Turn up the TV, no one listening will suspect
Even your mother won’t detect it, so your father won’t know
They think that I’ve got no respect but
Everything is less than zero
Hey, oo hey-ey
Hey, oo hey-ey
First, the obvious: the Republican Party is profoundly out-of-step with 21st Century America. William F Buckley once described conservatism as an attempt to ‘stand athwart history yelling Stop!’–which, of course, is impossible. Years later, Chuck Palahniuk more reasonably observed that “on a long enough time line, the survival rate for everyone drops to zero.” And, bang, there’s the problem–the TeaOP has reached the end of its particular history-thwarting time line. The party is past its expiration date and in deep denial about that fact.
For the TeaOP, what started out as gradually increasing cultural dissonance has become an unstoppable crumbling of the ideological ledge the party is standing on. Understandably, they’re bewildered, angry and–most of all–disbelieving.
This is why Reince Preibus’ RNC plan is eyes-screwed-shut delusional, and equally, why all of the TeaOP factions–the Tea Partiers, the Christian Right and the Libertarians–are as misguided in their outraged responses to the plan as the report itself. All of the stakeholders are rending their garments in the belief that theirs is the best way to save TeoOP. Except that there is no saving it–none at all. If the RNC plan were flawlessly executed, the best possible result would be the purchase of a little more time before it ceases to exist.
Here’s the harsh topography at the end of the TeaOP time line: The old and oldest generations are literally dying; the country is becoming significantly less white (think minority status); the country is becoming distinctly less religious (at least in an organized sense), the only sane question about immigration reform is when, not if; gays are increasingly being accepted as the first-class citizens they’ve always been and women have proven there is no way in hell they’ll be sent back to the first season of Mad Men.
On a long enough time line, the survival rate for everyone drops to zero . . . There’s very little room for interpretation in that grimness. Two years from now there will be even fewer of today’s seniors, even less conventionally religious people, fewer white people, more demand for a rethought immigration policy, more gay families across the nation and women will be an even more potent force to be reckoned with. Now think about four years out, six years down the line or eight years from now.
And so, the TeaOP isn’t in the saving-itself business by any stretch of the imagination, rather it’s engaged in buying itself time–and desperately so. They’re hapless passengers after a shipwreck, swimming between flotsam as the each piece becomes too waterlogged to keep them afloat. Or, less dramatically, the TeaOP can be seen as a single guy at a bar at last call–at 2:00 AM, with hook-up possibilities greatly diminished, all manner of improbable partners are suddenly worth considering. Desperate times, desperate measures . . . Thus in the morning, the TeaOP wakes up alongside the Christian Right or seniors frightened by healthcare reform or Unreconstructed Randians or even Libertarians. And in the cold light of morning, after the deed has been done, all the TeaOP hopes for is that they don’t want to stay for breakfast–except that they always do.
The TeaOP in its current ideological form is fatally and incurably ill even as it persists in planning for birthdays into the next decade. It’s Kubler-Ross time, and depending on which party player you talk to, they’re either at Denial or Anger, with a few of the clearer heads just now arriving at Bargaining. Of course the end of this psychological journey is Acceptance–which, yes, means the end of this version of the Republican Party, and not a moment too soon.
However, whether or not there is a next version depends on how fervently and how long they mistake rebranding for reimagining or rebirth. Because the RNC plan and the factional critiques of it (and most certainly the CPAC clown car) are guaranteed tickets to extinction. End of the time line, everybody off.
So call me when the fabric of TeaOP reality is picked apart and actually rewoven–but until then, I have no patience for the delusional sturm und drang roiling the party and with its seeming validation by the breathless, blow-by-blow media coverage. After all, on a long enough time line, one’s ability to care about political posturing drops to zero . . .