Browsing the blog archivesfor the day Friday, October 11th, 2013.

America Held Hostage, Day Whatever

Obama Administration

I don’t expect any breakthroughs today. However, there are a number of news stories out saying that (1) the GOP is hemorrhaging support in the polls; and (2) the establishment GOP has had it up to here with the baggers.

My question is, does the establishment have a base any more? Or has the Tea Party eaten it?

Ron Brownstein wrote,

The reason the most confrontational congressional Republicans have seized the party’s controls is that they are most directly channeling the bottomless alienation coursing through much of the GOP’s base. That doesn’t mean Republican voters have broadly endorsed the party’s specific tactics: In this week’s United Technologies/National Journal Congressional Connection Poll, even GOP voters split fairly closely on the wisdom of seeking concessions on President Obama’s health care law through the debt and spending showdowns (while almost every other group preponderantly opposed that idea).

But the kamikaze caucus, by seeking to block the president by any means necessary, is reflecting the back-to-the wall desperation evident among grassroots Republicans convinced that Obama and his urbanized, racially diverse supporters are transforming America into something unrecognizable. Although those voters are split over whether the current tactics will work, they are united in resisting any accommodation with Obama.

Overlooking some of the both-sides-do-it framing, what the article says is that the GOP’s white, aging base is obsessed with the belief that “big government” amounts to their tax money paying for cushy benefits for the less deserving (i.e, not white). They honestly believe that the Democratic Party gains votes by getting minorities dependent on government handouts that white people don’t get.

Those findings suggest that the real fight under way isn’t primarily about the size of government but rather who benefits from it. The frenzied push from House Republicans to derail Obamacare, shelve immigration reform, and slash food stamps all point toward a steadily escalating confrontation between a Republican coalition revolving around older whites and a Democratic coalition anchored on the burgeoning population of younger nonwhites. Unless the former recognizes its self-interest in uplifting the latter—the future workforce that will fund entitlements for the elderly—even today’s titanic budget battle may be remembered as only an early skirmish in a generation-long siege between the brown and the gray.

The joke is, of course, that a whole lot of white people depend on those “entitlements,” too, and not just Social Security and Medicare.

However, judging by current poll numbers, the hard-core baggers are not by themselves a big enough group to keep Republicans in Washington. With congressional district gerrymandering and deep pocket donors the GOP isn’t going to disappear. They’ll likely keep control of the House for a while. But unless the party can make a significant course change to broaden its base, the 2010 midterms may have been their last hurrah for, well, a long time to come.

Maybe forever? The actual death of a major party is not something that happens often, and I’ll believe it when I see it. But for the end-is-nigh arguments, see John Judis and Elias Isquith.

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