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Fri Feb 1, 2013, 11:30 AM

Obama Realigns, the GOP Declines: The New Political Paradigm - by Robert Shrum

by Robert Shrum Feb 1, 2013 4:45 AM EST

Karl Rove's prediction of a grand political realignment has finally come true—for Obama. Robert Shrum on the four tricks the GOP might use to wrest back control.

It’s a word seldom heard since Karl Rove brandished it after the 2004 election. On the basis of an Electoral College win secured by the precarious margin of one state, an Ohio rife with voter suppression, “Bush’s brain”—is that a compliment to Rove?—proclaimed an era of Republican realignment. It was short-lived, rebuked in 2006 when Democrats recaptured the House and the Senate—and refuted in 2008, when Barack Obama swept to a commanding victory across an expanded range of battleground states. After a last gasp in the 2010 midterms, in a time of acute economic distress, Rove’s fantasy was demolished in 2012, when the GOP waged a backward-looking campaign directed to the American electorate of a decade and more ago—two white, too old, too rural, too Southern.

Instead, the crabbed, plutocratic, intolerant Republican appeal did succeed—in mobilizing the new America, which convincingly voted for a second Obama term. But something more has happened here than the reelection of one president, as consequential as that is. We are witnessing a Rove in reverse—but this time, an authentic and accelerating realignment in the demography, ideology, and political identity of the American mainstream. And while Obama both reflects and reinforces the impetus to realign, the befuddled, hemmed-in GOP seems doomed to decline.

The shift from hardline bravado to postdefeat stress syndrome was signaled when the party reluctantly fled the potential political fallout of a Republican-inflicted economic crisis. Congressional Republicans backed off the fiscal cliff, surrendered the Bush tax cuts for the wealthy, and raised the debt ceiling rather than crashing financial markets and the full faith and credit of the United States. Paul Ryan has now conceded that the GOP won’t shut down the government to extort their preferred cuts in Social Security and Medicare—which they’re still trying to voucherize.

Following the tactical retreats of a party stubbornly clinging to its reactionary core, the president delivered his second inaugural address. Contrary to predictions that he would offer a collection of forgettable generalities, the speech was one of the great state papers in modern American history, boldly asserting political realignment without explicitly using the phrase. And it set off a great commotion in GOP ranks. Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell bashed its “liberalism”—the reflex epithet Republicans have long deployed as a weapon of instant damnation. House Majority Whip Kevin McCarthy told Fox’s Sean Hannity that Obama’s words showed “how out of touch he is.” Not since 1936, when FDR called for activist government to redress the shame of “one third of a nation ill-housed, ill-clad, ill-nourished,” has a second inaugural elicited such partisan vitriol. Across the board, Republicans squealed like stuck elephants.


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Reply Obama Realigns, the GOP Declines: The New Political Paradigm - by Robert Shrum (Original post)
DonViejo Feb 2013 OP
starroute Feb 2013 #1
MyshkinCommaPrince Feb 2013 #2

Response to DonViejo (Original post)

Fri Feb 1, 2013, 02:24 PM

1. What was that line about bitterness and clinging?

"And it's not surprising then they get bitter, they cling to guns or religion or antipathy to people who aren't like them or anti-immigrant sentiment or anti-trade sentiment as a way to explain their frustrations."

That's the GOP's problem in a nutshell. It isn't just a few people in small rural towns where all the jobs have disappeared. It's the entire party. And there's no easy way for them to give that up.

The GOP's real branding issue is not that they're trying to sell things like voucherizing Medicare as "entitlement reform." It's that they're trying to sell themselves as a party of happy, successful entrepreneurs -- with the implication that you could be one too, if you only vote Republican -- when the reality is that they're a party of the poor, the bitter, and the hopeless.

They're the "it's my party and I'll cry if I want to" party. And who wants to be a part of that?

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Response to DonViejo (Original post)

Fri Feb 1, 2013, 03:46 PM

2. Our opponents represent only negatives.

They've done so well at being the party of negation that they've backed themselves into a corner. They've broken one thing after another and found that the population isn't rejecting government altogether as a result, as we were supposed to. All they have is more and more extreme and absurd ways of saying "no", over and over. They've gone in a circle, perhaps, said "no" so often that they're trapped now in a place where they'll eventually have to start saying "yes" to something. Where else can their party go? They've repackaged repeatedly already, trying to pretend that going backwards was moving forwards. Hopefully our fellow citizens really have finally caught on to the game the RW has been playing.

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