Earlier this week, I wrote that rather than waiting for Republicans to come to their senses, Democrats ought to instead work on destroying them. That resulted in folks asking me “Dude, are you serious?” There’s always logic to what I write. Here’s mine.
We’ve known for a long time (read Before the Storm and Nixonland by my friend Rick Perlstein if you’re dubious) that the modern Republican Party thinks that Democrats are inherently illegitimate. That’s to say, Republicans believe that the only legitimate government is their own.
That’s why they fought so hard in Florida in 2000, why they seek to disenfranchise Democratic base votes, why they vilify Democrats, so on and so forth.
This isn’t about policy differences. This is about raw power. Republicans, simply put, don’t think that Democrats should exist. Again, this isn’t a brilliant flash of insight – Perlstein laid it all out in his two books (and you should read them – clicking on the link takes you to Amazon, where you can buy said books! See, all nice ‘n’ easy!).
The problem that were faced with, though, is even simpler:
Republicans don’t think Democrats are legitimate, but Democrats think Republicans are legitimate.
That’s why you see so many people wanting bipartisanship and compromise, even though it’s impossible given the state of affairs.
Here’s how I bet the thought process works, roughly, in the general population.
Independents: “Well, we’ve always had two parties, and I think they should put their differences aside and just work together to fix our problems.”
Democrats: “I’d love to tell Republicans “off you fuck”, but I guess we should give ‘em a chance to say their piece, then move forward. They are 40% of the country, after all.”
Republicans: “Fuck the Democrats. We’d still be running things if it weren’t for ACORN rigging the elections with all that voter fraud.”
There’s two ways to resolve this crisis:
- Get Republicans to think that Democrats are legitimate. Yeah, good luck, sport. Did I mention that Research 2000/Daily Kos poll of 2,000 Republicans across the country? Take a gander at the results and then ask yourself if that’s even remotely likely. Right, I thought so.
- Quit thinking that Republicans are a legitimate party.
Here’s the problem with the latter, and why I think we’re heading towards a nasty knockup. When neither party thinks the other is a legitimate governing party, your civil institutions tend to break down. That’s already happened once in American history, and it wasn’t pretty, to say the least.
I don’t claim to have an answer here. To paraphrase Lincoln, though, a house divided against itself cannot stand. I believe that this government cannot endure, permanently half legitimate and half illegitimate. It’ll become all one thing or all the other. Either Republicans will accept that Democrats are a legitimate party, or they will cease to exist.