Robert Reich’s ‘Why the GOP Can’t learn” at HuffPo provides a lucid explanation for the Republican party’s inability to grow in credibility:
…The Republican base is far more entrenched, institutionally, than was the old Democratic base. And its power is concentrated in certain states — most of the old Confederacy plus Arizona, Alaska, Indiana, and Wisconsin — which together exert more of a choke-hold on the Republican national party machinery than the old Democrats, spread widely but thinly over many states, exerted on the Democratic Party.
These Republican states are more homogenous and conspicuously less like the rest of America than the urbanized regions of the country that are growing more rapidly. Senators and representatives from these states naturally reflect the dominant views of their constituents — on immigration, abortion, and gay marriage, as well as guns, marijuana, race, and dozens of other salient issues. But these views are increasingly out of step with where most of the nation is heading.
This state-centered, relatively homogenous GOP structure effectively prevents the Party from changing its stripes. Despite all the post-election rhetoric about the necessity for change emanating from GOP leaders who aspire to the national stage, the national stage isn’t really what the GOP is most interested in or attuned to. It’s directed inward rather than outward, to its state constituents rather than to the nation.
This structure also blocks any would-be “New Republicans” such as Chris Christie from gaining the kind of power inside the party that a New Democrat like Bill Clinton received in 1992. The only way they’d be able to attract a following inside the Party would be to commit themselves to policies they’d have to abandon immediately upon getting nominated, as Mitt Romney did with disastrous results.
As for the Republican Party’s future,
The greater likelihood is a steady eclipse of the Republican Party at the national level, even as it becomes more entrenched in particular states. Those states can be expected to become regressive islands of backwardness within a nation growing steadily more progressive.
The GOP’s national role will be primarily negative — seeking to block, delay, and filibuster measures that will eventually become the law of the land in any event, while simultaneously preaching “states’ rights” and praying for conservative majorities on the Supreme Court.
The increasing marginalization of the GOP may hep the Democrats win more elections. But it doesn’t provide much of an incentive for Dems to pursue creative or innovative policies, as challenges from a healthier Republican Party might do. In a way, a the GOP’s ‘death spiral’ hurts Dems too.