In 2009, Daily Kos, one of my favorite political blogsites, even put up a color picture of the red, white and blue Republican elephant logo turned into a dinosaur. The new critter was “The Goposaur.” (I saw a "Goposaur" on Daily Kos again the other day.)
While other lefties prophesied the GOP's doom, I was more than a tad worried that they were caught up in wishful thinking. History, the subject I teach, plainly shows that both big parties can rebound from drubbings.
I remember 1968 and 1976. In 1964, LBJ clobbered Barry Goldwater. I was just 14, but I joined grownup Democrats in gleefully dubbing the election “Goldwaterloo.”
Four years later, I cast my first presidential vote for Hubert Humphrey, who is still one of my all-time favorite Democrats. Nixon won.
In 1976, we got the White House back with Jimmy Carter.
In 2009, we got the tea party. In 2010, we got Speaker Boehner, and we’re still stuck with him and a Republican-majority house, though we've whittled down their numbers.
Don't get me wrong. I fervently hope I’m off base in sweating a GOP comeback. Yet I don’t see the Republicans going the way of the dinosaurs, at least not any time soon.
Part of the lefty argument that the Republicans are on the road to extinction is based on the idea of imminent civil war between the country clubbers and the not-so-well-heeled tea party-types.
The same lefty prognostications of GOP internecine strife popped up after Obama won in 2008.
Oh, there is some intramural sniping and skirmishing in the GOP. That's natural when you lose an election.
But the carping is mostly over style, not substance. I haven’t heard Boehner, Senate Minority Leader McConnell or the rest of the Republican establishment trashing the tea party or the tea-party-tilting, right-wing media echo chamber. That’s ditto for the self-exiled Mitt Romney.
The GOP bigwigs, most of them millionaires, know there aren’t enough other millionaires to elect them. So they’ll keep cozying with the Obama-is-a-gay-Kenyan-born-Islamo-Socialist-who-hates-America-Jesus-guns-and-white-people Caucasian crowd, most of whom don't live on Easy Street.
Most importantly, though, the country club Republicans and the tea party-types are in fundamental agreement on a key point: they despise government, especially the federal government -- except for the military.
They see the Democrats as the "government party."
Oh, the Republicans aren’t entirely anti-government. The GOP is way cool with Uncle Sam advancing their interests.
The 2012 Republican platform includes a call for Congress to help bust unions. The GOP wants a national right to work law, which would allow every American worker to freeload by enjoying union-won wages and benefits without joining the union or paying union dues. Meanwhile, the GOP is for state legislatures passing right to work laws.
The platform also endorses a constitutional amendment outlawing abortion. It contains no exceptions for rape or incest.
Still another plank backs state laws defining marriage as between a man and a woman. Some Republicans also favor a constitutional amendment to prevent gay people from getting married.
In other words, the Republicans are cool with Uncle Sam showing up in the bedroom, just not the boardroom.
At the same time, some Republican Christians of the Jesus-loves-me-but-He-can't-stand you persuasion think it's dandy to wed their church to our state. They want a constitutional amendment declaring the United States a Christian nation.
So it doesn’t matter what Republicans mean by “getting government off our backs.” Their enemy is government, period. Country clubbers and tea partiers both pine for an America mostly run by white folks, mainly by white men but with exceptions for the likes of Sarah Palin and Michele Bachmann and for rare minority reactionaries like former Congressman Allan West and Sen-elect Ted Cruz.
Make no mistake, I’d love to see the right-wing crazies start their own party. That really would doom the GOP. But I suspect most of them will take a lesson from the Puritans of old who, unlike the Pilgrim few, opted to stay in the Church of England to “purify” it from within.
Again, I’d love to eat my words and feast on crow and humble pie. But from the front stoop of my old Kentucky home, I see the GOP as down again, but not out.