No one knows for sure, of course, what is in store for the Republicans - or for the Democrats either. But what I do know is that recent whining by Rush Limbaugh and Sean Hannity that "there's no problem with conservatism because more people in this country still identify as conservative rather than liberal" is missing the point.
Will the 2008 G.O.P. go the way of the 1936 G.O.P., which didn’t reclaim the White House until 1952? Even factoring in the Democrats’ time-honored propensity for self-immolation, it’s not beyond reason. The Republicans are in serious denial. A few heretics excepted, they hope to blame all their woes on their unpopular president, the inept McCain campaign and their party’s latent greed for budget-busting earmarks.The trouble is far more fundamental than that. The G.O.P. ran out of steam and ideas well before George W. Bush took office and Tom DeLay ran amok, and it is now more representative of 20th-century South Africa during apartheid than 21st-century America. The proof is in the vanilla pudding. When David Letterman said that the 10 G.O.P. presidential candidates at an early debate looked like “guys waiting to tee off at a restricted country club,” he was the first to correctly call the election.
They're right, in a sense: there's nothing wrong with old-fashioned, common sense conservatism. But the "conservatism" that Limbaugh and Hannity subscribe to is really nothing more than blind-faith devotion to the economic insanity, wedge issues and cultural warfare to which the Republican Party has married itself for the past three decades. Spending more money while cutting taxes is not conservative. Telling people whom they can and cannot marry is not conservative. Intervening with Terri Schiavo's life is not conservative. Putting initiatives on state ballots that would deny people the right to decide whether or not they want to have an abortion or adopt a child is not conservative. Supporting a holy war against a relatively defenseless opponent who did not attack us - and continuing to support it even as it was horribly mismanaged - is not conservative.
The GOP has become a band of nonsensical and deluded hypocrites utterly ignorant of the place in which they find themselves. This year, we got to hear John McCain, - who has been in lock step with George W. Bush for most of his presidency - deride the Democrats as bringers of "big government," as if he was somehow asleep as the Bush administration oversaw the biggest expansion of federal government in U.S. history. And that was the nonsense being spewed by their nominee for president! (Though, frankly, it pales in comparison to the bullshit artist that is Sarah Palin.)
But, then again, the entire party is based on BS. The Republicans say they are "for life" because they don't want women to have the right to choose to have an abortion - yet God forbid anyone try to prevent people from carrying a concealed AK-47 down a public street. They call themselves "conservatives" yet they vote for legislation like the Patriot Act, and they lower taxes while increasing spending. They claim to be a party of "moral values" when they are actually the party of Ted Stevens, Mark Foley, David Vitter, Bob Ney and Jack Abramoff - not to mention Bush, Rove and Cheney. They believe they are the "party of Lincoln" - and, yeah, maybe they are: when Lincoln was president, there was no global warming to deny, no stem cell research to oppose, no telephone wires to tap and only rich, white men had a voice in the political process. The more I think about it, yeah - today's Republicans would fit in very well in 1860.
This country has serious problems that will not be solved by Sarah Palin, or Proposition 8, or a Federal Marriage Amendment, or hard-line conservative judges, or the NRA, or any of the tired old games the Republicans have been playing for as long as I've been alive. This is a serious time and it requires serious-minded people and I beg the Right to grow up, come into the 21st century and, finally, get serious. It would serve America well if the Republicans could be a real political party again, one filled with real, intellectual conservatives, and not just "guys waiting to tee off at a restricted country club." Grow up, GOP. We're all waiting for you.