GOP Extremism Will Doom Its Future Prospects

It has begun!

Republicans nationwide are proffering a variety of excuses to explain their resounding defeat on Tuesday. We should take full stock the defeat’s impressive scope — remember, this was an election the GOP always expected to win.

Throughout Obama’s first term, they bragged about how easy it would be to “depose” his “regime” because the American people would surely reject Obama’s “radical socialist agenda.” Of course, Obama is no radical socialist — much to the chagrin of real socialists — so these accusations from the GOP ultimately fell flat. Yes, they were successful in whipping up rage among the party faithful, but an insufficient number of fair-minded Americans bought into these fevered conspiracy theories. The Obama they’ve observed for 5+ years now is not a wild-eyed ideologue, but a pragmatist with conservative dispositional tendencies.

This election proved that most ordinary people are not as susceptible to hysterical fear-mongering as might have been previously believed. The GOP’s failure to present a reasoned, sober-minded critique of Obama produced these results more than anything Obama himself did. In fact, Obama was quite a vulnerable incumbent; the economy is still poor (despite a slightly-lower unemployment rate) and there are host of other problems he failed to address in his first term.

I long thought that a charismatic, likable GOP nominee would have an easy time defeating Obama, and I still think that was the case. But Mitt Romney — an intensely unlikable, out-of-touch former Mormon prelate — did not meet my criteria.

Expect to hear many platitudes from Party “leaders” about how they are so very interested in reforming from within — reaching out to Hispanics and so forth. But the GOP was rejected for reasons that don’t seem likely to change. I anticipate further exaltation of destructive figures like Karl Rove, Sean Hannity, Dinesh D’Souza, Matt Drudge, David Koch, Liz Cheney, and others who helped sink Romney’s chances this year.

Most Americans are of a moderate sensibility and don’t accept the GOP’s extreme, deluded interpretations of current events.

About michaeltracey

Journalist based in Brooklyn, New York. Follow me on Twitter at @mtracey.

  • Stev84

    The economic argument only works on the shortsighted (which admittedly means most voters). The whole world was in just about the worst recession since 80 years. No, Obama didn’t make the economy booming in merely four years against all trends in other countries. But neither would anyone else. He did about as well as could be expected under the circumstances. People should be realistic about that and not expect the impossible. But no, they’d rather be lied to.

  • Baby_Raptor

    I read one article-can’t remember where- where a Gooper said that maybe they need to open up to people who “believe other things, like science and math” in light of their recent ass-handing. 

    My desk had a new dent in it after that. Science is one thing, but I had no idea these people actually doubted *math.* What was math’s crime?

    Edit: Linky

  • JBC

    The defeat was hardly impressive in scope…it was close to an even split out of over 100 Million votes.

    And that IS scary. 

  • ReadsInTrees

    I never listen to conservative talk radio….but I tuned in the other day to listen to them squabbling over How This Happened. Their favorite way to reason this out was to stuff all Obama voters into tidy little boxes that were easier to handle: Latinos voted for Obama because they want free citizenship, women voted for Obama because they want abortions, black people voted for Obama because HE is black (although, by that reasoning, all white people should have voted for him because he’s also white), and all young people voted for Obama because they like free stuff.  It would probably blow their minds to know that I know many older, white, working, Christian men that voted for Obama.

  • machintelligence

    “Tea Partiers will take over the Republican party in the next four years,” Viguerie said.

    We can certainly hope for this. Allow me to go all Delphic here: If the Tea Party takes over the Republican party, the next election will be a landslide.

  • ReadsInTrees
  • Michael Tracey

    Take a look at the electoral college map. The victory was much more resounding in both popular vote and electoral vote than Bush’s reelection in 2004.

  • JBC

    Good point, but it is clear that the country is divided. Thats hardly a resounding victory.

    Obama has no mandate.

  • Lurker111

     “Tea Partiers will take over the Republican party in the next four years”

    And will they be passing out hoods?

    Sorry.  It’s just too easy.  And, alas, too apt.

  • Roberto Ortiz

    This was not a resounding victory. The popular vote was quite close.
    However, the Republicans will have to move a bit to the center to have any chance in future elections because that is the way the country is moving (albeit very slowly).

  • Michael Tracey

    Yes, it was a resounding victory. Take a look at the electoral college map. Obama won every state he won in 2008 other than Indiana and North Carolina. His margin in the popular vote far exceeded the margin that George W. Bush won by in 2004. Obama defied the odds, which long favored a competent GOP candidate.

  • Ibis3

    It would probably blow their minds to know that I know many older, white, working, Christian men that voted for Obama.

    No. These they write off as gays (who aren’t *real* Christians anyway), dupes, and traitors.

  • JoeBuddha

    It was a resounding victory WRT the rabid teapartiers who lost and some of the great legislation that was passed. It’s probably the first time I can look at the election and feel that on the whole, things improved slightly. We’ll see what happens in the next few years, though.

  • pRinzler

    “Most Americans are of a moderate sensibility. . . .”

    But one-half of all Americans are below-average intelligence.

  • Willy Occam

    The Republican Kool-Aid has become too bitter for the majority of people to continue swallowing.   They need to consider changing the recipe.

  • Octoberfurst

     The Right spent the last 4 yrs demonizing Obama. He wasn’t a “real” American they said. In fact he was born in Kenya AND he is  really a Muslim who wants to impose Sharia on America. The lunacy went on and on. He was a “Marxist”, a “Nazi”, an “America-hating Black Liberationist”. They created an Obama that sane people wouldn’t recognize. Obama hated this country and wanted to turn it over to be run by the UN.  He despises Christians and was going to send them to FEMA camps. It was one insane conspiracy theory after another. Rational people–i.e. non-Fox News viewers—dismissed these charges but the wingnut faithful just lapped it up.
       So they were CONVINCED that when the election came that Obama would be overwhelmingly defeated at the ballot if not run out of office by angry mobs of patriotic, righteous citizens beforehand.  But that didn’t happen and they were dumbfounded!  How could this be? Why would America re-elected a communist traitor?
      So now they are coming up with excuses. It was because of minorities, gays, stupid women et al who all want “freebies” from the government. Yep the lazy leeches had put Obama over the top!  The hard-working White patriots didn’t stand a chance!  (Or so they tell themselves.)  Unfortunately insight and self-refection is not a trait of the Right.

  • Coyotenose

     It’s a funny Carlin line, but only something like 15% of people are outside the median range.

  • Mike De Fleuriot

     Don’t think below average intelligence, think more below average education. And that is much easier to fix, you guys have the tools to do this, go out there and educate these dumb-asses. 

  • Coyotenose

     According to the Republicans’ own 2004 claims, he does. Of course they won’t remember that, because it, like everything else they say, is only meant to score points at that given moment.

  • pRinzler

    How’d you know that’s my job?

  • pRinzler

    You’re not getting all technical and science-y on me now, are you?

  • Reginald Selkirk

     Dunning & Kruger say that you won’t be able to tell.

  • pRinzler

    I *can* tell!

  • Paul Paulus

    The GOP thought that a black man could never be elected president in the first place much less achieve a second term.

    They thought the first term was an oversight which would be corrected this week. They were wrong.

    A much bigger oversight by the American people was electing Dubya twice… (well, only once, actually)

  • Bellj

    My parents are Christians and according to their Christian community, the worst kind imaginable. For my parents are Democrats and the most offensive, disgusting part is, they are the kind who will always vote to help the poor, the marginalized, and the oppressed. 
    Last year, after a lifetime of service to church and their beliefs, they were outed when my eighty year old Dad was kicked off the elder board. They said they “don’t want their kind here.” 
    Fast forward to a couple days ago. I asked him how he liked the election. He laughed and laughed.

  • allein

    Unfortunately, it seems a lot of them don’t *want* to be educated.

  • chanceofrainne

    I look forward to the day when the GOP is nothing more than a footnote in history.

  • Tim

    The US economy is doing much better than most of Europe.  I don’t know if Obama can take the credit for that, but plenty of countries on this side of the atlantic would love to swop economies with the USA at the moment

  • Richard Wade

    The denials of reality I’ve heard so far from Republicans:

    They lost because of superstorm Sandy.

    They lost because Obama suppressed the vote against him. (Karl Rove actually said this on Fox News)

    They lost because they didn’t express their backward, ignorant, misogynist statements and policies about rape, abortion, contraception, and women’s health care “with enough delicacy.”

    Actually, they lost because most of them were raised since early childhood to believe lies from authority figures without question, because that is a virtue they call “faith.” They lost because they were taught to repeat lies even when they know they’re lies, because that is a virtue they call “loyalty.” They lost because they think that lying for what they think is a good cause will have no bad consequences.

    They lost because they think if you believe in a fantasy strongly enough, that fantasy automatically becomes real. Even now, they are still living in their fantasy America of 1880, when only white males voted, facts could not be easily checked, nothing was regulated, we had seemingly unlimited natural resources, and pollution and environmental destruction had not caused noticeable global negative effects.

    They lost because they bought into Barry Goldwater’s maxim, “Extremism in the defense of liberty is no vice,” and they applied that to their very narrow, self-serving idea of what “liberty” means. They lost because they took the cynical attitude that with enough money, you can appeal to people’s fear, hatred, ignorance, selfishness and greed, and they will never catch on because they’re too stupid.

    They lost because reality doesn’t give a shit what lies you tell yourself, and if you don’t open your eyes, it eventually collides with you head-on.

  • No

    The popular vote is often quite close in national elections unless one candidate completely sucks (Dukakis) or just does not understand the public’s collective consciousness (Carter, Dole, and to a lesser extent, McCain). What matters, as always in our system, is the Electoral College. I may have (in hindsight, having stupidly voted for GWB) wanted Gore to win 12 years ago, but he didn’t, for a few key reasons. And if I’m not mistaken, as in 2004 when the Democrats were crying foul that the exit polls showed a very strong and potentially upsetting Kerry, Bush still won. This time the show was on the other foot, and the GOP is caught with their pants down in a field wondering what happened. Except this time, the so-called “mandate” that Rove’s forces claimed Bush had in November 2004 looks like a “light suggestion” in comparison to how much Obama trounced Romney by.

    And the other fact of this election is, the only state with a truly gargantuan population that went for Romney was Texas. Indiana and North Carolina are arguably sizable, but those two combined are less than 2/3s of Texas, and the rest of the Romney-voting states don’t even come remotely close, especially since Obama took VA, PA, FL, and OH, the only 4 options Romney had. Was it close? I suppose; it seems that way when we’re only talking a separation in numbers of 2.6-3.0 million ballots. But again, the “it was very close” argument could have been used 3 times over in 2004, and it doesn’t matter for obvious reasons.

  • Artor

    Can you explain, in practical terms, what the f$#% a mandate is supposed to mean, anyway? Bush claimed a mandate on a much smaller margin than this election, so either Obama has a stronger mandate, or the word is meaningless.

  • Gunstargreen

    My first reaction to the Tea Party’s accusation that they lost because the Republicans weren’t extreme enough was, “yes, please continue to drive the party into irrelevance with your insanity.”

  • 3lemenope

    Absent stunning victories of the truly sweeping variety, mandate is a word that, as it’s used in political punditry, is generally meaningless. At best, it’s a rhetorically punchy way of saying “elections have consequences”, which is a somewhat vacuous truism. 

  • No

    OK, that *is* funny. I wish them the best of luck as they pare off their massive religious audience that hates evolution; anything remotely having to do with climate change; stem cell research; in vitro fertilization; etc., and try to replace it with a science-savvy crowd…

  • Antinomian

    I didn’t get the memo either… Must not have been on their Christian circulation list.

  • No

    Further proving they never learn. We had 2-4 years of increasingly hard-line teabaggers coming in a feeling license to say whatever they wanted not only as if it were “common sense” gospel, but as if they’d never have to pay for a word of it because, hey, they’re the ones that really know what’s up.

    Whenever they fail, they double down. Whenever they win, they double down. That is their only response to any challenge. Reality isn’t meeting my expectations? YES IT WILL/DOES!!!

  • Greisha

     Is this guy New Yorker’s version of The Onion?

  • Greisha


  • Kevin_Of_Bangor

    Rush the blow hole keeps calling Obama, Santa Claus. He even played Christmas music a few days ago on his show. I listen to his show in the car sometimes when I need a good laugh. It is amazing the kind of false bullshit Rush will spew but again, it is good for a laugh and his callers are pretty damn funny as well.

  • No

    Your point is exactly why, I think, there is still an undercurrent of racism on the right. When you listen to every yarn they spin about how bad the opposition is, it is one hundred different worst possible dystopias they can dream up, and all of them include a “them oppressing us” factor.

    Certainly the liberal wing of politics can and has claimed similar things at times, but these tend to be much rarer, such as 9/11 trutherism (of which there are ironically a few conservative adherents of, like Jesse Ventura), and the usual, uninspired “Bush is Hitler” charge. But where is the liberal version of “Romney isn’t fit to be president because he was born in another country!” Or “Romney is running secret Mormon temples in a plan to convert all Americans!” Or “Romney is a member of the NWO intelligentsia, and is the Manchurian Candidate they selected for us to follow blindly!” Perhaps there are liberals that say this, but no Teabagger-style movement that vomits this stuff openly and expects the voters to take it seriously.

  • Coyotenose

     They sound like great people!

  • Coyotenose

     Nah, I’m an English major. I can only parrot smart things that other people say.

  • Strawnkm

    I just have to say that by definition one-half of “anything” is below average. That is the how stastics works. One half of the population will be above the average value and one half will be below.

  • Pseudonym

    Obama didn’t make the economy booming, this is true. But he also didn’t take the opportunity to, in his own words, find out whose ass to kick.

    The immediate aftermath of the economic crisis was the perfect time for Obama to reform the financial system and get the ball rolling on some convictions. He had a crapload of political capital to spend, the general public was furious at Wall St, and he didn’t need campaign financing straight away.

    Not that the other side would have done any better, of course.

  • Pseudonym

    I don’t live in the US, but I’ve seen YouTube videos of Rush Limbaugh. If I close my eyes, I can almost convince myself that he’s really Wallace Shawn doing a Stephen Colbert-style parody.

    You should try it some time. It really works.

  • pRinzler

    To say that fact as if it’s some surprising empirical finding, when it is actually a necessity given the definition of “one-half” and “average” (forgetting the subtleties), is the joke.

  • dwasifar karalahishipoor

    Not necessarily.  In fact, not even likely.  Some individuals may be exactly average; and when that occurs, you will not have one half above and one half below the average.

    Concrete example: let’s say you have a population of 10 people and their average IQ is 100.  Their individual IQs are 90, 90, 100, 100, 100, 100, 100, 100, 100, and 120.  In this population, only 10% are above average and only 20% are below average.

  • Keulan

    This guy may be the most ridiculous of all the reactions to Obama’s re-election that I’ve seen from the right-wing. He’s so butthurt over Romney’s defeat that he’s going to break off all relationships he has with any friends, family, and aquaintances that voted for Obama and other Democrats. In addition, he intends to make an ass of himself in grocery stores that accept food stamps. I can’t even fathom how someone can react that way to their candidate losing an election.

  • TheBlackCat

     Ironically, as far as I have have seen it seems like most of the allegations of vote suppression were against Republicans.

  • TheBlackCat

     Again, it seems like most of the problem with Romney’s Mormonism came from the right, he was the “wrong sort of Christian” or something like that.

  • Jinx

    Here’s GOP extremism mixed with the far right’s idea of “science.”


    “Am I suggesting that the recent presidential election was stolen through voter fraud and manipulation?

    Without a doubt.

    Do I have evidence?

    Yes, I have plenty of anecdotal evidence.”

    Dude, that pretty much proves you don’t have real evidence and don’t have a clue what evidence means.


  • Gribblethemunchkin

    Of course there are liberal conspiracy nutcases, but the difference lies in that the democrats don’t nominate them as candidates or even give them the time of day. They are truly marginalised and rightly so. The republicans however embrace their kooks, put them up for office and fund them. They use their rage and energy to whip up the faithful while seemingly not noticing that many otherwise quite coservative (small c) people are turned off by this.

  • Gribblethemunchkin

    Sorry I’m a stats guy, its impossible to fix. half your population will ALWAYS be below average on both intelligence and education. Thats how averages work :)
    Might be better to say under educated instead.

  • Baal

     I’ve started thinking about this issue of intentional blatant hypocrisy by the Republicans as the ‘google rule’.  It’s like they get a report of the most common negative search terms that are used with Republican and then make up as much noise as possible using those terms and popular left leaning terms like “obama” “democrat” etc. 

  • Antinomian

    “In the distant future, the year 2032 Tea party political ad…”

    “Vote Oog president of cave or me bash you over head”

  • Baal

     Mostly true.  The one caveat is that the 2010 elections allowed (R) to cement a pro-republican House through gerrymandering.  If the 2012 election we just had was counted with the maps in place in 2010 (pre-redistricting) the (D) would have easily retaken the House.

  • Elricthemad

    Straight, white, Christian men over 40; I have an unpleasant reality check for you. You are now a minority. And if the rational, progressive majority has anything to say about it you will rapidly become a marginalized minority. Payback is a bitch. 

  • No

    That was Romney’s problem late last year and early this year when he was up against Santorum and Gingrich, who the right recognizes as being Christian/god-ferrin’ without question. Those two candidates, in trying to launch themselves into the GOP candidacy, played that card against Romney and had surrogates openly question Romney’s religion and label it a cult. It certainly hurt Romney in the primary, as he basically spent his way into the candidacy, and even then barely got through. Did it hurt him in the general election? I think it did to a much lesser degree, but not because the Democrats harped on it. The attacks from the right I think stuck on that particular subject, but I don’t think they were the deciding factor in the election for those that voted for him.

    The GOP did as I figured they would: Fall in line behind Romney, because he’s the candidate, and what else are they going to do to prep for the general election? Redo the primary because they don’t like who they got? And as I knew they would, Christians of conservative stripes came out and found “common ground” with the Mormonism that they wouldn’t give a second thought or good word to any other day of the week, but for Romney being the presidential candidate. The flip-flopping on that score was just confirmation of what was obvious: They’d subvert the principles they said they’d stand on to give Romney support. The Billy Graham endorsement a couple weeks before the election made that obvious. I actually defended Romney’s religion a few times, saying it wasn’t any more culty than anyone else’s religion; but I knew they’d attack him for that. In hindsight, religion wasn’t Romney’s biggest problem, by far. To me that discussion seemed to pretty much disappear once June came around.

  • eonL5

    It’s Andy Borowitz, so, basically, and in a much milder vein, yes. He has his own web site, too… Sorry — HAD. It’s now a New Yorker blog page:

  • Neil

    The sadly ironic part is, churches, especially in places where churches are a major part of the social safety net,  truly need folks like your parents….whereas folks like your parents have only a minimal need, if any, for the church that now despises them.  

    The far-right wing of American religion and politics is in the midst of cultural suicide.  It’s sad but it seems to be necessary, and my only hope is that they don’t take too many others out with them.

  • Neil

    How do you know?  He doesn’t have to tell you who he’s dating, though he can if he wants to!

    Seriously though…if winning by a handy margin, and regaining seats in both houses isn’t a mandate, then NO president has ever had one, not even St. Reagan and his legendary “landslide”. 

    And why does the country being divided mean there can’t be a mandate?  Quite frankly, all votes may be equal, but all ideas are manifestly NOT equal.   Lincoln certainly had no mandate by the criteria of votes alone, but I’m pretty sure he and his supporters felt differently enough to put forth their own mandate.  And that is where I see America heading….not another civil war, but a time when responsible people just have to say “NO!” to the batshit lunacy and the poisonous “exceptionalism” of the far-right.  There are too many voting Americans with enough education and enough of a conscience, that the regressives are just going to have to suck it up and deal with a little liberalism.


  • Deven Kale

    I’ve been trying and trying to figure this out, but I just can’t understand it. What the hell is a Presidential mandate? What does it mean to say Obama does/doesn’t have one, and why does it even matter anyway?

  • Bellj

    Very true. Even though I don’t share their beliefs, I was quite upset at the way they were treated. But they are just fine. They have remained the same good people they always were. 
    I also see destabilization going on in the Christian community as the good ones are leaving. It’s an interesting sociological process to watch. 

  • Dietrich

    Half the population will be below the median, but not necessarily below the average.

  • Sandy Kokch

    I can assure you my American chums that you do NOT have a socialist blah blah blah.

    You have a political system that, by all other standards in the West, has two forms of conservatism. Progressive Conservatism (the Dems) and Ultra Conservatism (The Reps). You have a centre right party, and an ultra right party….or as Lewis Black so accurately portrayed it one bowl of s**t screaming abuse at its reflection in a mirror.

    When you think you have Socialism give us Brits a call – we will happily point out what the word means, and dispel any delusions you may have that you are living in a socialist country.  Any Swede, German or French mate can also help you out if theres no Brit available.

    Yes you do have some socialist policies such as subsidies, bail outs and welfare. But till you have the big boy – universal healthcare – you dont get to wear the beret, do the Che stare of destiny, and sing the Internationale.

    O Kay??????

  • The Other Weirdo

     One half of all people world-wide are below-average intelligence.

  • pRinzler

    Very astute!  But can you show your work?

  • The Other Weirdo

    Reminds me of the scene in “Kung Pao: Enter the Fist”. Sees baby rolling down a hill, stoops to pick it up and rock it for a few moments. “Aww, how cute.” Then chucks the baby down the next hill.

  • Sue Blue

    I don’t expect any radical changes in the Republican platform or their tactics.  In fact, I expect that they’ll just double-down on dumb, because, according to some rightwing pundits, Republicans weren’t dumb (“conservative”) enough.  For instance, instead of admitting they were wrong to denigrate women and ignore minorities, thus alienating a huge portion of the voting population, they’d think the solution is to try to take the vote away from women and minorities.    In case you’re laughing, some Republicans have actually suggested that – and, in the case of Latinos and African-Americans, actually tried it.  

  • brianmacker

    What makes the few percent loss so astounding is how horribly Obama has been screwing up the economy.   He will continue in his second term.   He’s worse than Bush by a factor of three, and is essentially Bush on steroids.    Bush won reelection also.   The country is going in the toilet because nobody is willing to admit the obvious, we have been bankrupt by both the Democrats and the Republicans.