Turning the Good Ship GOP

Along the lines of turning the GOP ship off the 2012 course, lots of reasons why it might not be that easy. TPM Reader RY points to one key reason …

It’s revealing to note how often RNC members make news by uttering nutty, culturally anxious remarks. I’m sure TPM could call up a large number of such stories it has posted during the Obama years. (It might be an interesting exercise to do just that.)

By contrast, you rarely read analogous stories about DNC members. I cant remember such a story, in fact. I suspect that this was true even during the time when Democrats were most angry at George W Bush.

Why is this? My hypothesis is simple: the RNC closely represents the ultra-reactionary/cultural rage and resentment of the GOP’s elderly white base, and that the differences between the fundamentalist and libertarian wing of this base are vastly overstated. State based RNC members–including state RNC chairs–faithfully reflect the authoritarian populist positions of most Republicans across a wide range of issues, be they social, economic, or national security. The hallmark is not a policy position, per se (In fact, Republicans, outside of a few isolated conservative wonks, don’t seem interested in promoting public policy.) Rather, a paranoid, fearful affect permeates the rhetorical structure of all these stories. Thus what’s salient is an alleged leftist effort to undermine normative America, whether it be faking gay marriages or a massive conspiracy in Benghazi. Today, there is no analogous radical cohort within the Democratic Party that receives the attention and support of party officials.

This “new GOP” thing is going to be very difficult to pull off. The rabid remarks of so many RNC members are an accurate reflection of a party which does not wish to change. Indeed, these rants aren’t news at all to most Republicans. They are just common sense expressions of a deeply held world view.