The next Republican presidential debate organized by Fox Business Network will feature strict attendance rules that may leave just six podiums, and a considerably swollen undercard debate.
This adds signifiant drama to the GOP primary, but why is FBN taking it upon itself to winnow the Republican field? These are legitimate Republican campaigns for the Presidency, if the problem is that featuring too many candidates in a debate is unwieldy for televised broadcasting of the GOP nomination process, should it not be the Republican National Committee’s responsibility to publicly and democratically solve this problem?
It is predictable that the RNC’s political bureaucracy is much like Republicans’ view of government: laissez-faire. The Republican Party is suffering because of its lack of central control, and the party’s candidates are exceptionally independent because of it.
The GOP primary has been dominated for months by inspiredly anti-establishment non-politicians who do not have a day of Republican service between them. Now a few actual politicians are gaining in the polls, but they consist of opportunists Ted Cruz and Marco Rubio, who rose to fame undermining Republican senatorial strategy and voting against personal immigration legislation, respectively. It is not healthy party politics when candidates gain in polling by denouncing the party.
As such, the Republican field of candidates is the wild west of political opportunity. Anyone can ride into town with a gun and be sheriff, increasingly literally.
This presents an obvious challenge for RNC Chairman Reince Priebus, who has overseen a particularly unruly Republican primary process. It must be stressful while the party’s frontrunner drags the party through Islamophobic and racist mud, and threatens to go rogue at the most thin-skinned provocation.
But their desire for perceived party unity clearly trumps their desire for rational political discourse, and the RNC has itself to blame for its win-at-all-moral-costs political strategy. The unnecessary hatred toward President Obama is only a side effect of the enduring era of toxic partisan politics against functional governance begun with Newt Gingrich’s efforts to destroy Bill Clinton’s personal life in spite of his administration’s economic success. An astonishing 43% of contemporary Republicans believe that President Obama is a Muslim, because of neither professional nor responsible politics.
But unfortunately for Republican strategists, America is now a center-left nation. The Bush era of politically calculated social division and endless warmongering has been overturned, and Americans now approve of gay marriage, marijuana legalization and foreign policy of peace. Social conservatism’s hands have slipped off the political pendulum.
Which puts the RNC, with its focus on national politics, in a tough spot between promoting a center-right path to winning the presidency or following along with the most vocal and angry primary voters to likely self-destruction.
The national reality is that Obama won two electoral landslides, and the country is shading significantly bluer. The RNC has to know it is going to lose this election big, and that the current course toward fascist radicalization of national Republican politics will either result in epic electoral defeat at best, or fragmentation into two separate conservative parties at worst. And two seceded conservative parties will definitely lose to the Democratic Party in elections of the future.
The RNC needs some central control, at the very least in order to reign in the conspiratorial misinformation pervading its base’s political perspective and minority party narrative. National victory is impossible if conservatism keeps the door to its echo chamber closed.
National victory is likely impossible anyway. I cannot emphasize this enough: play around with an interactive electoral map. Republicans are nowhere near the electoral mathematics needed to get to 270 electoral votes. The swing states that matter are Ohio, Florida, and Virginia, and Republicans will still lose if they win all three. And changing demographics of race and age are threatening a plethora of Republican-leaning states.
Meanwhile, “socialist” is no longer a dirty political word in America, and Bernie Sanders has built the most democratically supported campaign out of either party. Sanders beats Trump by an impressive 13 points, and “socialism” was Merriam-Webster’s most looked-up word in 2015. In response to fascism, socialism has more support.
But for the sake of political imagination and wild speculation, say Bernie Sanders’ movement of democratic socialism fragments the Democratic Party into two liberal parties. America could conceivably find itself in a sudden political revolution of multi-party legislative politics. This would dramatically alter the way our government works, and lead to more compromise-minded politicking. However, a division of the Democratic party is unlikely because the two fragmented liberal parties would still have majority coalitional support.
The true wild card in Election 2016 is Donald Trump, and even the Republican Party cannot guess how the Trump primary reformation will proceed. It is subsequently much too early to guess how the GOP will counter-reform.
GOP presidential politics has become a soap opera, no wonder the nation is transfixed. But despite the media’s obsession, the GOP will still lose. The country just wants to watch the train wreck.
The Republican Party, and Trump in particular, have media attention, but things are hardly going well for them.