Is the Republican party in trouble?

Peter Beinart's column today in the Washington Post makes a very interesting argument that the Republican party is coming apart at the seams because the populism that held it together can no longer do so as the populism has turned from attacking government elites to corporate elites (which, of course, provide the major funding for the Republican party).  I'm not sure just how much trouble the Republican party is in, but what I most enjoyed about the column was Beinart's historical analysis.  You therefore get by favorite parts:

Since World War II, perhaps the Republican Party's greatest political
achievement has been to marry conservatism — once considered a
patrician creed — with anti-elitism. The synthesis began with Joseph
McCarthy, who used conspiratorial anti-communism to attack America's East Coast, Ivy League-dominated foreign policy class. It grew under Richard Nixon, who exploited white working-class resentment against campus radicals and the black militants they indulged. It deepened under Ronald Reagan, who made government bureaucrats a focus of populist fury…

And in 1992 and 1996, Pat Buchanan took right-wing populism in a
subversive new direction, replacing hostility toward the government
elite with hostility toward the corporate elite. In 2000, John McCain
launched a crusade against K Street, the financial bedrock of the GOP,
and came within inches of claiming the Republican nomination. All of a
sudden populism was no longer conservatism's weapon against the
American left but a dagger facing inward, threatening the GOP itself…

Conservative populism is not dead. But with the war on terrorism no
longer rallying the right-wing base, that base is turning — as it did
in the 1990s — against corporations. The first sign came in February
2006, when the Bush administration provoked a populist hailstorm by
supporting a Dubai
company's plans to manage six U.S. ports. The political backlash —
stoked not merely by Democrats but also by conservative commentators
such as Sean Hannity — combined distrust of foreigners and corporate
elites. And in this way, it presaged the current, much bigger,
conservative revolt on immigration. In the past two years, with Iraq
going south, immigration has become the hottest issue among
conservative activists. But unlike terrorism, it is a doubled-edged
sword, wielded against pro-immigration Democrats but also against the
pro-immigration corporate right, which largely funds the GOP.

I'd like to hope that Beinart's doomsaying about the GOP is right, but I'm not holding my breath.  It was not all that long ago that The Emerging Democratic Majority was all the talk of political circles. 

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