For the last Idon'tknowhowlong, Republicans and Democrats have been locked in partisan warfare that has gone on for longer than the 100 Years War, the Arab-Israeli conflict, or what it feels like to sit through one episode of "The Real Housewives of NYC."
The Republicans like to refer to themselves as "traditional." That means, they are anti-progress. The Democrats like to refer to themselves as "progressives." That means, not liberals. Republicans want to fight about social issues, such as gay rights. Democrats want to fight about middle class issues, such as 50 million Americans without health care. Republicans want you to believe that the Democrats view terrorism as an issue to discuss with your therapist while sipping mocha half caff caps; Democrats want you to believe Republicans will spy on you, torture you, and Dick Cheney will use your house as his next bunker if you vote for the elephant party.
This constant debate has been a sure thing since we redistricted for "safe" seats, since Nixon resigned, and since Michelle Bachman blamed Jimmy Carter (I am not joking) for a previous swine flu strain.
And yet - the Republicans are nearly out of business. They are in worse shape than Chrysler. John Boehner just asked for stimulus money to keep the Republican Party alive (I am joking). The Republican Party's leading spokespeople are Rush Limbaugh, Dick Cheney, Newt Gingrich, Sarah Palin and Michael Steele. They're not exactly carving out new space on Mt. Rushmore for any of this crew.
Arlen Specter left the Party, after 200,000 Republicans in Pennsylvania became Democrats. Arlen is number 200,001. A little late to the Democrats, but welcome because he is also the crucial #59 (I should mention here that my brother Drew Littman will be Chief of Staff for #60, Senator Al Franken).
The problem for the Republicans is that it's not just Pennsylvanians who support the party less than they did a few years ago; around the country, about 21% of Americans identify themselves as Republicans, and what this means is that the most strident right-wingers are still members of the Party; the logicians have run, screaming.
The Republican Party is now the Southern, White party, or as George Jefferson didn't say, the Honky Party.
The Republican Party is in danger of falling off the map. But we need rival parties, like the Yankees need the Red Sox, like the Capulets needed the Montagues, like L.C. needed Speidi. That's right, a "Hills" reference. I'm not above it.
Rivals keep us honest. The U.S. and Russia had a long Cold War because neither wanted to use nuclear weapons for fear of annihilation. Imagine if just Russia had nukes. Oy.
Without the Republican Party, the Democratic Party may overreach. That's the danger. There's no one to hold us back. The Party in power always ends up overreaching, and then there's a correction. The Republicans just did it - Karl Rove thought they had a mandate, and he was way off base. He destroyed his party.
The difference this time is that the correction against the Republicans is still ongoing. The more Dick Cheney or Sarah Palin make it into the news, the more people will flee the Republican Party. Sarah agrees to appear on "American Chopper," then her name's in the news. Dick Cheney defends torture, he stays in the news. It's like they never left, and if they don't leave, people will keep voting the other way, until they go away.
Here's a prediction: even 2010, a year that by all rights and all historical evidence, should be great for Republicans, will go the way of the Democrats. The Honky Party will not wise up in the next year and a half. They won't send Cheney back to his underground bunker. Palin will continue to make news. RNC Chair Steele will still babble about the economy, Newt Gingrich will still bloviate about foreign policy, and George W. Bush will wonder what ever happened to the McDLT.
So, will Congress overreach? Will the President overreach? And even if they do, will the Republicans continue to exist so they can pick up the pieces?