The Crackup of the GOP Coalition
John Judis’ article at The New Republic arguing that the GOP coalition is disintegrating is outstanding, and not least because it emphasizes precisely the same point as I’ve been making: the most powerful wings of the coalition no longer have anything of significance in common. Judis does a particularly excellent job tracing the way in which that increasing incoherence has manifested itself in critical GOP-aligned grassroots organizations. Unlike too many liberals, Judis also makes an excellent effort to dispel the belief that these groups possessing the backing of the Tea Party cannot be dismissed merely as tools of the Koch brothers.
What is happening in the Republican Party today is reminiscent of what happened to the Democrats in the late 1960s and early 1970s. At that time, the Democrats in Washington were faced by a grassroots revolt from the new left over the war in Vietnam and from the white South over the party’s support for civil rights. It took the Democrats over two decades to do undo the damage—to create a party coalition that united the leadership in Washington with the base and that was capable of winning national elections. The Republicans could be facing a similar split between their base and their Washington leadership, and it could cripple them not just in the 2014 and 2016 elections, but for decades to come.
My only quibble is that I suspect the GOP is further along in this process than Judis recognizes – I’ve been writing about the lack of common interests within the GOP coalition since late 2007, and strongly suspect that everything will come to a head in the 2016 election, after which the rebuilding process can begin.