If you step back, set ideology and partisan politics aside and take an honest view of the political landscape; one could easily come to the conclusion that we are witnessing the end of the Republican Party.
On January 17 Congress returns to take up the people’s business. Republicans may control the House and Democrats the Senate; but make no mistake; in the eyes of the people Republicans control Congress. Handed control of the House chamber in 2010, Republicans believed they had a mandate to block the efforts of a Democratic President. But they misread the signs and fumbled the opportunity placed in their laps. Their intransigent ideology and divisive rhetoric left a bad taste in the mouths of the voters. When Congress adjourned for the holiday recess they had a 9% approval rating among the American people. Paris Hilton, Hugo Chavez, Manuel Noriega and Communism ranked higher. At the same time Republican enemy #1, Barak Obama, enjoyed the support of 49% of the citizens. The American people are not happy with the way government is responding to their problems; and by any measure they blame the Republicans.
Now the election season starts. Once again Republicans are handed an opportunity. The weak economy has left the President vulnerable; and a strong candidate with the right message could win the White House, deliver the Senate and secure the House majority for the Republicans.
But the best the Republicans have to offer will not enter the race. Jeb Bush, Chris Christie, Mitch Daniels, Mile Pence and Haley Barbour; all credible candidates who could certainly go toe to toe with this President, declined to serve. Perhaps they didn’t want to tackle an incumbent President with a 49% approval rating. Perhaps they didn’t want to involve themselves in the Washington food fight. Whatever the reason, the best of the best said no leaving Republicans with a collection of flawed candidates to carry the torch.
And so the parade began. The party trotted out a gaggle of pretenders and offenders; some more interested in book deals than solving the nation’s problems. Palin, Trump, Cain and Bachmann were all trumpeted by the Republican base; but none was ever a serious candidate for the office. Tim Pawlenty got in but just as quickly got out. Nobody cared.
So the race continues with Huntsman, Gingrich, Paul, Perry, Romney and Santorum.
Paul is a Libertarian who consistently gets 20% of the vote and likes to throw bombs at the Republican establishment. He will never win the nomination. But with these new rules of proportional delegate assignment he will make a mess of the Republican convention. Should he choose to run as a third party candidate any hope of seeing a Republican in the White House will be crushed.
Santorum blew whatever momentum he had coming out of Iowa when he shouted down two underage girls at a town hall meeting. Perry has money. But his stumbling and bumbling remind voters of another Texas Republican whose name is never mentioned by the candidates.
Gingrich is a time bomb. Blessed with an infusion of $5 million dollars by a supportive Super Pac Gingrich squandered the financial windflaw. Rather than use the funds to promote his ideas and attack the President; Gingrich chose to attack Romney’s use of the basic tenants of capitalism and free enterprise.
Jon Huntsman is trying desperately to gain traction in South Carolina. But a recently released Public Policy Polling survey has him way down the list trailing Stephen Colbert by one percentage point: 5%-4%. Public Policy Polling is a legitimate opinion poll. Jon Huntsman is the former governor of Utah and the nation’s most recent Ambassador to China. Stephen Colbert is a satirist on Comedy Central…and not listed on the South Carolina ballot.
That leaves Republicans with the current frontrunner and presumptive winner…Mitt Romney. Romney will say anything to win. He has changed his opinion so many times on so many issues that for all Republicans know he may be closer to Obama than…Obama. Republicans hate him and have been trying to find someone…anyone…to replace him. The only real difference between Romney and the rest of the field is Romney has money…lots and lots of money; and in today’s political theater money talks.
The Republican Party is an absolute train wreck. Their congressional caucus is ruled by a small group of Tea Party radicals that would rather see the country suffer than compromise with the opposition. Their candidates for the presidential nomination are all seriously flawed. They have spent so much time vilifying each other that they have failed to lay out their vision for the country. Sound bites and catchy phrases won’t get it done.
The Republican Party is crumbling before our very eyes. The dysfunction of the Republicans in Congress is now spilling over into the campaign. If Republicans don’t find a way to coalesce around a central message that resonates within a very weary nation they may be reaching the end of their usefulness.
The voters will let them know if that time has come.