The End of the Grand Old Party

Foreshadowed tonight in a comment by a "Top Romney Advisor":

So the argument here is that party elites will let you vote for Romney or, if you won't, they'll simply remove the decision from your hands.  Romney won't get their nod, and neither will Gingrich, nor anyone else who has won delegates out of the votes of the people.  The party and not the voters will decide.

The Democrats got this result in 2008.  Do you remember?  The debate was over whether some states -- Clinton-won states -- would be allowed to vote their full slate, or if they would have to accept limited or no participation in the convention.  Then-Senator Clinton's campaign made a big deal about counting every vote.  When the convention came, though, she took the Secretary of State position instead of forcing a contest; and they ended up counting none of the votes, but nominating then-Senator Obama by acclamation.

We have watched the capture of the Democratic party by public-sector unions, the vastly rich corporate powers that support the unions, and their dogs in the New Class who make up the leadership of the Occupy movements.  It's destroyed a party that meant a lot to America over the course of its history; it meant something to me.  I fought for it for a long time, even in twilight.

I've never been a Republican, and the fate of that party is of no special interest to me.  All the same, it seems like someone ought to say this:  the Republican party isn't like what the Democratic party has become.  If they pull the trigger on this, and set aside the voters for the will of their internal elites, they will lose everything.

This is because the base of the Republican party is middle America, and middle America won't accept this.  The success of the Gingrich campaign to date is predicated on their hatred of the party elites.  Deny them the power to vote for their leadership and their representatives, and they will come looking for heads.

Perhaps that is for the best.  What we need is a genuinely populist revolt against the political class, and the removal of all those who rest in easy seats of power.  Perhaps in the aftermath of what was once the Republican party, we can build a movement that will break the chains of eighty years of submission to the state, to the powerful, and to the guidance of those said to be wiser than we.


Joseph W. said...

"Genuine populist revolt" is the last thing we need. Populist ideas are a huge part of the problem and no part of the solution, and we are already getting a healthy dose of the class-war rhetoric that is the heart of populism.

It would be much simpler, if our problems were really a matter of a dolchstoss by those dirty evil fat-cat bosses who eat peaches and cream, and we could restore our liberties just by exorcising these devils. Inflate the currency to help those poor debtors against those evil rich creditors, abolish speculation, confiscate corporate property and property held by those funny-looking aliens, get that higgledy-piggledy communications industry back into government hands...

No, what we need is a kind of restraint in the use of government power - a restraint that is the very opposite of populism. I doubt that the current debt crises will teach that lesson (they never have before) but time will tell.

rcl said...

Ordinarily I'd say you were being overly dramatic. Primaries have always been a staged show in both parties. The real election doesn't happen until the delegates and brokers huddle at the conventions. The PR conceals the men behind the curtain who step in when the script deviates from the storyline.

I think you've got it right for 2012. Most of the GOP base believes their votes matter. They will snap. If the RNC forces some lame moderate to the fore millions, myself included, will go elsewhere.

I'm trying to maintain level during my crisis of confidence in American civic order. I do have hopes of the US actually returning to a Republic. Taking a long view the collapse of the GOP would be the best of all possible outcomes. There will be no conservative opposition party until the Republican Party has gone the way of the Whigs. If they facilitate that happy occurance with a blatant demonstration of contempt for their constituency the few honorable men in their ranks will walk and torch the building as they leave, God willing.

rcl said...

Joseph, I don't think anything Grim was talking about posits a "populist" revolt. A revolt of the constituency against party elites running a crooked game is simply good against evil. It isn't class warfare, it's the honest against thieves. The "revolt" will most likely consist of simply voting non-traditional, third party or staying home.

This sounds good to me. As a Californian my votes haven't counted for 20 years. Every win is reversed by the courts or flushed down the toilet in a deal between the Two Parties. Two sides of the same coin.

When you realize you're in a rigged game you can't win it's time to kick over the table.

Cass said...

For most of our history, candidates were chosen by their respective parties behind closed doors. So the real departure here is trying to open the process up.

As we're seeing, I'm not sure that process is any better or more rational. Nor am I sure we're getting better candidates.

I can't get excited about populism or populist rage. There's a reason the current system has persisted. The Interwebs are full of "Aieeeeee - this will be the death of..." predictions that never come true.

The idea that people who have never had to actually grapple with complex issues will somehow magically make different/better decisions from ignorance than equally flawed people do from a position of knowledge strikes me as problematic at best, Grim. OWS is a perfect example of this phenomenon and so far the results aren't impressive.

Grim said...


I think you have a more technical definition of "populism" in mind than I have. I mean only the generic definition of a movement of the people against the elites; the word, in various forms, has been used that way since the Roman empire, without attaching a more specific agenda.

What I think "the people," in the case of Republican rank-and-file voters, wants is exactly the kind of limited government you ask for. They want to force the powerful to live by the Constitution. That, at least, is what I hear day and night down here in Georgia.


You're right that it's an innovation of the last few decades, perhaps even as late as 1968. However, as Joesph W. himself said about the American revolution, a feature of the American system has been that if you let Americans do something for a while, they decide they have a right to do it. The British felt like they'd never formally granted a right, and thus could change the process if they wanted (being after all the legitimate government); the colonists thought that was reason enough to reject the government of the British.

Thus if you want to use 1968 as the year, since the voting age was still 21 back then, for everyone 64 years old and younger this is the tradition that has held for every election they have ever voted in.

In a real sense, the Republican party can pick its nominee however it wants. I'm not sure what the process is that the Libertarian party uses, but they always come up with a candidate. There will be consequences, though, to telling the electorate that they get to pick the nominee, and then changing the process halfway through because of fear of living with their choice.

Texan99 said...

The GOP is sorting itself out into the Constitutional Party vs. the Country Club Status Quo Party. One or the other will do a better job of capturing the middle, including all the "independents" who aren't quite sure what policies are likely to work but just hope no one will do anything too upsetting. My vote's for the Constitution: free markets and limited government.

Grim said...

A good point, T99.

By the way -- off topic -- I've taken the liberty of compiling a "favorites" section for you on the sidebar. Please let me know what you'd like to add.

Texan99 said...

Oh, man, it feels like Christmas! Thanks!

bthun said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Anonymous said...

One could think of the US having a popular "revolt" every two years, with a bigger one at the four-year mark. Seriously, elections are what we do, so that we can have policy change without bloodletting.

I don't see the GOP dying, so much as being taken over. I believe that both parties will survive, in name if not in content, because Americans like to have two parties, and they will replace politicians who fail.

Here's some follow-up on the past sins of the Democratic Party. I've been looking for this, because as I said before, the cognitive dissonance between what they've been saying and what's verifiable runs up my nerves like a nail across a chalk board.

Three to five years ago, I would have laughed at anybody who told me that I'd support Newt Gingrich for President. But a a lot of what I knew then turned out to be deliberate falsification for political gain.

I don't say Newt is perfect, and I would run from his attention socially, but for the limited purpose of setting right this country's fiscal policy, he'd be fine.


bthun said...

Take 2: This time watching the my digits who seem to have a mind of their own...

As usual, excellent commentary.

I have but one question before I'd be willing to break out the Jack Daniels, cigars, and start in on a da^^^ed uber, super-duper delegate elitist/Bilderberg rant... To whom exactly was Mitchell speaking when she was given this reinvention/restoration of the smoke filled room plan?

bthun said...


Your comment reminded me to search my bookmarks. A while back, I rooted around the intertubes searching for dater on the Newt's ethics did not meet D.C. standards event.

I found the CNN blurb on the IRS clearing Newt of the last of the ethics violations, and in print, just to supplement your link...
IIRC it was a witch hunt on rails.


bthun said...

Sheesh... The head to digits comm link appears to be on the fritz again. Please allow me to insert allegations that between dater on the and Newt's ethics did not meet D.C. standards in my previous comment.

Cass said...


I read that article this morning and will be writing about it when I have more time.

One of the most interesting things on the Internet (to me at least!) is seeing how people on different sides of the political fence cover a story. That article left a LOT out :p And so does the Left - they do it all the time.

Leaving part of the facts out is a distortion. That's where the phrase "lying by omission" came from. It's not a lie per se, but it's not an accurate recounting, either.

York didn't say anything untrue, but by the same token he chose to leave a fair amount out. And that's my problem with the whole "Everyone knows Newt has baggage" argument. It reduces a complex story to a soundbyte.

Anyway, I'll let y'all know when I have time to get to this and you can tell me where you think I'm wrong :)

douglas said...

"I don't see the GOP dying, so much as being taken over. I believe that both parties will survive, in name if not in content, because Americans like to have two parties, and they will replace politicians who fail."

I can see it as a possibility. In this day and age, a movement can build the infrastructure needed to make a party work fairly quickly- I offer the Tea parties as evidence, even though they are not a political party, they could quickly become the core of a new, third party. Michael Medved rightly tells us that third parties are wastes of time and mostly crazy, but under the right circumstances, you could birth a legitimate third party, and it would be the death of the Republican party. I don't see it happening to the Dems, but I suppose it's also possible. History is a good guide, but when technologies change, other things change too. We may be in a new political era and not even realize the extent of it all.