a party deer frozen in TP headlights.

Negativity Breeds Negativity

The game is up, controversy kaput: driving millions of Hispanic, Asian, gay and minority audiences towards Democrats is ultimate electoral suicide, no matter how many Koch billions are consumed. This shift smacks of a New Deal-style generational move. Bad enough its worst bullies, like crumbling Christie, nosedive into irrelevance, a consummation devoutly to be wished. Consider how many more will bolt the party, like former Nevada Lt. Gov. Sue Wagner (now independent), blaming hardline TP extremism. Per one witty Huff Post blogger, since the last election right wing “outreach is looking more like outshove.”

We are in the throes of an epic, generation-changing mayhem, both to Republicanism and supporters. Since 2010 I have questioned whether the center can hold another decade. Subsequent, self-inflicted disasters (say, blocking immigration reform) reinforces my projection. No hidebound naysayers will regain relevance by shunning would-be voters while standing against government, budget and debt sanity, public education, social safety nets, women’s, gay and minority rights, decriminalizing marijuana, birth control and abortion, science, evolution and climate control, indeed, the modern era itself.

Other than pushing overseas belligerence, a bizarre wall for border defense, taxes as theft, and corporate subsidies, not one headlined GOP idea, proposal or message today satisfies the RNC “autopsy”, as “inclusive and appealing” while serving to “enact meaningful changes in people’s lives.” Soon enough, the delusional Tea Party will decide it must destroy the establishment to save America. Be my guest: the ship is sinking fast and zealots rush to grab shovels to bail out the hull. That way lies dissolution and disruption and change.  Behold the wonder!

Robert S. Becker was educated at Rutgers College (BA) and UC Berkeley (Ph.D, English). He left university teaching (Northwestern, U. Chicago) for business, founding and heading SOTA Industries, high end audio company from '80 to '92. "Writing for the public taught me how to communicate." From '92-02 he did marketing consulting, grant, and business writing. Since '02, he scribbles on politics, science and culture, looking for the wit in the shadows. Read other articles by Robert.