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Michael Keegan Headshot

Not Your Daddy's GOP

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The Olympic Games are winding to a close, but the biennial -- and increasingly competitive -- contest to be the craziest GOP congressional candidate is going strong. This week, Missouri Rep. Todd Akin won his state's Republican Senate primary, putting him in position to be one of the nuttiest members of a club already full of, shall we say, "strong personalities." Before this victory, Akin was most widely known for his observation that "at the heart of liberalism really is a hatred for God," which understandably got some progressive believers a little worked up. He also received some attention when he suggested that marriage equality might wind up destroying our civilization, blamed legal abortion for illegal immigration, declared Medicare unconstitutional, and compared student loan reform with "stage three cancer." Then there's Indiana's Richard Mourdock, who ousted Richard Lugar -- one of the few moderate Republicans remaining in the Senate -- in a primary in May. Mourdock, who walks the Tea Party line on issues like abolishing direct election of senators, actively campaigned against bipartisanship, saying, "It is bipartisanship that has taken this country to the very brink of bankruptcy." And, of course, there's former Texas solicitor general Ted Cruz, who wrapped up his Senate primary late last month and has already scored an invitation to speak at the Republican National Convention. Cruz campaigned on his work as solicitor general helping Texas undermine an international treaty in order to execute a Mexican national. He's a ready conspiracy theorist, warning of the "enormous problem" of Sharia law, calling President Obama the nation's "most radical president," and accusing the United Nations of trying to abolish the sport of golf. Yes, golf. No wonder Olympia Snowe of Maine is retiring before she's the next moderate Republican to go. Republicans have already run African-Americans, Latinos, non-evangelical-Christians, gays and lesbians out of their party. Now they're driving out the infidels. Soon there will be nobody left except for a handful of tea partiers keeping golf courses safe from the UN. Last month, The New York Times reported on the dwindling Republican party of California. A Republican consultant told the Times,

They are down to 30 percent, which makes it impossible to win a statewide election. You just can't get enough crossover voters... They have alienated large swaths of voters. They have become too doctrinaire on the social issues. It's become a cult.

In California, the Big Tent is becoming the pup tent. Sound familiar? As California goes.....

Sure, there will be short-term victories, but the GOP has got to rethink a few things if it wants to survive in a country that's increasingly pluralistic, tolerant of difference, and craving national solutions to national problems. Driving out moderates to make way for regressive policies and the hard-liner conspiracy theorists who push them just isn't going to cut it in a diverse country.

Just look at the young Republicans who the Times interviewed for a story this week. By and large, they're tolerant of gays, open to reproductive rights and seem turned off by the Tea Party's hard line. How long will it take them to realize that in today's Republican Party, their personalized politics just aren't welcome? Sure, they can vote. But as we're seeing in this year's primaries, straying from an increasingly far-right line won't get you elected.