I thought I'd wait until the National Schadenfreude Day celebrations had died down a bit before examining some of what happened on Tuesday night, in which we elected a new Democratic president and a whole binder full of new Democratic lady senators, but during which, because I was down reporting in the Duchy of Grand Clusterfkistan, I was tasked with following the election from a state in which the election just ended
. Rock, paper, scissors, kids. Best three out of five. Florida doesn't need UN observers. It needs exorcists.
The Republicans, of course, are all in a hilarious tizzy about how it all went sour. Was Romney the wrong candidate? (Of course he was. Nominating G.I. Luvmoney four years after his best pals nearly burned down the world was almost as stupid as nominating one of the other clowns in the clown car would have been. Oops. Paradox! Alert! Alert! Arrrrrooooooooogaaaahhh!!) Was the "message" bad? (Of course it was. It's been bad for 30 years. The country's just been catching up to how godawful it is. Hint: You've lost the official popular vote in four of the last five presidential elections, and the one you "won" has an asterisk the size of Alpha Centauri hung on it.) Was the moon in the seventh house? In my capacity as Gracious Winner, let me suggest an alternative general theory.
You lost because your party has become demented.
The Republican party is a cascade of symptoms right now. And it's very hard to see a way out of it. It has managed to construct an almost perfect Newtonian hall of mirrors — for each solution, there is within the party an equal, but opposite problem. There is almost no way to function within the party structure as it has been redefined by the various elements of the conservative "movement" without rounding a corner and colliding with the image of itself coming in the other direction. For example, let us consider the problem of "demographics," which is the polite Republican way of talking about the browns, and the blahs, and the ladies with their ladyparts potions. I wish I had a nickel for the number of people I heard tell me how ready the Republican party is to adapt to the changing face of America. The evidence always cited for the plaintiffs: Marco Rubio, "Bobby" Jindal, and the newly elected Ted Cruz down in Texas.
Okay. Even leaving aside the utter tokenism of the basic argument, Rubio is a pro-life fanatic. Jindal is even more of a pro-life fanatic, plus he's bringing into Louisiana through his charter "schools" a veritable torrent of Jesus-on-a-dinosaur propaganda textbooks, and he has all the charisma of a handball at this point. And Ted Cruz is completely batshit
Cruz is a conspiracy theory character. He is convinced billionaire George Soros is funding a secret agenda to shutdown golf courses because they harm the environment and is conspiring with the United Nations to eliminate national sovereignty and private property. Cruz is convinced sharia law is an enormous problem in the U.S. and that extending unemployment benefits creates more unemployment and that churches ought to be able to keep their tax exemptions even as they endorse candidates from the pulpit.
Even assuming, which I don't, that simply elevating, say, Cruz would dazzle some of the Hispanic voters who are fleeing from the party in droves — the Republicans almost lost
the Cuban American vote in Florida, which hasn't happened since the Bay of Pigs invasion — elevating one of these guy also would do nothing for the party's miserable image among the blahs. It would outrage the gay people (who, after all, had a better night on Tuesday than the Democrats did), further inflame the ladies with their ladyparts, and scare the Sansabelts off the grumpy white people who are the problem in the first place. The problem the Republicans have is one of competing, self-negating orthodoxies, each with its own center of power within the Republican electorate.
Okay, so the "deep bench" has all the same problems that the alleged "first string" has. How about "moderating the policies"? Okay, good luck with that. Rick Perry defended giving in-state tuition to the children of undocumented immigrants in a debate this year and that was the real end of his campaign. The Republican party had a "moderate" position on immigration as recently as 2008. John McCain had to run away from his own bill. For that matter, on a number of other issues, "cap and trade" was once a Republican position. So, for that matter, was the individual health-care mandate. All of them are completely dead in the water. And even if you could find a moderate Hispanic who supported gay marriage, held the old George H.W. Bush position on reproductive freedom, believed in evolution and climate change, and argued for cap-and-trade, the DREAM Act, and the insurance-friendly health-care reform currently on offer for what they are, which is decent traditional Republican positions, and he was charismatic enough to overcome the anger within the "base" that all of these positions would engender, you'd still have two insurmountable problems....
The first is the economy. Strip away all the anti-science, anti-women, anti-gay, anti-immigrant positions, and the Republicans still are wedded to an economic doctrine that's as nutty as is Ted Cruz's opinion on the UN plot to steal our golfs. Five years ago, Jonathan Chait — who, by the way, had a great election season — wrote a book called The Big Con, in which he successfully linked the Republican devotion to supply-side economics to all the other wacky positions into which the conservative "movement" has finessed the Republicans. And that, friends, is the real hill on which they are prepared to die. Even our hypothetical candidate cannot abandon that doctrine even though study after study, suppressed or not
, and three decades of practical experience, have all taught us that it is simply destructive moonshine. This is the one thing on which Willard Romney remained constant throughout his entire career. Witness, if you please, the reaction of John Boehner and Mitch McConnell to the events of Tuesday night. Fudge and nonsense, and a continued instance that any "compromise" must needs take place on their home ground. How destructive is this enforced orthodoxy on purportedly "moderate" Republicans? Ask Scott Brown, who signed Grover Norquist's idiotic "pledge" not to raise taxes, and then had Elizabeth Warren beat the pink leather shorts off him for it during the campaign.