US politics in the next couple decades: the most plausible prediction I’ve seen

A couple days ago, Ed Brayton blogged about about something I’ve been thinking about for awhile, doing a really good job of expressing why American politics is so weird right now. Then one of his readers chimed in with a pretty convincing account of what happens next. First, Ed:

I’ve been saying for a while now that the Republican party is in a real bind. Shifts in demographics and public opinion are going to force them to moderate their positions on issues like gay rights and immigration, but doing so will inevitably mean that a portion of the religious right leaves for a third party.

Now the reader’s comment:

In Canada, we went through the “Right-wing-is-not-conservative/religious-enough” shift way back in the late 80′s and early 90′s. This resulted in the wingnuts forming their own party (Reform Party), then realizing that they were splitting the right wing vote, then realizing they had to at least appear sane in order to win an election, then bringing Conservatives back under the same umbrella- then finally winning an election 15 or so years later. It doesn’t take long for the wingnuts to figure out that they can’t actually win elections by telling the truth.

The result is a Conservative Party that is better at looking sane and hiding their ideologues.

The good news is that if this happens in the US, you will get a short repreive from insanity, followed by a Republican Party that is not going to wear intolerance on its sleeve.

The bad news is that you will have to face a Republican Party that has learned to dress the hateful thugs in popular clothes.

It’s really hard for me to guess how this crazy situation will resolve itself, but that’s the most plausible prediction I’ve heard so far.