November 5, 2008

Republican calls for Palin in 2012 reveal a deep malaise

A mere one day after the election, a number of Republicans are encouraging Sarah Palin to prepare for the 2012 presidential run. Rush Limbaugh has gone so far as to call her "The next Ronald Reagan."

This is a clear indication that there are some deep and underlying problems within the party -- something that's particularly revealing considering what just transpired in the recently concluded election.

The party itself is a pale imitation of what it used to be. Modern Republicanism has regressed to petty populism -- it's now all about apple pie, Joe six-pack and anti-intellectual sentiment. Sure, it can be a great way to get elected, but as we've seen time and time again, it's no way to run a country (actually, given the GOP defeat, it's not even a good way to run an election any more -- though it was disturbingly close).

Another problem is that the GOP keeps looking at the rear view mirror; post-election punditry from the Republicans have been filled with calls for a return to good 'ol fashion Reaganism. Well, Reagan's coalition was built on the issues of crime, welfare, taxes and the Cold War. These are now old battles and and old ways of thinking about how to mobilize the electorate.

A number of Republicans have clearly not learned from their defeat in this election about where the party needs to go (in terms of reform and modernization) and how they need to speak to the needs and pains of the American people; it's quickly becoming the party of the previous century. The Democrats, meanwhile, are looking to become the first true administration of the 21st Century.

As an example, the GOP must catch up to Democrats in online organizing and fundraising - a shortcoming made clear in this election. "The Republican Party is teetering on the brink of irrelevancy," argues Professor Lawrence R. Jacobs, director of the Center for the Study of Politics and Governance at the University of Minnesota. "This is about as close to a repudiation as you can get."

Negative reactions to recent dissent from within the party further reinforces the notion that the Republicans are uninterested in doing any soul searching; columnist Kathleen Parker has been drowning in hate mail on account of her criticisms of Sarah Palin, Chris Buckley, the son of the late William F. Buckley Jr., lost his position at the National Review, and Colin Powell is most certainly now persona non grata among the Republicans.

Mind you, not all Republicans feel this way, of course. There are already calls for reform in some quarters. At any rate, they've got lots of work to do. The only question is: in which direction will they take the party?


Chris said...

by the time Obama leaves office (2016) a lot of conservative baby boomers will have died, and the US electorate will be more ethnically and culturally mixed. unless the Obama administration screws up in some major way (e.g. the relations they form or fail to form with russia) it is hard to see how republicans could recover their previous dominance. maybe the next turning point will be bioethics - at what point in the development of new biotechnology do people decide that the liberal slope is getting too slippery; at what point do we start hearing unanimous calls to ban the liberal transhumanists? maybe it never gets to that point, but i sure wonder what Obama's bioethics council will look like..

Michael Anissimov said...

An interesting phenomenon of the election was Ron Paul. A new, anti-war, constitutionalist, classical conservative that managed to inspire a large amount of young libertarians. Maybe if the GOP moved in that direction, they'd become relevant again?

It's just fine if Republicans want to boost Palin. She's plainly not that intelligent, so they'd only be shooting themselves in the foot. The GOP could dig up centrist, appealing party members (Bobby Jindal?) if they wanted to, they just hold too closely to their (far-right) principles to let that happen.

For now, the ball is in our -- the Democrats -- court. Now that we have all the power, will we put it to good use? Only time will tell, but what a foreign policy head start -- the world is in love with Obama. Question #1 -- invade Iran, or snub Israel? Difficult question. In light of past geopolitical alignments, an invasion of Iran seems probable, even under an Obama administration. The difference is that Obama is less likely to start WWIII that McCain would under the same taxing circumstances.

Mark Plus said...

Michael, Ron Paul supports just about all the bad ideas that we need to get away from. For example:
Ron Paul: Quackery enabler.

Not to mention that Paul put his name on an openly racist newsletter published for years.

Anonymous said...

I hardly think you can say that the evidence you've presented represent a "deep malaise" in the Republican party.

I'm sure there's plenty of Democrats who think Obama isn't liberal enough, but that doesn't reveal a "deep malise" in the Democratic party, unless you've got some evidence that it's a substantial/important number.

Note that I'm not even saying you're wrong (I don't know), just that the evidence presented doesn't justify the conclusions drawn.

George said...

Hey Dustin, sure, my claim may be overstated -- but the fact that Palin is being groomed for 2012 and that a number of Republicans are still chanting the Reagan name is strong indication to me that this is very likely the case.

Anonymous said...

I wouldn't read too much into this victory. It's neither a new era nor a realignment of the United States. In 2004, the Republicans were talking about a permanent majority. These things are always tenuous. It was a big win this time around. Could be a big win the other way in 2 or 4 years. There's real work to be done to make sure that doesn't happen.

Really, if you think about it, considering all of the things going against the Republicans this year -- a failing economy, an unpopular war, an uncharismatic candidate pitted against the most charismatic politician in a generation, an absurd and embarrassing VP pick -- the fact that Obama only won the popular vote by 6% is pretty disappointing. Given all the advantages he had, it should have been more like 10 or 15%.