The most important and unstated “lesson” of 2014 is that the GOP’s embrace of extremism as a calculated political strategy worked perfectly. It has invalidated key elements of Democratic political strategy and it is urgent that Democrats now face this reality.
Democrats: unity was absolutely indispensable for our recent victories but Dems also face divisive issues they must debate. It is therefore vital Dems figure out how to maintain maximum unity even as they disagree. Here’s where to start.
The Extremist Conquest of the GOP: Five Years of Strategy Memos from The Democratic Strategist. The GOP is not engaged in a struggle between moderates and extremists. The entire Republican Party has been infiltrated and transformed.
The GOP is not engaged in a struggle between moderates and extremists. The entire Republican Party has been infiltrated and transformed by advocates of an extremist political philosophy who now hold it captive. Denying this reality does a profound disservice to democracy.
As negotiations regarding the basic operation of the federal government reach a critical stage, the mainstream media is once again desperately revising its definition of what constitutes a Republican “moderate” in order to maintain the fiction that the GOP still has both moderate and extremist wings. This fits the unwritten rule of mainstream journalism that powerful conservative political and economic elites and establishments must always be described as basically “moderate” or “reasonable” in some sense or other while right-wing or conservative “extremism” must always be portrayed as a disreputable fringe aberration.
But this is deeply and fundamentally false. Today’s GOP is not engaged in a struggle between moderates and extremists. The entire Republican Party has been infiltrated and transformed by the advocates of an extremist political philosophy who for all practical purposes now hold it captive.
It is profoundly dangerous to refuse to recognize and confront this simple reality. For the last five years The Democratic Strategist has been tracking this profoundly disturbing trend and has repeatedly called attention to the fundamental changes that have been occurring.
During the last five years we have argued the following:
- That the core ideology of modern GOP extremism is the ethos of “politics as warfare” and the view of opponents as literal enemies. This perspective, which has gained major traction within the GOP, represents a fundamental change from a traditional conservative and Republican view of American political institutions as designed and intended to foster negotiation and compromise.
- That the current “extremism” of the GOP is not confined to extreme positions on issues. It also rejects and undermines basic democratic norms of behavior and democratic institutions and embraces tactics used by European extremist parties.
- That GOP extremism is not confined to a “fringe” of the GOP, a small minority of officeholders or only to the party’s grass-roots base. On the contrary, it is now supported by major elements of the conservative political and economic establishment and is as financially and organizationally powerful as the traditional Republican “establishment” of previous years. The fact that the GOP leadership in the House of Representatives now regularly and systematically capitulates to extremist demands dramatically illustrates the degree to which the entire party is now effectively controlled by the “extremists”.
- That the mainstream media has played a deeply destructive role in minimizing and even denying the facts about the rise of Republican extremism. Over the last four years the media have evolved from first consistently asserting a spurious “false equivalency” between the two political parties to more recently demonstrating a willingness to continually redefine the term “GOP moderate” so that the extremist leader or extremist position of two years ago suddenly becomes the more “moderate” leader or position today.
Democrats: it’s time to start thinking seriously about voter mobilization for 2014 — and particularly about the youth vote that will be critical to the outcome. But let’s start by avoiding one basic mistake.
The 2014 elections are now just 14 months away.
If the results go the wrong way, these elections can have profoundly negative consequences — a GOP senate could even ramp up impeachment hearings as just one more concession to the right-wing activist base.
Democrats have been slow to face up to the challenge. There have been disturbingly few articles that seriously evaluate strategies and propose initiatives to motivate and mobilize the voters who will make the critical difference on election day.
The Democratic Strategist is therefore pleased to present the first of a series of Strategy Memos on voter mobilization for 2014.