What’s next for the Republican Party after last night’s many defeats?

Barack Obama reelected by an overwhelming electoral vote. Both Mitt Romney and Paul Ryan lost their home states. All the rah-rah-rape U.S. Senate Republicans defeated. George Allen defeated by Tim Kaine. Scott Brown defeated by Elizabeth Warren. Tommy Thompson defeated by Tammy Baldwin, the first openly gay member of the U.S. Senate. Gay marriage approved in two, maybe three states. Recreational marijuana approved in two states. All of this forecast precisely in polling, polling that Republicans overwhelmingly rejected the very science of, utterly convinced that, mystically, Romney would win. The nation took a big step to the left, and everybody but the Republican Party saw it coming months ago.

Where does the Republican Party go from here? If past is prologue, it goes farther still to the right, finding yet more sciences to reject, new bogeymen on whom to blame their woes, new RINOs to eject from the party in ritual purification.

But if the grown-ups can step in, perhaps the Republican Party has a different future. They’ve got to tamp down the strong anti-intellectual strain in the party that makes it the welcoming home of Donald Trump, Rick Perry, Michele Bachmann, and Sarah Palin. Drop the battle against science and facts. Drop the fight against the demographic tide and stop opposing gay marriage and Latinos. And drop the no-taxes-ever schtick—often the opposite of fiscal conservatism—in favor of the economic conservatism that the Republican Party espoused for a century.

Equally important, Republicans in Congress need to stop putting their ideological opposition to some of the president’s policies before the good of the nation. Taking the nation to the brink of bankruptcy to make a muddled point, Mitch McConnell’s famed “single most important thing we want to achieve is for President Obama to be a one-term president” remark, opposing every little thing just for the sake of opposing it. This is why Congress has a 10% approval rating, which ranks below support for the U.S. becoming a communist nation. They’ve got to start leading instead of opposing.

The country has changed. So has the Republican Party. But the two are moving in opposite directions. This nation needs a second party to participate in the political process. We’re facing some big problems right now, and we need two parties working towards solving them, rather than one working towards solutions while the other works towards undermining those solutions. I hope last night’s defeat will help the Republican Party become that party.

25 thoughts on “What’s next for the Republican Party after last night’s many defeats?”

  1. Actually, we don’t need the Republican party at all any more if we could simply remove the artificial and undemocratic incentives keeping this country a winner-takes-all two-party system. Proportional representation, rank-order voting, non-partisan debates (instead of bi-partisan ones), and the same petition rules for all candidates regardless of party affiliation would all help make it possible for 3rd and 4th parties to have a chance at some minority representation, and they’d stop handing the false sense of an evenly divided electorate to the Republicans.

  2. Thank you for this thoughtful post. I had many of the same things rolling around in my head last night. I hope that the GOP can see that their foray into cultish social fundamentalism isn’t working. When members of that party denigrate women, are mystified and disbelieving of basic biology, and aren’t immediately censured by their most visible candidate, that’s a big, big mistake. When their presidential candidate treats working mothers like some novel freak show when in fact MOST mothers work, that’s a big mistake as well. When they pay lip service to smaller government and throw resources at constitutional amendments banning gay marriage, and laws restricting birth control, another big mistake.

    I am hopeful that the GOP can stop being a cult and start being representative of the people they serve. My challenge to the Republican party is to get my vote in 2016.

  3. Actually, we don’t need the Republican party at all any more if we could simply remove the artificial and undemocratic incentives keeping this country a winner-takes-all two-party system.

    Scott, I would welcome and work hard towards a goal like that. I’m a Democrat, but with a couple more parties, it’s possible I could be a member of one of those! :)

    My challenge to the Republican party is to get my vote in 2016.

    I really like that perspective Ry. That’s a very open and useful way to look at things. If I were born 30 years earlier, I think I would almost certainly be (or, at least, have been) a Republican. That ought to be possible again, I think. Or, at least, I wish.

  4. Honestly, I teeter back and forth between (a) hoping desperately that the GOP can pull out of its suicidal death-dive and (b) saying “double down, guys, you’re *totally* on the right track!” I know that (a) is the right thing to hope for, for the good of the nation and all…

    One thing I’ve noticed among my right-wing friends (not the conservatives, though–there’s a difference) is a loud and proud assertion that they simply can’t fathom (or comprehend, or understand) how someone could prefer Obama over Romney. I hear that from them, and I’m struck–isn’t that a HUGE part of your problem, then? You’re proudly asserting that your ideological bubble is so impregnable that you can’t for one second imagine, in a good-faith sense, the thought processes of someone who thinks differently from you? Isn’t that a *bad* thing? Whenever you’re trying to convince someone who disagrees with you to adopt your viewpoint on something, what works better: screaming at them that their resistance to your superior wisdom is sub-rational and incomprehensible, or beginning by saying “you know, I can understand why a working-poor single mom really appreciated some features of the ACA…” or whatever. We might need to add “inability to see the world through someone else’s eyes” to the list of things the GOP, or really the TEA-OP, as it should now be named, probably needs to address. But I don’t mean to be pushy. If it’s, like, ideologically impure to allow the viewpoint of your opposition to enter your imagination, then by all means don’t do it. Stick with the current thing that’s working out really well for you. I’m sure all those statisticians who say that the older-rural-evangelical-white-male demographic is shrinking are liberal liars like Nate Silver. Dick Morris will surely tell you what you want to hear.

  5. Just reading Draper’s piece reminds me of what has happened with every party not in the White House. Democrats have stood in the way in the past, now Boehner says that it is his turn. It isn’t just opposing thing for the sake of opposing- it is the status quo. I really think it all started when Clinton was in the White House, and was driven in part by the Limbaughs of the world. The only thing that will change it is a leader that is flexible- but that always seems to backfire on the one reaching across to opposition, as Bush Sr. found out.

  6. To be a Republican, you have to embrace crazy self-deception. From their tax-dodging leader calling retirees “takers”, down to their ignorant base who believe the President is illegitimate, and that Mitt cares about them. These poor dupes have been trading Romney Momentum lunacy amongst themselves (and on this forum) for weeks. There isn’t anything that the owners of the Republican Party couldn’t sell their base if they wrap it in enough dark conspiracy. Benghazi! Thank God they insisted we build out all that prison space, we’re going to need it.

  7. Maybe I’ll try and get some time to explain later, but as a conservative (and sometimes Republican), there are a few issues I have with your analysis.

  8. Republicans lost but let’s not pretend it was an overwhelming repudiation of the party- democrats need not to over play their hand if they want these gains to last. The midterms will be punishing for another do nothing congress. Obama has got 18 months to get things done or he will spend his last two years marking time. And yes the republican congress is on notice as well. The Senate, however, is the single worst part of the government and if they can’t get it together we are screwed.

    Seriously it’s a good win for democrats to be sure but the 1% this election was really about were independents. They are a fickle bunch who like Obama today but may not be transferable to the democratic party on a full time basis.

    For the republicans
    1. Republicans better reach out to Hispanics in a real way (immigration reform) or they will keep losing electoral ground.

    2. Republican senators need to be vetted to determine if they are out of the mainstream (batsh*t crazy) on women’s issues. You can be pro life but if you’re unsure on the concept of rape then you need understand that even the reddest of states aren’t putting up with your religious jihad. Please stop wasting everyone time and taking slots from people who might actually have the entire country’s best interest at heart.

    3. There are no second acts in politics- see Allen, Thompson and for you dems Kerry

    4. If you’re going to stay as white as a Jimmy Buffet concert the math doesn’t work. (see 1#) As of today I see little to make me believe republicans have any idea how to solve this.

    I actually like Obama and wish him all the best because he’s going to need it. But to those that think that republicans are defeated and a new era of democrats in permanent control has been ushered in- you’re either very young or completely deluded. Like Dick Morris deluded and it really doesn’t get any worse then that

  9. re: the GOP is not done.

    I think they ARE DONE if they continue to believe that it’s a “messaging” “problem” with minorities – that can be fixed by the “right message”.

    Obama won on a single important basis – they correctly determined what the GOP white turnout would be in the battleground states and targeted their turnout efforts to demographics.

    The white base that the GOP relies on – is getting smaller and America and especially the urban areas are becoming diverse in multiple ways and they do not hew to the GOP’s social agenda – and make no mistake – that social agenda is what damages the GOP in the eyes of many non-white, non-male constituencies.

    The reliance on White Males as a base is doomed.

  10. And yet nearly 50% of the population voted for Romney, shrinking White Males base or not. We still have a shitty FPTP two-party system, we still have superPACs, and we still have a nasty partisan mentality.

    It doesn’t matter what happens to the Republican party — change or replacement. One way or another we’ll end up with a 50/50 split again, and the same partisan bickering will obscure the issues. That’s the real enemy.

  11. Tim, isn’t it more accurate to say that nearly 50% of the people who voted voted for Romney? That’s different from 50% of the population. A fine distinction, perhaps, but this election convinced me that math matters.

  12. re: no matter what happens. Well, I’ve been around through 5 or 6 different Presidents – both GOP and Dem.. and voted for both parties and I’ve never seen it like this and I do remember compromise – often hard fought – but then agreement and forward.

    So I do not believe just because there is Dem and GOP that there is gridlock only as in most past Presidencies, compromise was the norm and not gridlock.

  13. re: ” Who are these Republican grown-ups?”

    fiscally-conservative RINOs who would coalition with blue dog Democrats and who would agree to half-loaf deals rather than nothing and ensuing gridlock.

    Reagan worked with them. So did Bill Clinton. and so did both Bush guys.

    things went bad when the RINOs were outed and replaced by social conservatives with “principles” – i.e. no compromise.

  14. Yup, a 51-49% split in an election is a clear mandate.

    Let’s see what happens with the real issue that was largely ignored through the campaign, the federal deficit.

  15. well no.. not a mandate. A travesty considering Latinos, Blacks and even women are natural family value constituencies with conservative leanings that Romney could not win because of the racist idiots in his party.

    as far as the deficit/debt go – Romney had a totally bogus “revenue-neutral tax reform” and then wanted to add another 2 trillion to the DOD budget.

    so much for fiscal conservatism.

    between his bogus fiscal ideas and the racist right – it’s a miracle he only lost by 54-49… racism still lives on in the US.

  16. Take a look at who’s up for re-election in 2016 and tell me the Democrats don’t have a tremendous advantage.
    Besides every member of the House, the Republicans’ only source of federal power, Senate elections will decide the fate of 24 Republican incumbents and only 10 Democrats. Only two Dems will be campaigning in swing states, Nevada and Colorado where its safe to say, two years out, that things can potentially come down to the wire, Contrast that with Republican incumbents in OH, PA, NC, WI, IA, FL, NH…
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/United_States_Senate_elections,_2016
    John Boehner and Mitch McConnell don’t have the luxury of simply obstructing or they’ll face the very real possibility of losing control of the House and seeing a Dem supermajority back in the Senate.

  17. Please ignore that last comment. Wanted to say something about the 2014 midterms but got sidetracked looking ahead to 2016. In 2014 Dem incumbents in the Senate outnumber Republicans 20-13 and are going to find themselves, potentially, in some very tight races.

  18. so we have the likely GOP roadmap. They will continue to block as they work to win the Senate in 2012 and then do nothing in Congress until the 2016 elections.

    yes. this could go on ….forever…

    ;-(

  19. There was angst that the Repubs hadn’t gotten their message across very well. I think the delivery was fine. It was the content that didn’t go over. Things look worse for the Repubs at any time since ’64…and even that was only a year after an assassination. They are doing terrible with the fastest growing demographics in the nation. Whites are a declining % of the electorate. In addition, the trend is toward more early voting which usually encourages a higher % of poor people to vote. Yes, Obama policy may become unpopular and overrun that trend, but long term looks really bad until the Repub. conventions show more than old white faces.

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