Who will win the battle for the soul of the GOP? Will it be the establishment or the tea party? The libertarians or the social conservatives?
Well, after watching all sides battle it out at the Conservative Political Action Conference, I have come to a definitive conclusion. Are you ready? Here is the answer: It doesn’t matter.
That’s right, who wins and who loses in the fight for control of the Republican Party is totally irrelevant. Sure it’s a fun parlor game to look at whose up and whose down in the Ted Cruz/Rand Paul showdown.
Wait, no it’s not. It’s a terrible parlor game.
If you care about the future of this country the Republican Party machinations are of no consequence. There are a few reasons, first look at this graph. There’s an unprecedented gap between the voting preferences of young voters and everyone else. Millennials may not be crazy about self-identifying as Democrats but whatever they call themselves, they’re liberal. They are much more likely to vote Democratic than older generations. So Republicans, do you know why in 5 of the last 6 presidential elections you’ve lost the popular vote? It’s because every year the electorate is becoming more influenced by the millennials who are more liberal than any other modern generation and (sorry GOP) are staying that way. To paraphrase Sally Field at her Oscar win, they don’t like you, they really don’t like you.
And who can blame them! Republicans, the second reason why the GOP is irrelevant is because your economic ideology is toast. Debunked. Discredited. Your intellectual heavy-hitter is Paul Ryan. Paul Ryan! You’ve been flailing around in the house that Reagan built for three decades and still haven’t realized it’s just an empty frame with no foundation. Come back to me when you have some actual evidence for your economic ideology and no, Ayn Rand novels don’t count.
Nope. Republicans and their deck chair shifting civil war don’t matter. If you’re interested in where the country goes from here, the action is all on the Democratic side. And while our own internal divide is less noisy than the Republican one, it’s just as real and way more important. This divide, the one that counts is between the pro-corporate Democrats and the pro-worker Democrats. It’s pretty easy to tell which are which. In their BEST incarnation, the pro-corporate Democrats do Wall Street and corporate America’s bidding while doing the best they can to shore up the safety net so that when working folks are inevitably abused by big banks and big business, at least there’s something of a net to catch them. Pro-worker Democrats want to stop the abuse in the first place and keep and expand the safety net just in case those protections fail.
When pro-corporate Dems get their way, as they have in Democratic politics for the past 22 years, inequality rises. And when inequality rises, the power of the plutocracy rises. And when plutocrats call the shots, like they do now, the safety net gets it. Plutocrats it turns out, don’t much care for supporting the workers on whose backs they earn their riches. So even though corporate democrats may be well intentioned, their policies lead to a toxic brew of money, plutocracy and power that shreds the safety net, strips workers of their rights and hollows out the middle class. The plutocracy’s wish is their command.
Now to be clear, either type of Democrat is a million times better than the folks the GOP has on offer. But that’s a pretty low bar. Time to expect more, to demand more. Do we want a society governed for the needs of the many or the desires of the few? I know which side of the battle I’m on. Do you?