Tonight the GOP finds itself facing the tar pit of irrevelency. After eight years of Rove, Cheney and Bush bringing the standard of American politics to a new low, Republicans are confronted with the possibility of spending the next eight being crushed by a Democratic majority in Congress and an overwhelmingly popular Democratic president. They way I see it, the GOP has two paths it can take. One leads to a sustainable future, the other will land them somewhere between Neve Cambell's career and stacks of left over "Cool Runnings" VHS tapes.
Rovian politics have doomed the GOP. While the man might be playing nice as a pundit and contributor, his way of business has been adapted by the whole of the Republican party, and the GOP is suffering for it now. Spreading lies that John McCain was the father of a black illegitimate baby might have won George W. Bush the 2000 primaries, but Rove's strategy of zero-sum arguments and fear mongering just plain don't work any more. The electorate has wisened up to his wascally ways. It might have taken us eight years to figure it out, but hopefully the lessons will stick. Observe the dismal performance of supposed inheritor to Rove's throne, Steve Schmidt. His big idea was adding Palin to the ticket. Smooth move, Schmidt!
Because after the Bush presidency, what we all wanted was a folksy, good looking, compassionate conservative who's main experience was being governor of one of the largest states in the union. Er, wait a second... Haven't we had enough of nepotism, willful golly-gee-shucks ignorance, and a foreign policy that bares startling resemblance to the Children's Crusade? What about another eight years of hearing it pronounced "Nuke-you-lar"?
Hearing its own death rattle, McCain Staff reached out for the bluntest weapon handy: Rove's tactics. Yet nothing seemed to stick. Obama is a Muslim! No wait, Obama is a Christian with a crazy Black preacher! Obama is a socialist who wants to take all your money! No wait, Obama is a wealthy Elitist! Obama is a terrorist! Finally they settled for "Obama is really really famous!" to which America grinned and said, "I know! Isn't it exciting! I've never cared about politics before!"
Each time they trotted out a new attack, McCain's image of a decent man running for a hallowed office faded a little more. Today, the Senator looks like the guy who doesn't understand how he lost - and to that one.
By going for Rove's GOP big guns, McCain wasted his last election by desperately reaching out to the most hardcore of the base: anti-gay rights, anti-environmental legislation, anti-black people vote. The campaign became about being against things and in a time that's so depressing it's hard enough to get out of bed as it is, people were turned off. Just like their heat and water!
Rather than continuing to purify itself into its darkest, most cynical, most nihilistic self, the GOP must re-learn to be for things. It has to shuck off the Bush years and clean house. You've heard of de-Batthification? The GOP has to de-Bush. No wax involved.
Social issues like immigration, gay rights and abortion continue to mire the GOP in personal issues that might comfort base voters, but leave the party behind as society moves forward. Politicians who hung on to segregation became obsolete as civil rights legislation went into effect, and whether or not the United Reformed Church Of Hating Fags wants to admit it, gay rights will become this generations great fight for living in a free, humane society. The GOP must be on the side of progress, otherwise...
Rather than catering to a base of voters who cannot get their candidates elected, the GOP must focus on their hallmark issues: conservative economic and foreign policy. Ironically, these are the two areas that used to make up the foundation of McCain's platform. With the choices of Schmidt and Palin, McCain bamboozled himself out of winning the election on his experience in these fields -- the only leg up on the competition he may have had.
The Bush years have seriously impaired the GOP's brand. If it wants to survive, the grand ol' party must go back to the drawing board. I hope it does. Give me something good to fight against. Just this time, keep out the cynics.