Via Norm Leahy I see that Richmond’s Style Weekly has a feature story entitled “Fight for the Right: Why Virginia’s Republican Party is on the verge of a meltdown.” Authors Jason Roop and Scott Bass don’t offer any information that will come as news to the sort of people who read Virginia political blogs (that is, you), but this is the sort of lengthy analysis that doesn’t appear much in the Virginia press. There aren’t many media outlets willing to devote the column inches to it.
What strikes me as particularly bizarre is that the division in the RPV is so wide and so bitter, yet so many Republicans continue to loudly insist that there is no division in the party. It’s the pair of elephants in the living room that they won’t acknowledge. They’re not fooling anybody else, of course.
The budget dispute right now isn’t a Republican/Democratic dispute. It’s Republicans vs. Republicans, the grown-ups versus the kids. The more that Republicans in the House dig in their heels, the more that they prove to Virginians that they’re not fit to lead. It doesn’t matter if they’re right or wrong about funding transportation, the narrative has been written: Their opposition is bull-headed idealism, they’re the party of “no,” they’re more interested in brochure bills than offering any real leadership to Virginia.
Virginia is a conservative state, not a radical state. On the seven-point ideological scale, it’s probably about a 5 — just barely right of center. Statewide, on average, whoever is closer to 5 wins. On that scale House Republicans are about an eight at this point. Virginia Democrats rank around 3 or 4. So Virginia Democrats win while Virginia Republicans lose.
Republicans need to prepare to fall out of power in the next few years. If they ever want to be in the majority again, they’ll need to purge themselves of the radicals who have taken the reins and start acting responsibly. If they straighten up, they could be back in control by the early ’10s. If they don’t — and I can’t see that they will — they’ll have to wait until Democrats start to get power-hungry and stupid. The good news for Republicans is that I don’t think it’ll take us long.