The Imminent Demise of the Republican Party
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Published on Wednesday, January 12, 2005 by CommonDreams.org
The Imminent Demise of the Republican Party
by David W. Orr
|Following the election of 2004, much has been made of the weaknesses of the
Democratic Party, even its possible end. But it has escaped the notice of
our blow-dry television pundits and political observers alike that the
Republican Party, in the full blush of triumph in control of all the
branches of government and large sections of the media, stands on the edge
of certain extinction. The reasons grow daily more evident. Over the past
three decades, the moderate, business-oriented party of Lincoln, Theodore
Roosevelt, and Dwight Eisenhower was captured by its extreme right-wing
thereby becoming a party dominated by ideologues, increasingly divorced
from unmovable facts. But no organization, political party, or nation can
long survive by ignoring realities of ecology, social justice, law,
economics, and true security. Sooner or later, it will step off the
proverbial curb into onrushing traffic of events, forces, and trends that
it refused to see.
The Republican Party has already stepped into the road.
The question is not whether it will survive as presently constituted, but
what else will be destroyed as it collapses in ruin and ignominy, sooner
than later. Beneath the noisy spin of its media echo chamber, the true
platform of the Republican Party, its future epitaph, is founded on denial.
The rules of the Republican Party of George Bush, Dick Cheney, Karl Rove,
Tom Delay, and their brethren are these:
- Deny science when its findings are not agreeable to your base.
Republicans, notably, are on the wrong side of the largest issue in human
history: human driven, rapid climate change. They’ve chosen instead to live
in a Crichton-esque science fiction fantasy in which real science has no
standing and human actions have no tragic, irreversible, and global
ecological consequences. This is not just boneheaded, it is a form of
criminality for which we have, as yet, no adequate words.
- Deny the looming approach of peak oil extraction thereby advancing the
potential of economic, political, and social chaos when global oil supply
and demand diverge as soon they will.
- Deny the proven potential of superior technologies, design strategies,
and policies that would move the country toward energy efficiency and a
secure energy base of solar and wind power as well as the reasons of
self-interest and economic advantage for doing so.
- Deny the true costs of air and water pollution thereby undermining the
health of Americans.
- Deny the human and economic effects of pandering to the wealthy, thereby
undermining social cohesion and the sense of fairness?historically, often a
prelude to societal breakdown and revolution.
- Deny any and all mistakes, bad judgment, and corruption, relying on spin
not truth and thereby building a solid reputation for mendacity and
- Deny the limitations of military power to impose order on a recalcitrant
world and thereby condemn the U.S. to a future of international isolation,
conflict, and endless terrorism.
- Deny the great vulnerability of the American infrastructure to malice,
malfeasance, and acts of God, thereby laying the groundwork for a future of
- Deny the necessity for civil discourse, honesty, and transparency in the
conduct of public life, thereby holding the citizenry in contempt and
promoting a spirit of meanness.
- Deny without admitting it the democratic values of the country enshrined
in the Declaration of Independence, the Constitution and Bill of Rights,
the Gettysburg Address, and the Four Freedoms of Franklin Roosevelt,
thereby undermining democracy at home while purportedly fighting for it in
The Republican Party has chosen to deny social, ecological, cultural,
religious, and economic realities which are unavoidably complicated,
complex, diverse, ironic, and paradoxical. Instead they have chosen to make
their own simplistic, ideological, and chauvinistic fantasy world that has
little affinity for law, science, a free and independent press, fairness,
true security, ecological sustainability, and the accountability that is
requisite for genuine democracy.
That fantasy is on the cusp of becoming a
real life nightmare. Having made the United States a large bulls’ eye for
terrorists and malcontents, it may implode catastrophically taking much
else with it. It may come undone more gradually, but no less
catastrophically, as the economy sinks under the weight of war debt and
foolish tax cuts. It may be overthrown if and when thoughtful conservatives
disturbed by fiscal recklessness and imperial pretensions, all honest
persons offended by mendacity, bombast, criminality, conniving, and
diversion, and all Christians sufficiently alert to notice the discrepancy
between the words and life of the “Prince of Peace” and our foreign and
domestic policies finally shift alignments. It may take longer as the die
of climate change and ecological deterioration is finally cast and we
trigger adverse global changes of which we have been often warned. Unlikely
as it seems, in a different scenario the Republican nightmare still could
be averted by an effective, committed, agile, and strategic opposition
smart enough to recognize the historic convergence of opportunity,
patriotic duty, sheer necessity.
David Orr (David.Orr@oberlin.edu) is a Paul Sears Distinguished Professor at Oberlin College. Author of The Last
Refuge (Island Press, 2004).