The GOP as failed state

Love this Will Saletan piece.  Nice metaphor:

The disaster, the blame game, and the establishment’s surprise at what’s happening are related. Since President Obama’s election, the GOP has abandoned its role as a national governing party. It has seized Congress not by pursuing an alternative agenda but by campaigning and staging votes against anything Obama says or does. The party’s so-called leaders have become followers, chasing the pet issues of right-wing radio audiences. Now the mob to whom these elders have surrendered—angry white voters who are determined to “take back their country” from immigrants and liberals—is ready to install its own presidential nominee. The Trump-Cruz takeover is the culmination of the Grand Old Party’s moral collapse.  [emphasis mine]

In foreign policy, there’s a term for governments that don’t govern. We call themfailed states. A state can fail for many reasons, but weak or clueless leadership is usually a factor. In a failed state, insurgencies grow, warlords arise, and chaos reigns. That’s what the GOP has become…

Republicans no longer have a policy agenda. They have a scapegoating, base-stoking agenda. Their economic plan is to blame legal immigrants for the demise of upward mobility. Their social policy is to defund the nation’s leading birth-control providerand promote disobedience of court orders. Their foreign policy is to carpet-bombSyria, insult the faith of our anti-ISIS partners, and void Iran’s pledge to abstain from nuclear weapons production…

In the race to the right, yesterday’s conservatives can’t keep up. John Boehner, a right-wing rebel in the House 20 years ago, has been purged as speaker by the GOP’s new hardliners. Kasich, another House rebel from the Boehner era, is now ridiculed in the presidential primaries as a liberal…

When you run a party this way, chasing after your most radical constituents—in Republican parlance, leading from behind—you shouldn’t be surprised to find that the audience you’ve cultivated doesn’t match your original principles…

Good stuff, but one I think should really scare establishment Republicans is this:

Trump is leading almost every national and statewide Republican poll. Together, he and Cruz are drawing the support of 60 percent of Republicans in the latestCNN/ORC poll, 58 percent in the ABC News/Washington Post poll, 54 percent in theFox News poll, and 53 percent in the NBC News/Wall Street Journal poll. In Iowa, Trump and Cruz are splitting 60 percent of likely Republican caucus-goers. In New Hampshire, they control 47 percent of the vote. In South Carolina, they’re drawing 61 percent.

Even if all the establishment candidates pooled their support, they wouldn’t win. Together, Rubio, Bush, Christie, and Kasich are attracting only 18 percent of the Republican vote in the CNN/ORC poll, 22 percent in the ABC/Post poll, and 22 percent in the Fox News poll. The NBC/Journal poll found that even if the Republican field narrowed to Trump, Cruz, and Rubio, Rubio would still finish last by 5 percentage points. With Cruz removed, Trump would still beat Rubio, 52 percent to 45 percent.

Now that’s a huge problem for Republicans.  Sure, polling in primaries can change fast, but presumably within certain logical paramaters, e.g., we shouldn’t expect to see Cruz support ever go to Jeb.

Lastly, given that I was talking about the affective polarization of partisanship in class yesterday (i.e., the hatred between Democrats and Republicans) I actually feel a little funny writing so much negative stuff about Republicans.  But, I don’t actually have a problem with Republicans.  There’s many that I personally know and respect and there’s plenty that I think hold truly reasonable, just different, political views in my own (e.g., Frum, Douthat, Gerson).  What’s so frustrating to me (and many Republicans) is that the party has largely been taken over by a fact-free, insurgent outlier force with virtually no interest in capable governing or smart policy.   And right now that faction is looking quite ascendant in the primaries.

About Steve Greene
Professor of Political Science at NC State

2 Responses to The GOP as failed state

  1. Mika says:

    Thanks for the Vox article, IATs are so cool! 🙂 My partisan bias test result was about -0,6, somewhere between independent and moderate. Which makes sense, I would have been surprised if I had developed democratic social identity. Well, even more so if the test had labeled me a republican.:)

    I got so excited about the IAT that I took the Harvard racism IAT. My result was: “Your data suggest a moderate automatic preference for European American compared to African American.” Well… now I’m aware of it!

  2. R. Jenrette says:

    The rise of the far right in the GOP has almost everything to do with money.The more anger and passion, the more money is donated to those seeking it. It may have started with politicians seeking campaign funds but it escalated when some people realized that the angrier people are the more money they will send and not just to fund a political campaign.
    Soon not only politicians but people with a cause got in the game.
    Right wing anger turned out to be very lucrative for a lot of people. So everything big and small that offends the right becomes a fundraiser.
    All the original donors and their workers wanted was to encourage an angry, vocal pressure group that voted the donors’ way.
    The seeds of all this anger have always been there but it took stoking in the beginning. As the numbers and the anger grew, many began to see the opportunities for profit but profits depend on continuing anger.
    And now there are a lot of really angry people, enough to see their power and to exert it.
    What they want is way past the original intent of those who encouraged them in the beginning.

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