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By all current measures it seems increasingly certain that Mitt Romney is going to lose the 2012 Presidential election and there is some possibility that with his continual gaffes and flailing and "candid remarks," he loses pretty big.  For most of us, the prospect of an Obama victory, especially following the 2010 debacle and four years of Republican obstructionism will be extra sweet.

We also know that winning the Presidency is only half the battle because without continued control of the Senate and either large gains or (please please) outright victory in the House, the prospects for continued turmoil and stalemate for a second term seem equally likely.

But there is another battle which will begin shortly, driven in large part by the likely outcome of the Presidential race and that is the battle over which branch of the current GOP assumes control from election day forward -- the traditionalists or the hard conservatives.  It is a battle which is already shaping up, and by all indications it is going to be lengthy and nasty.  Get some popcorn and head south of the orange slurpy logo for more perspective.

First, following a Romney loss, there is going to be the obvious outcry from the most conservative wing...evangelicals, Tea Partiers, Paulites:  

Romney was not really our choice.  He didn't truly believe in our cause and he could not/would articulate our philosophy.

(Amazingly, many from this sector think what Mitt said in the infamous 47% tapes was the message he should be promoting full bore and that doing so would make him a winner and not a loser.)  They also seem convinced that if only Ryan were unleased (and ideally running for the top spot) things would be a lot different.

On top of that, add the fact that the "traditional GOP"....and I would identify that as the Boehner, McConnell, Rove branch, is now well and truly detested by the far right.  You could see it in Huckabee's famous e-mail to his supporters in the wake of the traditional GOP's frantic efforts to cut Aikin off at the knees.  

Huckabee was royally frosted at what he saw as bullying tactics by GOP operatives unnamed:

Who ordered this "Code Red" on Akin? There were talking point memos sent from the National Republican Senatorial Committee suggesting language to urge Akin to drop out.

Political consultants were ordered to stay away from Akin or lose future business with GOP committees.

Operatives were recruited to set up a network of pastors to call Akin to urge him to get out.

Money has changed hands to push him off the plank.

It is disgraceful. From the spotlights of political offices and media perches, it may appear that the demand for Akin’s head is universal in the party. I assure you it is not.

There is a vast, but mostly quiet army of people who have an innate sense of fairness and don't like to see a fellow political pilgrim bullied. If Todd Akin loses the Senate seat, I will not blame Todd Akin. He made his mistake, but was man enough to admit it and apologize. I'm waiting for the apology from whoever the genius was on the high pedestals of our party who thought it wise to not only shoot our wounded, but run over him with tanks and trucks and then feed his body to the liberal wolves.

It wasn't just Todd Akin that was treated with contempt by the thinly veiled attack on Todd Akin. It was all the people who have faithfully knocked doors, made calls, and made sacrificial contributions to elect Republicans because we thought we were welcome in the party. Todd Akin owned his mistake. Who will step up and admit the effort being made to discredit Akin and apologize for the sleazy way it's been handled?

And yet, even with all those behind-the-scenes bully tactics to try and get Aikin to quit after his infamous quotes on women and rape, the traditional GOP was absolutely and totally helpless as Aikin held a press conference to effectively stick a finger in their eye and tell them, " You may think you can dump me, but I'm here, I beat your wishy-washy candidate in the primary and I am on a mission for myself and my backers, and you can't make me go away."

And he is not alone.  The Ron Paul wing of the party spent months during the primaries digging into the GOP rules and used them better than anybody to buttress their strength in terms of delegates to the GOP convention last month.  They wound up with more reps than the primary elections had awarded them, but they did it using the GOP's own rules.  And what did the "traditional" GOP do....they simply ignored the rules at the convention and cut the Paulite delegates off at the  knees.  That did NOT win the GOP leaders any friendship points with this wing of the far right.

And you can see the far right already gearing up for the blame game:  

Talking Points Memo quoted Bryan Fischer of American Family Association thusly:  

“If Barack Obama wins this election, the Republican Party as we know it is finished, it is dead, it is toast — you can stick a fork in it,” he told TPM Friday at the Values Voter Summit in Washington. “And conservatives, grassroots conservatives, are either going to start a third party or they are going to launch a hostile takeover of the Republican Party.”
Santo Ingrilli posted a message on a "Tea Party Perspective" blog entitled...Dear GOP Establishment...don't #&*% this up!
Yesterday's attempted power play by the GOP establishment is a stark reminder of how much work conservatives need to still do to gain the relevancy we deserve within our own ranks.  Though I understand the Romney’s campaign desire to show a united front at the convention, they should achieve that unity by convincing people not by silencing them.

It is also a reminder of how the GOP throughout its history, has grabbed defeat from the clutches of victory.  What kind of people look at 2010 election results and say to themselves, “What can we do to piss off our grassroots people”?  It is as if 2010 didn’t even happen.  Well it did and it is time for the GOP to understand that we are here and we are here to stay.

You see to the Republican Party, the Tea Party is truly a double-edged sword.  We force them to campaign and vote farther to the right then many of them are comfortable doing.  They know our movement, especially in the primary season, has great power in determining winners and losers.  We have put the RINOS on notice and they hate that we hold them to a higher standard.

And you want it REALLY spelled out?  Let Rushbo do it for you:
"So the base of the Republican Party, the voters, have been bottling up for 25 years, a resentment -- an anger, if you will -- that their own party won't fight for them, won't fight for itself, won't fight for what's right. So when Newt gets teed up with these questions from Juan Williams and John King and whoever else and simply says what they've been thinking for 25 years, they say, "Finally!" What they want right now is fight-back, what they want is push-back, what they want is kick-back, what they want is smack-down! What they want is for these people who have been laughing at them and mocking them and impugning them, put in their place.

"They're tired of the cultural rot taking place in the country. They're tired of the incessant growth of government and spending. They're tired of it, and they're frustrated as they can be that members of their own party who get elected can't seem to articulate their own passions. Politics is about passion, and the Republican Party doesn't seem to have it! "

And more Rush:
"The only problem is, right now Romney's not running a conservative campaign. But they're gonna set it up to say, "Well, the right sat home," or, "The right made Romney be other than who he is." They'll try to deflect the blame, but they got who they want."
In conclusion, I see a couple of options here....either the hard right takes over the GOP, or alternatively, it splits off and forms a third party, thus dividing and crippling the traditional party.  As long as they and the GOP continue to ignore the shifting demographics of the American electorate and cling to the belief that if they can just get their true ideology across, they will ride to victory, it is going to be a bitter conflict between the two sides.  

One way or the other, I think the GOP as we know it is headed for a brutal restructuring or collapse.  What about you?


What is the Future of the GOP Following a Romney Loss?

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Comment Preferences

  •  How about "Hard right takes control, loses big, (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:

    splits off to form 3rd party, followed by upsurge in Green Party, and in the ensuing gridlock the country goes bankrupt and the planet turns into a hellhole"?

    "I was a big supporter of waterboarding" - Dick Cheney 2/14/10

    by Bob Love on Thu Sep 20, 2012 at 11:48:33 AM PDT

  •  I've been waiting... (18+ / 0-)

    ...for twenty years for the GOP to implode.  I wish they would get on with it.

    It's constitutional, bitches.

    by KTinOhio on Thu Sep 20, 2012 at 11:50:16 AM PDT

  •  :o) (4+ / 0-)

    I'm just looking forward to Ted Nugent either being dead or in jail!  Not that I wish death on anyone but those were his words.  As Bubba would put it "HA HA HA!"

  •  You linked to TPM, and I wonder if you saw (5+ / 0-)

    the most recent post about what Sen. Schumer said. Josh Marshall didn't put much stock into Schumer's claims:

    Yeah, Right

    Chuck Schumer says mainstream Republicans plan to retake party if Romney loses.

    Not that I think they didn’t tell him that or even that they didn’t mean it. But c’mon.
                                                            --Josh Marshall

    I have to agree with Marshall on this one. I don't think the mainstream GOP was prepared for the Tea Party wing of their party. The idea was to rile them up and get them to vote for GOP candidates. They were never supposed to actually run and win seats themselves. Now they have a mess on their hands ... pulling the GOP further and further right.

    “Mitt Romney is the only person in America who looked at the way this Congress is behaving and said, ‘I want the brains behind THAT operation.’ ” — Tom Perriello

    by hungrycoyote on Thu Sep 20, 2012 at 11:53:54 AM PDT

    •  I did see the Schumer piece at TPM (4+ / 0-)

      I too am rather leery of that prediction, not that I don't think Schumer is a generally astute observer.  But GOP cooperation is rarely honored in the breech of late.

      However, it seems to me that one element is going to be just how badly the incumbent and first-time wingnut GOP candidates fare in November.  Will it be a crushing rout of them and their ideology (whether voters are after them personally for their idiocy or just bashing anyone wearing the GOP/Romney/Ryan label).

      I think it almost impossible for the Dems to compile a cloture proof Senate majority and that still leaves plenty of room for conservatives to work their mischief.

      Rumor has it that Harry Reid is ready to move on cloture reform, but old traditions die hard in the Senate and Senators know that while cloture is a bitch when you are trying to pass legislation you want, it is a bully weapon when you are trying to block bills you don't want, or have been paid enough to cripple or kill.

      Remember...everyone is going to return to DC after the elections and all will already be thinking about 2016 with a clean slate for candidates from both sides.

      The conservatives are clearly going to feel that Romney betrayed them....that he was not truly one of them...never fully drank the Kool Aid and was an awful representative of their cause.  If they can just find the RIGHT candidate (and poor Paul Ryan would likely be an ideal one in their minds) they can they need to get control of the party which has used them and discarded them like a one-night stand.

      They don't comprehend that their philosophy is NOT one that will win over the American electorate....they just think it wasn't spelled out right.  And they will of course blame the liberal media for not letting them get their message across.

      Overall, I would be surprised if Schumer's view turns out to work.

      Free markets would be a great idea, if markets were actually free.

      by dweb8231 on Thu Sep 20, 2012 at 12:07:14 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

    •  schumer is a VERY smart politician. (4+ / 0-)

      He's just trying to stir up shit between the GOP factions.

      "A squid eating dough in a polyethylene bag is fast and me?" - Don Van Vliet

      by AlyoshaKaramazov on Thu Sep 20, 2012 at 12:12:29 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

  •  I have been saying the same thing (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    hungrycoyote, Quicklund, ParkRanger

    but I am looking at it a bit differently.

    There are 2 important things in politics; one is money and I can't remember what the other one is - Mark McKenna.
    So, you have to wonder whether it's the money guys in the GOP who are seeing the Tea Party as a millstone around their necks. I have to believe that people like Steve Schmidt would be happy to see the end of  those TP clowns. There may be a split but it may not be the TP splitting off. Or if it is, the rest of the Party would happily wave goodbye. Either way, the GOP is heading into a long stay in the wilderness.

    For if there is a sin against life, it consists perhaps not so much in despairing of life as in hoping for another life and in eluding the implacable grandeur of this life. - Albert Camus

    by Anne Elk on Thu Sep 20, 2012 at 11:56:40 AM PDT

    •  Hmmm, we said the same thing after 1964. (0+ / 0-)

      And "a long stay in the wilderness" lasted ... four whole years. Just sayin.

      •  Things do blow up, for sure. (0+ / 0-)

        But there is a demographic dimension to the Republican decline and such factors run long and slow. Both Parties have assembled great, long-lived coalitions since 1860, the Republicans after the civil war and the Democrats after the Great Depression. The recent Republican strength has come from an alliance between northern business and southern bigots, more or less, that was directed against 2 key enemies: labor and minorities. But that coalition is weakening for a few reasons, not the least of which is just declining numbers. A coalition disproportionately white and older is going anywhere but down. The question for Democrats, I think, is how do we build an enduring coalition of our own that doesn't merely rely on the failure of the Republican model. It is possible for there to be no commanding coalition and for both parties thus to fail at ruling a diverse nation. Obama's legacy will hopefully be the emergence of such an enduring coalition.

        For if there is a sin against life, it consists perhaps not so much in despairing of life as in hoping for another life and in eluding the implacable grandeur of this life. - Albert Camus

        by Anne Elk on Thu Sep 20, 2012 at 03:40:26 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

  •  "They're tired of the cultural rot taking place in (10+ / 0-)

    this Country" Rush Limbaugh

    Rush, they ARE the cultural rot taking plac in this country

  •  What party has Fischer been watching? (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    glitterscale, Quicklund, ParkRanger
    And conservatives, grassroots conservatives, are either going to start a third party or they are going to launch a hostile takeover of the Republican Party.
    The hard right has already taken over the Republican party.  The oligarchs are still funding it, but the wingnuts have taken over the messaging.  Mitt Romney is the perfect exemplar of  this development:  an actual living, breathing plutocrat pandering to the worst mouth-breathers on his side.

    I suspect what is likely to happen is that the oligarchs will reinvest in Blue Dogs to try to maintain control of the Democratic party, which would seem to be the safer horse to be on for the next few election cycles.  Democrats already look like mid-70's Rockefeller Republicans, which should suit the billionaires just fine as long as their interests are catered to.

    Possibly we'll end up with a center-right Democratic party, a Bircher type Conservative party, and hopefully a Labor party on the left.  The center party would then form coalitions with whichever of the ideological parties was stronger.  

    For the love of money is the root of all evil; and while some have coveted after it, they have erred from the faith and pierced themselves through with many sorrows. (1 Timothy 6:10)

    by Dallasdoc on Thu Sep 20, 2012 at 11:57:08 AM PDT

  •  Chuck Schumer has helped this meme. (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    hungrycoyote, Quicklund

    Chuck Schumer said today that the Mainstream GOP has assured them that they will throw off the Tea Party and be stronger.

    This is going to make the Tea Party angry and distrust the mainstream GOP all the more. It will also confirm something in their little tiny minds that they can not trust the mainstream GOP. Just like Lush Rimbaugh says in your quote.

    I think Kossacks can also help out the rift by becoming a voice for the Tea Party to control the campaign direction right now. All the campaign directions. I think that we should encourage the wing nuts to take over the microphone right now.

    This is political jujitsu and it is a win for us. If we can help dismantle the GOP as totally as possible from within, it will be more permanent.

    You only live once, but if you do it right, once is enough. -Mae West

    by COwoman on Thu Sep 20, 2012 at 11:59:10 AM PDT

  •  there are three wings to the party. (4+ / 0-)

    the establishment which I'll call the fiscal conservatives (FiCons); the base, which I'll call the social conservatives (SoCons); and the Paulites, which are neither of the above and I'll call the Libertarian Conservatives (LibCons).

    The Paul wing of the party can never fit in either of the others. Their anti-war position will never do with the FiCons (who are also neocons) and their less than fascistic positions on gay people and drugs will never do for the SoCons. The Paul wing MAY make inroads among young liberals if the Democratic Party and Obama have a bad next four years. whether they'll garner enough from the liberals to actually have numbers is unknown. I doubt it because there is a breakdown once you get past gay people and weed and war. And the differences are very stark.

    As for the the SoCon - FiCon split, i think it's inevitable. The baggers just aren't going to take it anymore and I think they have the financial wherewithal to compete with the FiCons. Collectively they have the money to do it, whereas the FiCons the money is all concentrated at the top. Yes, there's a lot of it, but the GOP SoCon base is pretty big. Virtually all the southern states. FiCons get New Englanders and the West coast but that leaves a lot of room for fundraising and organization in the SoCon camp. And, unlike the FiCons who have NO LOVED ICONS, the SoCons have them galore: santorum, palin, huckabee the list of SoCons is endless.

    As for me? I'm buying popcorn.

    For the record, I am not a member of Courtesy Kos. Just so you know. Don't be stupid. It's election season. My patience is short.

    by mdmslle on Thu Sep 20, 2012 at 12:01:07 PM PDT

  •  4th option: "Nothing changes". (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    a2nite, Theodore J Pickle, Quicklund

    The GOP still has a top-down hierarchical structure.  I think it's kind of telling that Republicans almost uniformly are starting to turn away from Romney and rationalize his defeat.  Some explicitly, but most silently.  Same story with Todd Akin.  Yes a handful of GOP groups spoke up in his defense, but for the most part they rejected him publicly, while just forging ahead and incorporating his beliefs into the party platform.  The party discipline is still holding together fairly strongly.  The problem is that these groups seem divided over which public face to show.  That's just an issue of optics.  The organs are still functioning.

    The social conservatives continue to control social policy.  The big money, continues to have its way on economic policy.  And the two work together to win elections, with the big money calling the shots, and the social conservatives falling in line with only a few exceptions.

    The only real alternative is that the Big Money abandons the social conservatives and tries to capture the Dem party and marginalize the more progressive party base.  The problem there is that they took out a bunch of the blue dogs in 2010, so there are fewer escape routes.

    Ultimately, I think the GOP loses relevance because of demographic shifts, and then some new party or a revived GOP repositions itself in 12-18 years.  I'm not entirely sure how this is going to play out, but in order to have a crack up you need to have big factions fighting publicly.  Right now, the fights that are becoming public are more a case of the party rejecting one or two public masks (politicians), but not fundamentally changing.  The party thinks it is struggling because it hasn't found the correct mask (e.g. that it simply has a PR problem).  The problem is that it doesn't realize that people are starting to smell the rotting corpse beneath the mask -- that it has more fundamental problems.

    I think it's going to continue on its current trajectory.  If it losses the House, Senate, and the Presidency, then things might get a little crazy.  If Romney losses, however, I think the thing holds together.

    •  Your scenario leaves out the Paulites (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:

      But it is reasonable to think that a party that never analyzed the problems that they caused for the US will never analyze problems caused by a candidate trying to breath life into a moribund philosophy.

      What is more pertinent for us is will the dems be able to capitalize on some golden opportunities here or will they, as they usually do, f*ck it up?

      American Television is a vast sea of stupid. -xxdr zombiexx

      by glitterscale on Thu Sep 20, 2012 at 01:49:27 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  The Paulites . . . (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:

        include a mix of supporters who have always been a bit outside of the GOP mainstream (e.g. the 500K or so voters in 2004 who voted for the Libertarian and Constitution parties instead of George W.).  There's another segment of younger voters whose first entry into politics was through involvement in the Paul campaign (e.g. the allegiance is to Paul, not the GOP).

        The departure of the Paulites might break off and form a third party, but I don't think it would damage the GOP much since these are people largely on the fringes of the GOP's coalition.

        The Dems need to capitalize, sure.   The burden is on us to keep finding ways to support "More and better Democrats" though.  I think the Dems capitalized on some opportunities in 2008 -- the health care law may be a compromise, but it could be a significant one.

  •  There will be no third party (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    a2nite, Theodore J Pickle, Quicklund

    The conservative Republicans aren't that dumb. A third party on the right gives control to the Dems just as a third party on the left would give control to the GOP. This isn't hard to understand.

    "let's talk about that"

    by VClib on Thu Sep 20, 2012 at 12:13:05 PM PDT

  •  "Lets get rrrrrready to stumble!" (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    KenBee, Hey338Too, Quicklund
  •  The Republican Party is too valuable a brand (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:

    for it to fragment or implode. If Romney has a very, very bad time over the next few weeks he will still get 50 million votes (in 2008 131 M votes were cast, and about the either major candidate can do is about 40%).

    Think about starting a new party. How would you get to 50 million votes? In 1992 Perot got under 20 million; in 2000 Nader got under 3 million. Those were the best recent third party presidential candidates, and neither of them came close to the worst major party candidates.

    The Republicans have an organization in every state and most counties, cities, and other subdivisions. How would you go about duplicating that? The Tea Party has noisy partisans in many of those places, but they don't have the organization or official acceptance.

    Their situation is similar to what happened to the Democrats in the 1980s. Candidates were under constant pressure from the left (Jesse Jackson, for example) and couldn't afford to adopt centrist positions. We suffered through three terrible presidential campaigns. In 1992 Clinton wrestled the party back to the center and forged a new winning coalition. We have been in contention in every presidential race since then.

    I think that what will happen to the Republicans is that they will find a centrist of some sort who will lead them back. Probably the establishment thought that Romney was that guy. They will find a governor from a pale blue state who can play both sides- somebody like Christy or Jeb Bush. It may take a few more tries before they get it down, though.

  •  Excellent topic & essay & Traditional GOP wins (0+ / 0-)

    By now I am a broken record, but here goes again anyway.

    Jon Huntsman clearly has bet on this very restructuring period taking place. He campaigned this year to build name recognition for 2012. This is an old tactic. But how did he campaign?

    He said climate change is real and important. He knows what evolution is. He refused to pander to the crazy. He campaigned as a thinking Republican moderate. I reckon he is banking on a Tea Party collapse. Then he will be well-positioned to pick up the pieces as 'the man who saw it coming'.

    A Romney blowout loss will ensure he bet correctly on the restructuring phase. Time will tell if Amb Huntsman can pick up the pieces for his party. But the restructuring is coming.

    I feel much of the crazy is a manifestation of the Southern Strategy in it death throes. Like a wounded beast, the Tea Party generation is lashing out in rage as it perceives its time has come. The GOP is going to go through an upheaval it has not seen since AuH2O in '64.

    That is if Romney loses in a landslide. If it is not a landslide the Southern Strategy might limp on for a cycle or two more. But Mitch McConnell and John Boehner are gone if President Obama is re-elected under any circumstances. They are the leaders of the Obstruction-Assures-Us-Victory bullshit. They will pay with their leadership positions.

    As for who wins in the upheaval... The Traditional GOP of course. These are the caretakers hired bu the GOP's 'owners', America's elites. The elites will always have a party because they would not be elite if they did not. But elites are few in number so they need allies to supply the voters.

    The only question is which voting blocks will the Traditional GOP ally with next. They will have to move to the center in order to break the death-spiral. I don't think they can just pander to one group any more and ignore everyone else like they did with the religious right.

    The Traditional GOP will 'win' because there is no GOP w/o the elites. The religious right might form a 3rd party for a cycle or two. But this will go extinct and the demoralized remnants will come back to the GOP. There is no where else for them to go.

    A 3rd party appearing for awhile is consistent with the scale of upheaval likely to happen. But like the Tea Party members themselves, it will soon die out.

  •  The more energy they spend on infighting (0+ / 0-)

    the better I like it.  Past that, I have no idea what the GOP will do if they lose.

    They might have trouble if they win.  The plutocrats providing the money want to loot the Treasury and they don't care about the deficit or the social issues so dear to the base.  A GOP sweep would bring its own set of conflicts for them.  With no Obama to obstruct they might actually need to govern.  After a fashion.

    Anyone who ever knew fear and want knows Romney is talking about him..

    by docterry on Thu Sep 20, 2012 at 02:45:28 PM PDT

  •  If I May . . . (0+ / 0-)

    Quicklund is quite correct.

    If 2008 was a repudiation of the GOP mainstream (and it was; I know Republicans), then it was inevitable that the radical wing of the Party would want to try.  The 2010 by-election gave them a taste of blood, and now they want more.  Hence Romney's efforts to make himself into what he's not.

    If Romney loses and the Tea Party Wing gets trashed, the GOP mainstream will reassert itself and seize power once again.  We saw it in 1964 after Goldwater got beaten like a gong by LBJ, and in 1972 after McGovern had his ass handed to him by Nixon (the center-right of the Dems booted Jean Westwood out and replaced her with Robert Strauss).

    So, if Romney should lose this (and particularly if the Senate remains in Democratic control, and the GOP loses the House), the GOP will dissolve for a few months into an orgy of bloodletting that will make the Night of the Long Knives look like a church social.  

    Best guess at this point is that some Tea Partiers will likely jump ship for the Libertarians, along with a few of the Paulites.  But, and I'd like to stress this, I don't see the GOP swinging even further to the Right.  Further radicalization will not work as a viable rationale; the Republicans might end up being marginalized for at least the next election cycle.

    So pass the popcorn.  I consider politics to be street theater, and I cannot WAIT to see the debates.

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