One does not have to be a partisan Democrat or left-leaning liberal to see that the Republicans of 2009 have lost their way. Stung by the electoral victory of Barack Obama and the firm hold of the Democrats on the House and Senate, the Republicans are in a funk, but worse yet they are behaving badly.
When the Grand Old Party is led by Rush Limbaugh, a self-described radio entertainer with a skill for propaganda and demagoguery, the future of the party is in certain jeopardy. All the noise coming out of the Republicans is presented in the negative – No to this or that Obama initiative, bizarre hopes that he fails to get this country out of the depths, and simply weird displays of protest from calls to secede from the Union to poorly attended tea bag rallies against the Internal Revenue Service.
An obvious non-partisan question could easily be – where are the adults in the Republican Party? What happened to responsible loyal opposition and enlightened alternative policy prescriptions? All that the American public get is complaining, whining, doomsday predictions and oh yes, socialism. The leaderless Republicans have decided that the way to beat Obama and the Democrats in the next mid-year election is to predict that we will become Sweden. How utterly silly!
It is not unusual for a political party that has been in power either in the White House or in Congress since the Reagan years would lose its way and have a difficult time finding the right messenger. But what the Republicans have done since losing in the 2008 election is allow the fringe elements to control the destiny of the GOP and reject any mature efforts to find a centrist message that will attract the vast majority of mainstream Americans. Taking pride in supporting people who throw tea bags over the White House fence is not the way to build a mainstream political party.
At present less than one quarter of Americans identify as Republicans, which by any measure is not sufficient to make inroads in the 2010 election or transform Obama into a one term president. Becoming competitive again, however, will not be achieved by presenting the party as rigid, doctrinaire, ornery, vindictive, juvenile and a bit odd. If the Republicans maintain this current strategy, count on them to remain lost in the political woods.