Saturday, August 17, 2013

The Party Is Over

The Republican Party is dissolving before our eyes, as did the Whig Party it succeeded in 1860.

The Republican Congress of seven years ago extended the Voting Rights Act (VRA) and it was signed off on by a Republican president. (The Republican-controlled House vote was 390-33, the Republican-controlled Senate vote 98-0.) Last year Republicans went out of their way to game the election process with a variant form of poll taxation that failed, but brought the VRA before the Supreme Court. It is unrealistic of the Roberts Court to expect that the present Republican Congress will take any action in the best interest of the country with respect to our civil rights. It has no interest in it. That the court also threw out DOMA, despite GOP legal defense spending, really puts the out-of-power party in an odd place – where a major party dissolves, as did the Whig Party.

For several years the GOP agenda has appeared to be all about repealing the Great Society and anything that supported it under the Constitution. Rand Paul ran up the trial balloon opposing part of the Civil Rights Act itself, prior to his election. Lindsay Graham, Jon Kyl, and Mitch McConnell each supported repealing the 14th Amendment. The party continues to support the disenfranchisement of women, not just the Roe v. Wade decision but coming perilously close to the 19th Amendment itself; all of it under the mantra “take the country back.”

The show is far from over. In these last few years of the GOP existence we will still have to endure more crisis mismanagement, another government shutdown and debt ceiling rerun, and a coup d’état for the Speakership, although a short Speakership for the present majority leader Eric Cantor should such a coup come before the midterm elections. Scads of congressional Republicans may expect to be handed pink slips by fed-up voters, whereupon Nancy Pelosi will reprise her Speaker of the House role. Thereafter a crushing defeat in the 2016 general election will sound the death knell.

So, what the Supreme Court has done is to harpoon the GOP by remanding the Voting Rights Act to Congress for a rewrite and by striking down key elements of the Defense of Marriage Act altogether. Speaker Boehner has lost control of his caucus, as the recent Farm Bill debacle demonstrated, and Congress’s approval rating is at a historic low. Blame Obama, blame the Left, blame the Democrats, and condemn anyone who points it out; but the party is over.