Speaking as a Democrat — though a fairly disgruntled one of late (okay, an extremely disgruntled one of late) — I find myself looking ahead to the inevitable GOP gains in the mid-term elections with surprising ambivalence. On the one hand, I’m still enough of a partisan to want my team to win just for the sake of winning — sort the same way that as a KC Chiefs fan I want the Chiefs to win (and, yes, my life is filled with disappointments). Then there’s the fact that to elect a large number of the current batch of nuttier-than-a-fruitcake-on-steroids Republican candidates could do irreparable harm to the nation.
Still, it’s hard to avoid the feeling that stupidity of this magnitude deserves to be punished: and as counterintuitive as it may seem, there is no surer way to see to it that the GOP is punished than by giving it a modicum of power.
Without a doubt, the current GOP embrace of (or hostile takeover by) the Tea Party is the single most self-destructive action taken by a major political party in my memory — and I was around for the McGovern campaign in 1972. Hell, Ozzy Osbourne represents a paragon of virtuous self-restraint in comparison to the GOP’s headlong dive into disaster. Attacking Social Security? All but advocating armed insurrection? Calling for the abolition of the Environmental Protection Agency? Defending BP? That’s one hell of an agenda to take to Middle America.
And remember, it isn’t as though the public loves these dudes. Polls show the electorate as a whole doesn’t think much of the Tea Party – and that’s before they really have the chance to get to know them and experience the full flavor of their fanaticism. Over the long haul (and even the fairly short haul), embracing these hardliners is suicide for the Republicans. Yet that’s exactly what the GOP is doing. And if the Republicans end up doing well this year, which, given how angry the voters are, may well happen, they’ll end up embracing the extreme of the extreme even more in the future. And that could very well kill the party for a generation.
In truth, there’s one and only one hope left for the GOP, and that’s if they get their asses kicked in 2010. If that happens, they may do some soul searching, maybe even take a baby step or two back from the edge of the cliff. But if it doesn’t happen, and it probably won’t, God save the Grand Old Party.
For the sake of the nation, I still hope that the Democrats do better than predicted this year — but if they don’t, viewed from a purely political standpoint, it’s far from clear who the real loser will be long term.