The Republican Party is the strongest it has been in decades and could be on the verge of a victory that could give them more electoral power than at any time since 1920, the year women first voted for the president.
That’s the conclusion of Sean Trende and David Byler who have put together an index of party strength:
You can quibble with the methodology and focus on the role gerrymandering and other methods of voter disempowerment have played. But it’s undeniable that Republicans have done much better than Democrats in winning down-ticket races since the Democratic landslide of 2008. And this is how you accumulate political power.
The GOP now controls the House, the Senate, 31 governorships and 69 out of 99 state legislatures.
And I’d suggest that the reality is worse than Trende and Byler’s chart even shows, if you factor in the Supreme Court. Republicans have four Justices who will vote for nearly anything they put in front of them and a fifth Anthony Kennedy who is with them on almost any decision that benefits conservatives’ favorite people — corporations.
The fiercest tragedy of recent history is that Republicans have accumulated all this power in the wake of a decade in which unfettered Republican policies resulted in a combination economic and foreign policy failures so undeniable that conservatives have spent most of the last decade pretending they never happened, until they decided they’d better run another Bush.
Making any sense the misery of Iraq has proven to be a problem for Jeb who has now transitioning to the neo-con line of blaming Obama for adhering to the agreement George W. Bush made with the Iraqi government. We’ll see how that works but it’s just the beginning of answering W.’s failures in a way Republicans haven’t had to in long while.
“Republicans have failed to fully reckon with the reality that they presided over the worst economic downturn since the 1930s,”James Pethokoukis wrote in This Week, followed by some helpful advice on how to do that.
The right was able to seize on the economic unrest their policies sowed because a decades-long effort by corporate America to retake the political process from the unions and consumer advocates who were ascendant during the massive growth of the 1960s. That concerted effort gave them a conservative majority on the Supreme Court that decided the financial crisis was the perfect time to award corporations more power in the political process with the ability to make unlimited, anonymous donations to Super PACs and social welfare “non-profits.”
And it can only get worse — or better — in 2016, as the GOP sets its sights on the prize that has eluded them and is ultimately the key to its success.
The next presidential election will set the navigation for how this nation is governed for decades. With four justices about to hit or exceed their life expectancy in the next five years, the 45th president will likely leave the Court with a majority that will be in business longer than Aol. And that Court will answer some basic questions:
- Will only men and wealthy women have reproductive rights?
- Can the federal government fight climate change?
- Will Medicare, Social Security, Obamacare, the Americans with Disabilities Act, the Age Discrimination in Employment Act, the Family and Medical Leave, minimum wage, maximum hour laws, child labor laws survive a judicial philosophy that would repeal the twentieth century?
Republicans need to win only one election — the presidency — to do their best to make sure the answer to these questions is “OH, HELL NO!” But if they lose that race, all their unprecedented political power will not satisfy the thirst of their billionaire donors — several of whom have a huge vested interest in being able to wreck the climate for free.
The Daily Beast‘s Michael Tomasky predicts the GOP losing the White House again would result in the Republican civil war liberals have been so eager to manifest.
“When a party loses two consecutive presidential elections, the losses can be chalked up to the appearance of a charismatic candidate and, then, the powers of his incumbency,” he wrote. “But three; that’s when people have to start looking hard in the mirror.”
The reason Jeb Bush may be able to raise $100 million in a few months is donors think he can prevent this sort of reckoning by running the way Bushes do — as “uniters not dividers” willing blur differences while engaging in any sort of vile Willie Horton/swiftboat tactic necessary to win. Jeb thinks he can eventually get the base to accept his feigning moderation because they know how Bushes actually govern. And they remember who appointed Clarence Thomas, John Roberts and Samuel Alito to the Supreme Court.
The massive import of this election has helped drive a majority of Democrats into the arms of Hillary Clinton thus far. They believe she can hold together much of the Obama coalition by promising to preserve his policies while doing better with the Reagan Democrats Bill Clinton brought back into the party. If that happens, Republicans may be forced to actually do some soul searching, which is tough when you’ve dislocated your soul.
So much depends on this election. And that election will be determined largely by the shape of the economy. If Republicans are going to learn anything from the failures of George W. Bush, it’s going to happen eight years after he left office.
Or if they take back the White House, they’ll have learned that they should have no fear of waging aggressive war and transferring massive amounts of wealth to the rich. Because who’s going to stop them?