What never ceases to amaze me is the extent to which the same things happen, time and again, and nobody ever learns from the past.
If you have the time, go back to the last blog I wrote, read the thing and then study the reader comments. People seemed to get fairly upset that I’d said pretty much the following:
1) The Republican party is largely dominated by white males;
2) Many of those white males hold some really nutty ideas, no matter how much evidence exists to demonstrate that those ideas are truly nutty. Many of them, for example, believe that Barack Obama is a practicing Muslim who was born outside the United States and is therefore ineligible to be President.
3) The percentage of white males in the population is diminishing rapidly, according to Census data, and
4) If white males want to remain at all relevant to American political life – and if they want to keep their Republican party alive – then they’d better abandon the asinine fantasies that underlie many of their political convictions. If they refuse to do that, their Republican party will simply fade away.
It’s not as though this hasn’t happened before. When the country was founded, the first President spoke against political parties and refused to join one. Very quickly, however, the politicians who founded the country split into two factions.
The Federalist Party was the first American political party. It was led by Alexander Hamilton and composed mostly of northern, urban bankers and businessmen who favored a strong national government. What the Federalists wanted, essentially, was the rule of proper gentlemen over the largely illiterate, unwashed bumpkins who’d aided them in ending rule by the English nobility.
Their political opponents were the Democratic-Republicans, led by Thomas Jefferson. They were mainly planters and southerners who viewed the Federalists as too citified and snooty and out of touch with the common man. By 1801, they’d wrested control of the federal government from the Federalists, who managed to remain a party for only the next 20 years or so.
Andrew Jackson was the guy who led a split in the Democratic-Republicans to create the Democrats. The Democratic-Republicans promptly morphed into the Whigs and were taken over later on by the Republican party. The original Republican party of 1854 was urban and northern and bore little relationship to the Republican party of today. It was fiercely anti-slavery and, by the standards of political scientists, pretty liberal.
Over the next century and a half, the Democrats attracted the waves of poor immigrants who swarmed into the northern cities and broadened the party’s base to dominate urban areas. The Republican party, originally a fairly radical outfit, grew more conservative in the face of immigration, more rural and more southern. Today, largely because of concerns that the Democrats have become overly concerned with the welfare of minorities at the expense of whites, the Republican party is composed mostly of white people in an era when the country is becoming less and less white. In other words, modern Republicans are beginning to look in some ways a lot like the old Federalists.
What’s the logical outcome? Well, just do the math. The Republicans of today seem headed down the same path as the Federalists. Their one chance to survive more than a few more decades is to stop talking exclusively to one another and to begin talking to the rest of the country as well.
And, just maybe, to begin listening a little bit, too.
Only every indication is that too many Republicans just can’t bring themselves to do that. They are so furious over the changes in the country’s population – and with what they believe to be the concurrent collapse of the national social structure – that they can muster too little logic to subdue their ever-growing rage.
So, when they hold presidential primary elections, Republican voters force their candidates to take such intensely far right positions that those candidates have much to overcome every November, when it’s not just Republicans voting. The most suicidal example of that is the way the Republicans rail against illegal immigration. Only the furthest left of Americans disagree with them on the merits of that issue, but Republican rhetoric is so vitriolic and so poisonous on the topic that they repel the exploding percentage of Hispanic voters.
All the Latinos hear when the Republicans start in with their howls to build a wall between the U. S. and Mexico is, “We’ve got the keep those brown people out of here!” Guess what? Brown people who vote here get sort of pissed over that.
I don’t belong to a party. I’ve seen too much evidence that people join political parties just so they don’t have to think any more about public affairs. The party line is there; they’re happy with it, now what’s on TV? But I’m a big believer in a functional two-party system that prevents one party or the other from going too far, as each of them are prone to do without restraints.
At the moment, the Republican party — with all its nutty ideas about Obama’s birth and religion, about imaginary news media bias and women holding aspirin tablets between their knees, with its brown-and-black-people-bashing, with its totally fraudulent claims about this country’s history and what its Constitution says – are like a mob of frenzied lemmings heading right off a cliff.
And when you point that out to them, they just run faster and faster toward the edge in their crazed, suicidal rage.
Be sure to visit my Web site at forpeoplewhothink.com