One of my biggest faults (as my husband, children and multiple others will confirm) is impatience. It manifests pretty much everywhere–reading a mystery, I want to skim over the clues and get to the part where it’s solved; watching a rom-com, I am anxious for the concluding kiss … I can share all kinds of other examples.
Which brings me to my frustration with the slow-motion disintegration of the Republican Party.
I’ve been predicting the demise of the GOP for at least the last twenty years. Back in “the day”–before the party morphed into a White Christian Nationalist cult–I focused on the growing rift between what we then called “country club Republicans” and the culture warriors that were fringe then, but who now control the party. The country club contingent was composed primarily of business people who were focused on economic policy and tended to see the fringe folks as useful worker bees with a nutty agenda that could safely be ignored once the election was won.
The divorce between those two incompatible factions has taken a lot longer than I once predicted, but today’s MAGA reality has accelerated it.
A couple of years ago, a Washington Post column focused on the widening gulf between corporate America and today’s GOP. The columnist began by pointing to those ubiquitous television ads with their “stream of multicultural and often mixed-raced families buying cars, taking vacations, planning their retirements, doing laundry and laughing at the dinner table.”
You don’t watch television? Just pay attention to the pop-up ads when you surf the Web. See the smiling faces — the sea of Black, Brown, tan and golden faces — that make it clear that corporate America knows that scenes of White families are no longer the only aspirational groupings that make customers want to open their wallets.
The column described the diverging goals of the GOP and corporate America as “two very interesting but very different branding exercises.” It then addressed the increasingly uneasy partnership between the two branches of the party.
For years, these two campaigns allowed both sides to maintain their mutually beneficial arrangement. In recent days, however, the two branding campaigns have collided over the most basic question in our democracy: Who gets to vote and how? Which brand will emerge from this collision in better shape is already a foregone conclusion. But the reason may have less to do with right and wrong than profit and loss.
Under the old arrangement, corporate America would reliably deliver huge sums of money to GOP campaigns and causes, and Republicans would deliver lower taxes on income and capital gains in return. If big companies did not endorse everything the party stood for, they remained mostly silent in service of their bottom line.
As we know, the GOP has morphed into a White, largely evangelical and largely non-urban cult hostile to immigration, science, foreign engagement and Black people. Meanwhile, much of corporate America has evolved in a very different direction. Business sees its interests and bottom lines enhanced by immigration and dependent upon science. Foreign markets give companies a stake in global affairs, and as America’s demography has diversified, so have their target markets.So that increasing gap between business and today’s version of the GOP has continued to grow.
The finally accelerating divide between business and the GOP is not the only sign that the party is disintegrating. Intra-party divisions became significantly more pronounced after Trump’s election.
We are seeing more primary battles between the MAGA Republicans aligned with Trump and the few remaining, more traditional incumbents. Those challenges have not only weakened party cohesion, but have frequently resulted in the nomination of candidates who are considerably less electable in general elections.
During the Trump years, the GOP has gone from differences on policy issues to the abandonment of policy (not to mention the constitution) altogether, making it abundantly clear that GOP candidates are running solely to exercise power, not to govern–to “be someone” rather than “do something.” Internal fights are no longer about policy, but about devotion to Trump and the autocratic MAGA movement; those fights have led to situations in which state and local Republican parties have censured or even expelled members who have deviated from MAGA obsessions.
The disintegration of a once-respectable political party is finally speeding up, but political inertia is still providing drag. Meanwhile, the damage being done to America is enormous. Today’s Republicans have demonstrated that they cannot govern, but they can–and have–brought governance to a halt, delaying and/or killing critical legislation.
The only thing that will accelerate the death of the GOP and the creation of a substitute center-right party is a massive loss in November.
I’m impatiently waiting…