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Requiem for the GOP

GOP, DNC, RNC, President Bush, Illegal immigration, Terry McAuliffe, Ed Gillespie

I was in the Friday afternoon doldrums this past week when I happened upon a televised portion of a small business summit sponsored by the United State Chamber of Commerce in Washington D.C. The two guests of note during this portion of the Summit were both former heads of national party committees, Democratic and Republican.

Terry McAuliffe, the much-maligned former chairman of the DNC, had that look in his eye. You know, the one you might see at the final table at the World Series of Poker when your opponent flops a nut straight. It is the look of winning—and one that is all the more pronounced when winning has been uncommon.

It became clear that McAuliffe and his friends on the left side of the aisle are brazenly confident about the mid-term elections for, potentially, the first time since the presidency of the junior Bush.

But why?

To put it quite simply, Bush is losing his base of support faster than Rosie O'Donnell's orthopedic mattress. McAuliffe's counterpart, former RNC chairman Ed Gillespie, seemed hapless to disagree. The Republicans are truly in a pickle.

A sad historical fact for Republicans to swallow is that the popularity of the president, or lack thereof, almost always affects his Party; and these mid-term elections may prove to be a textbook example of this.

President Bush appears to have added elements of his base to the burgeoning groundswell of presidential disapproval. His approval ratings are in the tank, seeming only to fluctuate from bad to worse.

It started many months ago when Mr. Bush chided the "Minutemen Project" for being little more than “vigilantes.” In so doing, Mr. Bush made enemies out of friends and came across as dismissive of their concerns for border security.

This issue of illegal immigration, along with the holy mess in Iraq, has become paramount within the base of the Republican Party. Leaders of the GOP are in a tough spot trying to balance the deep-seeded business interests of those who benefit from cheap foreign labor and the thoroughgoing fear of national security breaches on the southern border.

The interests of capital, it seems, are winning.

Mr. Bush appears impotent on the issue of national security because of his refusal to act decisively with respect to border security and illegal immigration. This is his way of kowtowing to the interests of both capital and his Hispanic constituency in many southern states. It is action though inaction.

Mr. Bush will do his best at mending fences without building them in a speech someone has prepared for him to be delivered to the nation on Monday night. This will be Mr. Bush’s first attempt at constructing—or at least explaining—a solvent illegal immigration policy that keeps our country safe while maintaining its relative perviousness.

To his credit, Mr. Bush has done very well for himself with the new largest minority group in the United States--Hispanics. So much so that it appears that his party has waved the white flag of surrender and sided with politicking Brown over Black; a sentiment that was echoed yesterday during a demonstration in Washington by the Minutemen.

In recent elections, Bush and the Republicans have counted on their base--almost in its entirety--AND a significant percentage of Hispanics. In this year's mid-term elections, and looking ahead to 2008, the Republicans may not have that luxury.

The base has been alienated and the Republicans will reap a whirlwind for it. They no longer have credibility with fiscal conservatives in this country because government spending has never been higher. They no longer have credibility with many of the upper crust in the institutions of the military because of their micro-management of the War in Iraq. And, they no longer have credibility with social and cultural conservatives—many of whom believed Mr. Bush and the Republicans would deliver a serious blow to the progressive agendas of the left. (This is to say nothing of their places in the hearts of international legislative bodies.)

In short, they have lost a significant portion of the support that had been indispensable to them in the 2004 elections. Mr. Bush and the Republicans can no longer stake claim to moral clarity, strict constructionism, limited government, fiscal responsibility or national security.

The party is still old, but grand it is not.
Published: 2006-05-13
Author: Jared Field

About the author or the publisher
I am a graduate student with a BA in Political Science. I am currently about halfway done with my MA degree in Social Science at the University of Michigan in Flint. In my free time, I operate a web-based basketball publication in my home state for which I have received press credentials.

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