About 65.5 million years ago something happened to the environment to which the dinosaurs could not adapt and they essentially disappeared from the earth’s surface. They had existed for about 135 million years as a successful species on this planet. Could the present day Republicans be similar to the dinosaurs? Could they be on the verge of an environmental disaster? Are they holding to absolute positions that have not only been largely repudiated by the general public, but that they insist on retaining regardless of their constituents being against these positions?
Since the end of the 2012 Presidential Election the Republican Party seems to be in a strong state of denial about the results. According to statements and positions held by its members in Congress, Fox News, and by assorted Tea Party type individuals, one would think they won the election. Will reality ever set in, at least in Congress, or will the government continue to be dysfunctional? Because the Republicans still hold a majority in the House of Representatives and the ability to filibuster any bill or appointment in the Senate we could conceivably face two more years of gridlock in Congress with virtually no positive legislation being passed. If that were to happen the results in the 2014 Midterm Election would be very interesting. The Republicans could argue themselves out of existence and the U.S. could end up as a one political party country.
The Founding Fathers in establishing the Constitution had no thought about the establishment of political parties. Yet in the first Presidential Election George Washington ran as a Federalist. For the first three Presidential Administrations the Federalist Party, the one dealing with the moneyed classes, was the major party. In the Election of 1800 John Adams ran against Thomas Jefferson. Jefferson established the Republican Party, which was sardonically renamed the Democratic-Republican Party by the Federalists, and later became simply the Democratic Party. The campaign was bitterly fought with each side convinced that the nation would collapse if the other side triumphed. Thomas Jefferson won that election. The Federalists were never able to mount another presidential election. Shortly afterwards they disappeared as a political entity.
From 1800 to 1828, the Era of Good Feeling, the country had essentially one major political party, the Democratic-Republican Party. In 1828 the party split into two parts: the Jacksonian Democrats, which favored a strong presidency and greater democracy for the common man, and which became the modern Democratic Party; and the Whig Party, headed by Henry Clay, which believed in the primacy of Congress over the executive branch, and also in modernization and economic protectionism. The Whig Party collapsed in 1850, both over the death of its leadership and the issue of slavery. In 1854 the Anti-Slavery Republican Party came into being. It adopted many of the economic policies of the Whigs, backing national banks, business growth, railroad expansion, and high tariffs. From that point on, with minor changes in their positions, the current political parties have existed. Today we could, conceivably, be heading toward another “Era of Good Feeling.”
In 1964 Barry Goldwater ran against Lyndon Baines Johnson for the presidency of the United States. Goldwater was an ultra conservative candidate, the first since the end of World War II. He had the support of the far right, about 22% of the voting population. His slogan was, “In your heart you know he’s right.” Goldwater lost that election, achieving 22% of the popular vote.
Traditionally there has been a wide spectrum going from right to left over a wide expanse. The Republicans have gone from the far right, always across slightly to the left of center. The Democrats have moved from the far left slightly past center. Jimmy Carter, who served as president from 1976 to 1980, was a conservative Democrat whose place on the spectrum would be slightly to the right of center. Nelson Rockefeller, who was appointed Vice President in 1974 by President Gerald R. Ford after Richard M. Nixon resigned from the high office, was a liberal Republican who was slightly to the left of the center of the spectrum. In fact the ultra conservative wing of the Republican Party opposed his appointment. The rest of the Republican Party tended to be all over the right side of the spectrum with some being more liberal than conservative Democrats, and with only a small percentage at the extreme right.
Since that time, in a very leisurely fashion, the extreme right has been able to gain control to the Republican Party. They have done so essentially through the use of money. It takes a large amount of currency to run for public office. Today one of the main functions of a politician is to continually raise money for his/her campaign. The major fundraisers like Eric I. Canter have inordinate amounts of power within their party. They also owe quite a bit to their major contributors.
Do politicians today owe more allegiance to their major contributors than to their constituents? When does a contribution become a bribe? These are interesting questions and need to be addressed by the same Congress that is dependent upon these contributors.
The dinosaurs died out because of massive changes in their environment to which they could not adjust; the Republicans could do the same because of similar changes to the evolving demographics of the nation, which they cannot accept or to which they cannot adjust.