Now that the Iowa caucus is upon us, the best thing that could happen to the Republican party in 2012 at the national level may be a good drubbing -- not just in the presidential race but across the board.
This is not a prediction (certainly not with this economy) nor is it an endorsement for the Democratic party, merely an observation. Moreover, it is unlikely given so few states will be in play.
When it comes to governing, I have long been an advocate of divided government. I believe our system works best when both parties have some skin in the game.
But the public persona of the Republicans, particularly in the House of Representatives, is more concerned with being against all things supported by President Barack Obama.
It gleefully lionizes former president Ronald Reagan as the titular head of the party while bearing little resemblance in deed or demeanor. Taking vows of no new taxes from Grover Norquist, who in return titillates their ambitions financially, may be successful for winning elections but is irresponsible when it comes to governing.
The perception of the party is increasingly one of absolutes and certainties, eschewing compromise, viewing it as a sign of weakness.
It is an insult to the American people to bemoan the dysfunction of Washington (which is bipartisan in nature) only to be seen as a driving force behind the problem. The payroll tax issue is the most recent example.
Before caving on the politics, the Republican House balked on a temporary extension that caused the Wall Street Journal editorial board to recently opine:
No employer is going to hire a worker based on such a small and temporary decrease in employment costs, as this year's tax holiday has demonstrated. The entire exercise is political, but Republicans have thoroughly botched the politics.
The Republicans appear to be a party willing to drive the economy over the cliff to save it from itself.
In 2010, Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell stated: "The single most important thing we want to achieve is for President Obama to be a one-term president."
That is an understandable political goal, Democrats would offer the same if the situation were reversed, but there must be a line of demarcation between political ideology and governing, with the latter taking precedent over the former.
For McConnell to make good on his political desires he must render the existing challenges that confront the nation to a secondary consideration.
America's problems are bigger than the orthodoxy of any political party.
We need two political parties actively competing in the marketplace of ideas. A shellacking in 2012 might be the tonic that will unearth the perspectives of individuals within the Republican party who are frustrated by the myopic and derisive approach currently adopted.
Political parties, especially in a two-party system, need to undergo a self-induced purging from time to time. If not, they risk the fate of the Federalists and Whigs.
In every presidential election, we are told by both parties how this is the most important election in our lifetime.
Whether the aforementioned is true, America cannot afford to have one political party driven by cynical politics and the other mired in mediocrity. But a G.O.P victory in 2012 would most likely sustain the current practices of both.
The downside to my observation if brought to fruition could infuse the Democrats with a dose of unbridled arrogance, which would warrant another correction.
For the Republican loyalist who may take umbrage with the tone of this column, bear in mind the last time the Republicans underwent a good old-fashioned trouncing was 1964. How did things work out afterwards?