If political history has taught us anything, it’s that politics is predictable over time. Sure, it seems exciting and new, but that’s only because the inevitable is punctuated by minor surprises and upsets.
Republicans today find themselves at a fork in the road that many political movements have reached. They face what I like to think of as the Nazi/Democrat juncture.
I shouldn’t have to explain much about the Nazis, but I want to point out a few things. The Nazi Party was a fully legitimate political movement, supported by normal, average, hard-working German people who voted their leaders into power in free and open elections. Well… sort of.
Nazis took advantage of every political ploy and loophole they could, and Adolf Hitler in particular is noted for having not won a very significant portion of the popular electorate (he only garnered 33% in 1933, after having been appointed as Chancellor).
Democrats in the US, on the other hand, have a very different history. Looking only at the post-Civil War political landscape, Democrats entering the 20th century were more like Republicans today in their overall outlook and message. If anything, saying such is very insulting to Republicans now, because Democrats were responsible for much worse than the Republican Party in the 21st century.
It was Democrats who formed the KKK (worse than the Tea Party). It was Democrats who lynched black people in the South (as opposed to racists now, who are lynched for saying “nigger”). It was Democrats who labeled anyone they didn’t like a “communist” (bringing them in for Senate hearings, not just calling them out on Fox News). It was Democrats who opposed racial equality (here we see some similarities… since both advocated for voter suppression).
Then something began to change, gradually at first, until 1968 when the whole political party underwent a transformation spurred by the exodus of conservative, southern racists from the party. It became initially apparent with the presidency of FDR and his economic reforms, and it came to a head with the presidencies of JFK and LBJ (what a great era to be alive… when presidents were just three little letters).
Republicans today find themselves in a situation where they have two paths. They can continue down the path they’re on, getting more extreme, angrier, and more fearful (and it will be a long, dismal path). Or, they can alienate the ignorant among them and do what needs to be done, ensuring the success of the party and nation as a whole.
Taking the Nazi route isn’t so much about atrocities. I don’t think Republicans will exterminate millions of people, but that isn’t the lesson the Nazis really teach a student of politics. The Nazis let their most extreme elements define them as a party, and in the process they put their country in the hands of people who ruined it in the name of principles that, frankly, aren’t all that noble.
The Nazi party doesn’t exist anymore, not in any real power-wielding capacity, anyway. That could be the route Republicans take. If Republicans continue to blindly believe their own bullshit, instead of doing what needs to be done, there’s won’t be a Republican Party by the time my [yet-to-be-conceived] kids are able to vote.
I don’t think this will happen, however. It is far more likely that the Republican Party will survive, it just won’t be recognizable as the Republican Party of today. Just as it might be hard for someone my age, born in 1983, to imagine Democrats standing in the way of black people trying to attend a school, it will probably be difficult to imagine Republicans in 2060 having been the party that discussed electrified border fences in 2012.
It’s not too hard to see the path Republicans will take, either. For years, I have questioned why it is that Republicans oppose immigration. It’s quite simple: Republicans oppose immigration to appeal to racists. It has nothing to do with the ideology of immigrants (or their Republican work ethic), for if it did, it would be Democrats opposing immigration.
Immigrants are more likely to be uneducated, socially conservative, religious, and basically not liberal. America may not be a bastion of liberalism, but the countries where most people immigrate (or escape) from are even more socially backward than the US (if you can believe that). Despite the best efforts of Democrats, it will be hard (if not impossible) to convince most immigrants that gay people should be allowed to marry, or that religion doesn’t have a place in the public discussion, or that abortion should remain legal.
Even minorities with a generational presence in America tend to fit the Republican social mold better than the average American of European descent. Black people in America are more likely to be religious and are more likely to oppose gay marriage and abortion, and Latinos are no different. And once they realize that Islam is basically Republicanism, the Religion… it might be all over for America’s freedom.
If Republicans begin to publicly rebuke its racists, the party will change in ways I can’t even predict, and perhaps don’t want to imagine. If I had to guess, I imagine the Republican platform on immigration will change dramatically, but I doubt most of its socially regressive views will be altered (as I think this is what will draw in new minority voters).
What makes this particularly difficult to predict is that one has to consider Democrats, because in the US we have only two parties. Take, for example, the 1960s. Nixon actively and openly courted the racist vote, going after disenfranchised former-Democrats and succeeding in bringing these “state’s rights” advocates into the party. Nixon all but single-handedly brought racists into the Republican fold (with an assist by the Democrats, who jilted them).
This was explained away with the myth that Reagan forged an alliance with the Religious Right. This was actually bullshit terminology invented to explain the influx of Southern racists into the Republican party, explaining the whole thing away euphemistically as “the rise of the Religious Right,” when we all know it was simply official that the Dixiecrats had gone completely Republican.
To know who Republicans will attract in the future, one must also know who the Democrats will ostracize. I wish in my heart of hearts that it might be the radical politically correct contingent, and I can almost wrap my head around how it could happen. After all, telling people how they can speak is pretty socially conservative, akin to telling people how they can dress, who they can love, and what they can do with their body. However, I just wish liberals would get rid of this useless group of whiners, and I find it very foolish to predict something because you wish it would happen.
What I think is more likely, and maybe a lot of people will disagree with me, is that socialists will leave the Democratic Party. Democrats have established themselves as not only a party that supports capitalism, but as one that supports the worst kinds of capitalism. I don’t think the Dems have thrown a bone to the economic left in my lifetime. It’s pretty much been Bill Clinton cutting welfare and Obama sucking Wall Street’s dick.
Any economically left-leaning individual with two brain cells to rub together is bound to say to themselves from time to time, “I don’t think Democrats represent me at all.” What I can see happening is that the Occupy Movement will be snubbed by the Democrats, and that they will take their youth and energy to whoever will listen to them. While it’s almost inconceivable, the only place for them to turn to is… the Republican Party.
And if Republicans lose in 2012, they might just be desperate enough to invite them in.