The Republicans’ future

THE REPUBLICANS’ FUTURE…. Paul Krugman considers how Republicans might react if tomorrow’s elections go poorly for the GOP. He’s not optimistic.

You might think, perhaps hope, that Republicans will engage in some soul-searching, that they’ll ask themselves whether and how they lost touch with the national mainstream. But my prediction is that this won’t happen any time soon.

Instead, the Republican rump, the party that’s left after the election, will be the party that attends Sarah Palin’s rallies, where crowds chant “Vote McCain, not Hussein!” It will be the party of Saxby Chambliss, the senator from Georgia, who, observing large-scale early voting by African-Americans, warns his supporters that “the other folks are voting.” It will be the party that harbors menacing fantasies about Barack Obama’s Marxist — or was that Islamic? — roots.

This seems very likely. For one thing, the few remaining Republican “moderates” (I use the word loosely) are leaving, thanks to a combination of primary defeats, general-election defeats, and retirements. What remains will be far-right lawmakers and further-right lawmakers.

For another, the party’s base has already staked its claim — conservatives firmly believe that Republicans lost in 2006 and have struggled in 2008 because the party just isn’t reactionary enough. Indeed, the party’s activists are out for blood: “Jim Nuzzo, a White House aide to the first President Bush, dismissed Mrs Palin’s critics as ‘cocktail party conservatives’ who ‘give aid and comfort to the enemy’. He told The Sunday Telegraph: ‘There’s going to be a bloodbath. A lot of people are going to be excommunicated. David Brooks and David Frum and Peggy Noonan are dead people in the Republican Party.'”

The result, Krugman noted, is the acceleration of the Republican Party’s “long transformation into the party of the unreasonable right, a haven for racists and reactionaries.”

And where does that leave sane Republicans? “Many of them spent the Bush years in denial, closing their eyes to the administration’s dishonesty and contempt for the rule of law. Some of them have tried to maintain that denial through this year’s election season, even as the McCain-Palin campaign’s tactics have grown ever uglier. But one of these days they’re going to have to realize that the G.O.P. has become the party of intolerance.”