Rebuilding The Republican Party

Jon Henke suggests transparency as an issue Republicans can use in attempts to rebuild the party:

Transparency is an area of genuine opportunity for progress right now, because (1) the majority party promised they would do it, and (2) the minority party has a political incentive to hold the majority to their promise.

However, as easy and obvious a policy as transparency seems, there are also two problems with it: (1) the majority now has a political disincentive to be transparent, and (2) the minority problem has no credibility to insist upon it.

Demanding more transparency is something I would expect the minority party to push for. It remains to be seen how well the Democrats will do at providing transparency as opposed to falling into the majority’s natural tendency to oppose it. Being a supporter of the checks and balances provided in a strong two party system I would like to see the Republicans make transparency an issue and keep the Democrats honest.

Unfortunately, as Henke even admits, the Republicans have no credibility on this issue. It was the Republicans who increased government secrecy when in office, and it was the Republicans who worked to weaken the checks and balances of our political system.

The problem faced by anyone who wants to rebuild the Republican Party is that they first must disassociate themselves from virtually everything the Republicans have done in recent years. I suspect that in most countries a party which has both taken such unpopular positions and has had as horrible a track record at governing as the GOP would find itself become a tiny minority party while another party would emerge to become the major opposition party (and possibly governing party in the future).

In the United States the current two party system is so firmly entrenched that we might face a prolonged period in which the Democrats govern and the Republicans are a weak party but no other opposition parties can develop meaningful strength.

While this is the most likely scenario, it is risky to make long term predictions in politics. We saw both with the political handling of 9/11 and with Katrina that unforeseen events can rapidly change the political landscape. While we have not had a major change in the major political parties for well over a century the changing politics of the internet might allow a new opposition party to win should the Democrats fail and voters be too smart to return to the Republicans.

There is even the outside chance that the Republicans might even be able to embrace a new set of issues which allows them to win, but that will be difficult unless current Republicans are replaced by new members who do not share the extremist views currently dominating the party.

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3 Comments

  1. 1
    Robert Wheelock says:

    The only reason the Republicans are no longer in power is because they have grown to liberal. Obama did not win by a landslide. He owes and has promised a lot of people, a lot of different things, someone will be disappointed. If you think the Republicans are extreme now, wait until we return to the White House.
    Sincerely,
    A far right winger

  2. 2
    Ron Chusid says:

    Keep thinking that the Republicans lost because they were too liberal. That will guarantee that they never recover. There is certainly the danger that if the Republicans return to power they will be even more extreme. Many voters fear this–which will also making it hard for the Republicans to recover unless they can convince people they have moved away from the extremes.

    Obama won by the largest margin of any first term president since Eisenhower, which is why people beyond the extreme right wing are describing it as a landslide.

    Obama was actually fairly cautions in his promises by the standards of politicians, but you are right that people will be disappointed. The problems the Republicans face is that they are so extreme that many people will still stick with any Democrat rather than risk returning the Republicans to power.

    Either the Republicans will either have to move away from an extremist platform which is counter to the principles this country was founded upon and a majority hold, or they risk going the way of the Whigs. The United States is unlikely to risk allowing the authoritarian right to return to power, especially when they showed that despite their authoritarianism they were inept in running a government. Republicans are like little Mussolini’s who cannot even keep the trains running on time.

  3. 3
    nomoreGOP says:

    Robert,

    it’s “too” liberal.

    and actually thats all I need to say. you aren’t even worth arguing with.

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