If the Republican Party were a publicly traded company, its stock would be at a 40 year low.
Republicans have taken the White House in seven out of the last ten elections, and it probably would have been eight out of ten if it weren't for Nixon's megalomaniacal incompetence and corruption.
By the end of the 1990s, the neo-conservative movement in America was in its death throes. With the collapse of Soviet socialism, and the ever-progressing abandonment of Chinese socialism, the uniting specter of Communism as a justification of empire and foreign interventionism was flagging. George W. Bush ran for and won the presidency in 2000 on a small government domestic and foreign policy platform, a platform including a “humble foreign policy,” without “nation building.”
But on September 11, 2001, the neo-conservatives received a Blessing from Above, a “catastrophic and catalyzing event––like a new Pearl Harbor.” In the wake of 9/11, as catalogued by Robert Higgs, the country rallied ‘round the flag . . . and the government. Approval ratings for the administration, Congress, and government in general shot through the roof in less than a week. The stage was set for a massive expansion of government power, and trillions of dollars of new wealth transfers through wars against third world nations with gross domestic products smaller than the US military budget.
But over the course of the past seven years, the administration's big government welfare-warfare state policies have alienated much of the American people. Two thirds of the country is against the war. We are told that two thirds of Republicans still strongly support President Bush. But what is often neglected is this: two thirds of Republicans who are left strongly support President Bush. For the first time in, well, history, registered independents outnumber registered Republicans (and they're gaining on the Democrats as well, but that's a story for another day). Die hard lefties might be anti-war (well, at least anti-Republican war, anyway), but so are independents and a growing number of fed up former Republicans. But independents, former Republicans, and many die hard current Republicans are completely fed up with vast new entitlement programs and spending run amok. The 2006 elections were clear enough evidence of this.
The so-called frontrunners for the 2008 Republican presidential nomination are all neo-cons (my definition of a "neo-conservative" is simple: a big government interventionist, foreign and domestic, in conservative clothing). Those remaining in the Republican base are largely neo-cons. The neo-con vote is fractured, splintered into 5 different camps, with no one candidate rising above the fray. The last time that the party failed to galvanize around a clear frontrunner was 1964, when the Republican nominee was Barry Goldwater, a radical libertarian conservative (flawed only by his foreign policy views).
The Republican Party’s stock has been run into the ground over the past seven years by the mismanagement of the CEO and board of directors. The company is ripe for hostile takeover by those with the vision to restore sound management and credibility to the brand.
The Republican base, what’s left of them, is unenthusiastic about any of their distasteful slate of neo-cons. Not only are the neo-cons in a real horserace, the “certain to support” numbers are unimpressive for any of them. Local participation in Republican Party politics had tracked with the flagging registration, with many Republican events either ceasing to run, or running with an ever smaller cadre of die-hard attendees gathering to wake the corpse of the Party.
But now, around the country, local Republican organizations are now finding themselves overrun by enthusiastic newcomers of all ages, but mostly college aged and young professionals, much needed new blood and invigoration for the tired and stilted Republican Party. They are stumping hard, winning straw polls, and raising tens of millions of dollars for their candidate. Virtually every city in America is dotted with their candidate’s, and only their candidate’s, signs. They are purchasing radio and television airtime around the nation, not to mention flying blimps.
The problem, at least as the neo-con Republican base sees it, is that they aren’t neo-cons. They actually talk about small government, liberty, personal responsibility, gun rights, freedom of political speech, sound money, and Heaven forbid, a non-interventionist foreign policy. These aren’t neo-conservatives. They aren’t even paleo-conservatives. They are retro-conservatives. Classical liberals, libertarians, the Old Right. They’re free market non-interventionists, foreign and domestic. They’ve studied economics and history and foreign policy. They are the best educated, most informed, most intelligent group of politically active individuals in the history of the nation. They not only know who Thomas Jefferson was, they know who Robert Taft was. They understand that the income tax, debt and the printing press have fueled the gigantic growth of government in the 20th century, and that all three are unsustainable. They understand that US foreign interventions, funded by these mechanisms, created the conditions that led to the cataclysmic avalanche of violence in the first half of that century, resulting in hundreds of millions of deaths and hundreds of millions of lives lived under the oppression of state socialism.
There’s a saying amongst libertarians: leading libertarians is like herding cats. So what is going on? How is Ron Paul managing to unite hundreds of thousands of people into a coherent movement? Ron Paul has been saying the same things, giving the same speeches, holding up the torch of liberty and sound money for three and a half decades. Ron Paul isn’t saying anything new. People are just finally Fed up (apologies for the pun) enough to listen to the message. And that message is resonating. And as with any resonance, the amplitude of the disturbance can grow until it shakes the system apart.
On average, the Earth’s magnetic field reverses polarity every 250,000 years. Similarly, over the history of the United States, the left-right spectrum that results from the structure of our political process has drifted as well, with sudden shifts occurring: the death of the Whig Party and the rise of the GOP, the shift of the Democratic Party from classical liberalism to social progressivism, the abandonment of a non-interventionist foreign policy by the GOP.
We are in the midst of such a pole shift right now. The two party political spectrum has drifted to an unstable state, with both ends of the spectrum advocating indistinguishable authoritarian interventionist domestic and foreign policies.
The hostile takeover of the Republican Party is already underway. It’s underway at the local, grassroots level. What remains to be seen is whether or not the people will be able to wrest control of the company from the moneyed and powered elites that currently own the controlling share.