I have spent a lot of time reading about history, and it seems to me that we might be at a historic moment in history. I don't mean this decade, or this year. I mean this week, maybe this day, right now people are talking about something which is happening which will lead to the Republican party completely falling apart.
It's an unusual thing for a political party to die, but it is not impossible, nor is it unprecedented. At one time the Federalist party was one of the two political parties that ran things in this country. How often do you hear about them now?
Edited: I originally tried to post this article a week ago but had issues with the Daily Kos interface. I still find the post to be relevant.
The Federalist party swept to power in 1798. They attained their victory because France had attacked our ships abroad while it was locked in a struggle with Britain for dominance, and they decided that we should not be allowed to trade with Britain. The Federalists promoted conflict with France at a time when we were hardly a superpower.
Soon the Federalists had raised a provisional army as well as a heavy tax to pay for it, and then passed the Alien and Sedition acts, a law that gave jail terms to "any false, scandalous, and malicious" statement against the government or its officials. Twenty-five Republican editors of newspapers were prosecuted for disagreeing with the government. Ten of them were convicted and received both stiff fines and jail terms.
Thomas Jefferson was enraged by the direct assaults on the Bill of Rights which this law represented. He had previously talked of retiring to his home in Virginia, but he chose to run for President instead. His opponent Alexander Hamilton was attacked in the press for being a monarchist who had turned his back on the republican, and Jefferson was assaulted for being an atheist.
At the time, the Federalists were dominated by a group of arch-conservatives called the "Ultras." Today, we would likely call them neoconservatives. Though there was little chance of France attacking us at home, nonetheless they used fears of foreign powers to assault the constitution and commence a massive military buildup. Fascism or movement in that direction usually occurs because of fear more than a desire for conquest, at least on the part of the population at large. The people riding the wave produced by that fear can, of course, ride that wave in any direction they choose.
Though Hamilton had campaigned on defending the United States from France, it wasn't long before he spoke in public of leading his freshly raised army on expeditions of conquest into Spanish held Florida and Louisiana, or even into Central and South America.
The nation was still young, and the ways that elections would be run hadn't been fully settled yet. For instance, two candidates were put on the ballot, either of whom could be elected President. The constitution held that the 138 members of the Electoral College cast two votes for President. If the vote was tied, or no majority was held, then the House of Representatives "shall chuse by Ballot one of them for President."
Thomas Jefferson and Aaron Burr each received exactly 73 votes. This resulted in a dangerous situation as both men who ran on the same ticket for President competed with one another. Finally James Bayard, the lone congressman from Delaware settled the matter when he abstained and gave the victory to Jefferson.
Three years later, Aaron Burr killed Alexander Hamilton in a duel.
In time, Federalists became totally unelectable. After Jefferson came to power, it was possible to speak ill of them in the press and the actions taken by the Federalists came to be disfavored by the entire population to the point that they simply could not be elected any more.
This week, John Boehner attempted to retain his own power by floating a deal that he knew the President would not sign, and the Senate would not sign. It was a proposal sent out for effect, even though the nation needed him to be realistic. His own party refused to go along with it, which signals a challenge to Speaker Jim Boehner's position in the near future. It also quite possibly may be one of the final events to the Republicans no longer being a viable political party.
It's been coming for awhile now, as business minded Republicans struggled with people elected by uneducated idiots who think the greatest threat today is people with dark skin, a conflict they set into motion when they courted their vote.
I don't claim to have a crystal ball that shows me the future, but I think it's possible that in the coming years, the Republican party will split apart and simply become useless. That doesn't mean that the rich will lose power, they never do, but it may give us an opening that we need to fix what is going wrong now.
I hope that is true, because we need it. Today we fight over scraps when what is needed is an entire meal, and two parties meeting in the middle will never arrive at it.