The Republican Party can keep this flying circus for longer than you might expect. PHOTO: Reuters
Many on the political center and left look at the Republican Party and think that this is insane, but it can’t possibly last. With the Republican Party being driven almost entirely by its most Tea Party wing, which insists on an ever-more conservative agenda, one figures that more and more voters will determine that the Republican Party has gone off the rails.
Maybe, but we’d be mistaken to doubt the malleability of the Republican Party and its voters. Both parties are adept at steering their voters toward the agenda determined by the party leaders, but the Republican Party is especially good at it. Personality tests show that conservatives are more likely to get behind their team and support them, and are more willing to look beyond their faults, while liberals are more critical, both of the other side and themselves. Think about how long it took liberals to start sniping at President Obama (when he made his first cabinet appointments) compared to how long it took the Republican Party to get sick of President Bush (after his second election when he tried to privatize social security). When liberals say that the Republican Party is going to burn out on Tea Party rage within a few years, they are thinking like liberals, not conservatives.
While personality differences are one factor insulating the Republican Party, the conservative media world and gerrymandering are two more. Regardless of how nutty the Republican Party gets, you will never learn about it from Fox News and Rush Limbaugh, who will always find a way to blame the uncompromising Obama, nutty Nancy Pelosi, and boring yet evil Harry Reid. There are enough conservative media sources (the Heritage Foundation, Forbes, even Politico reinforces a lot of conservative talking points) to create an ecosystem that one never needs to leave.
Gerrymandering is another force insulating the Republican Party. Republicans outnumber Democrats 233 to 200 in the House of Representatives, even though in the last election, more people voted for House Democrats than House Republicans. The lines are so cleverly drawn that almost no Republican Party members in the House have to worry about losing their seat to a Democrat for a while. 2020 is going to be an enormously important election year, because whoever is in control of a given state will have the opportunity to redraw district lines again.
By liberal and even centrist logic, the Republican Party can’t last like this, but they have made it this far, and who’s to say it won’t just keep going.