Ever since their undeniable defeats in the 2012 elections, we have been hearing of a possible civil war within the GOP.
I bet for a lot of us, we didn't want to get our hopes up. I think a lot of us assumed that the more well-connected Republican core would be competent enough to handle the Tea Party monster. They were the Dr. Frankenstein that created it, after all. And if they couldn't control it, they had the power to rally the torch-bearing villagers and kill it off at any time.
After the recent shutdown drama, I think a lot of us have had those delusions evaporate.
And so now the likelihood of civil war seems so much more evident.
What most of the commentary on the civil war has focused on is that this is good for Democrats, and the question was a matter of how good would it be for Democrats.
But the questions I want to ask, if for nothing more than philosophical curiosity but also possible pragmatic long-term strategizing:
What will the Republican Party look like after the civil war plays out? Who will win, the Tea Party ideologues or the moderate establishment, or someone completely off the radar? What will it mean long-term, for politics and governing?
After all, whatever becomes of the Republican Party, it's still going to be a meaningful contender in elections at all levels, no matter how much damage it inflicts upon itself.
If the Tea Party wins, it could mean a more widespread rejection of Republicans at the polls, and more general Democratic Party success. It could also mean more Cruzes and Bachmanns representing the redlands, and we could see political intransigence on an unprecedented scale.
If the Establishment wins, we could have a more conventionally functioning government, a return to the good old days of hot dog politics (you want to enjoy it without knowing what went into it). But it would also be bad because....I can't think of anything specific, but you get the idea. pros and cons, right?
The question is, which pros outweigh which cons.
I want to see more wins for the Democratic Party. I'm tired of hearing and seeing all the ways Republicans have stood in the way of progress and innovation and empowerment. If it takes a civil war within the GOP to achieve this, then I am all for it. And if there's ways we can capitalize on the situation to maximize the outcome for us, all the better.
But, we should never lose sight of the realities of any given situation. A GOP civil war would be good for Democrats, but we should plan for all possible outcomes, to best maximize the outcomes. If a civil war cripples the GOP, we should be there to finish it off.
But if the GOP comes out of it a stronger, scarier Frankenstein monster, we should be ready with torches and pitchforks, too.