Stephen Kruiser: The Republican party will never be able to accomplish anything significant until it purges what I like to call its “Romney Wing.” There is progress being made in that regard, but the wing’s namesake will eventually have to go.
Fran Porretto: What makes you think Republican legislators sincerely want to accomplish anything, much less anything significant?
Our “two-party system,” which some commentators seem to think should be enforced by law, is currently dominated by…drum roll, please…two parties: the Evil Party (Democrats) and the Useless Party (Republicans). Of the Evil Party, it is unnecessary to comment. Concerning the Useless Party, we have this, from an “insider:”
For decades, the Democratic Party had commanded a majority of Florida’s registered voters. But the state was changing, as Trump’s election helped energize a shift in political affinities. The Republican Party’s rank and file became increasingly radical, and G.O.P. leaders appeared only too happy to follow them. “There was always an element of the Republican Party that was batshit crazy,” Mac Stipanovich, the chief of staff to Governor Bob Martinez, a moderate Republican, told me. “They had lots of different names—they were John Birchers, they were ‘movement conservatives,’ they were the religious right. And we did what every other Republican candidate did: we exploited them. We got them to the polls. We talked about abortion. We promised—and we did nothing. They could grumble, but their choices were limited.
“So what happened?” Stipanovich continued. “Trump opened Pandora’s box and let them out. And all the nasty stuff that was in the underbelly of American politics got a voice. What was thirty-five per cent of the Republican Party is now eighty-five per cent. And it’s too late to turn back.”
The Useless Party regularly proclaims an agenda that’s nearly diametrically opposed to that of the Evil Party…but when it receives a majority in Congress and control of the White House, it routinely does nothing, as that “insider” admits quite frankly above. This has resulted in a “What’s the use?” sentiment gathering force among conservative-inclined voters:
In partnership with the Trafalgar Group, Convention of States Action conducted a national survey to measure how likely voters perceived the case to vote for the GOP made by Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy when he unveiled the COA. It also assessed their feelings on two key issues addressed by the new Republican bargain with the public.
Mark Meckler, president of the Convention of States Action, summed it up nicely. “We found in these numbers a fascinating gap between style and substance.” He went on to explain: “A few weeks ago, we asked voters if the GOP has done enough convincing to earn their vote, a majority said no. In this poll, we wanted to see if House Republican Leader Kevin McCarthy’s ‘Commitment to America’ media rollout last week moved the needle for voters. It did not. The numbers are virtually identical.”
Yet other surveys have indicated majority support for the GOP’s stated positions on several key issues, including a “parents’ bill of rights” and American energy independence. Those things are part of the recent “Commitment to America” proposal form Congressman Kevin McCarthy, who is believed to be the probable Speaker of the House should the Republicans recapture the majority there. So what’s the problem, American voters?
The only demographic where a majority did not indicate they were at least somewhat more likely to vote for a candidate who supported the COA commitment to producing more oil and gas was likely voters who identify as Democrats. Even a majority of black voters and those under 22 want cheaper energy and gas. Meckler summed it up this way: “Voters like what Republicans are proposing, they just don’t believe the GOP sells it well enough. Frankly, they just don’t believe that Republicans do what they say they will do.”
If history is relevant, voters are correct to doubt that new GOP majorities would perform any better than older ones.
America’s problems are expressly political: i.e., the dynamics that have come to dominate our electoral politics. If one dominant party is undisguisedly Evil, as is the case today, the other doesn’t need to perform at all. All its standard-bearers need to say is “Vote for us or you’ll get them!” That is sufficient to entrench its key figures in lucrative positions in the Great Federal Influence-Peddling Machine.
It’s long been suspected that the Republican power elite actually prefer for their party to be in the minority, where their nonfeasance will not impede their grip on their positions. The evidence has massed disturbingly these past few decades. That includes GOP leaders’ perpetual tolerance of destructive “mavericks” such as Jim Jeffords, Arlen Specter, Susan Collins, John McCain, and Mitt Romney. Apparently the record has convinced a great many voters, despite their policy preferences, to “embrace the suck:” i.e., to disdain all participation in politics, even eschewing to vote for those candidates whose positions come closest to their preferences.
Perhaps I could get an Italian passport. There is a vowel at the end of my name, you know.