There was no shortage of prominent Republican voices questioning the direction of their party over the weekend. For example, Michael Steele, the former chair of the Republican National Committee, said on MSNBC yesterday that his party has "sunken to the lowest of lows" by treating Donald Trump as its "savior."
Around the same time, Maryland Gov. Larry Hogan (R) told NBC News his party is becoming a "circular firing squad." He added, "It bothers me you have to swear fealty to the Dear Leader or you get kicked out of the party."
And then there was Rep. Adam Kinzinger (R-Ill.), appearing on CBS, offering a memorable analogy about the state of the contemporary GOP.
"I mean, right now it's basically like we're the Titanic. We're in the middle of this slow sink, there's a band on deck telling everyone it's fine, meanwhile Donald Trump is looking for women's clothing trying to get on the first lifeboat," he said.
The Illinois Republican, who supported Trump's impeachment in January, added, "I think there's a few of us that are just saying, 'Guys, this is not good, not just for the future of the party, but this is not good for the future of this country."
I can imagine some Republican opponents finding all of this quite satisfying -- especially the idea that the contemporary GOP is comparable to the Titanic. And for intra-party critics of their own party, folks like Steele, Hogan, and Kinzinger aren't wrong: in 2021, the Republican Party has no policy agenda, no credible answers to the major challenges facing the party, and has been reduced to obsessive fealty to a failed, twice impeached former one-term president.
All of this, of course, comes just six months after the GOP also lost the White House, lost the Senate, and came up short in its bid to win back the House. For someone like Kinzinger, the feeling that his party is "in the middle of this slow sink" is understandable.
But before James Cameron starts sending cameras to the bottom of the ocean, looking for the wreckage of the U.S.S. Republican Party, I'm struck by how well positioned this sinking party is right now.
Given historical models, the GOP is likely to take control of at least one chamber of Congress next year, if not both. Most of the nation's governors, meanwhile, are Republicans, and most of the nation's state legislatures have Republican majorities. This will serve the party well when it comes to drawing post-census district lines -- which is to say, when the GOP's gerrymandering efforts kick into gear.
Meanwhile, the Republican Party may not have a policy agenda or any meaningful interest in governing, but it's in the process of approving voter-suppression measures in several key states, which are designed to keep GOP officials in power, whether the electorate likes it or not.
If Democrats felt a degree of comfort after seeing Kinzinger say his own party is "basically like the Titanic," they're missing the bigger picture. The Republican Party may be a mess right now, but that won't necessarily prevent the GOP from making key gains in the very near future.
Update: In case this isn't obvious, there were similar conversations underway at this point in 2009. As a new Democratic president and a Democratic-led Congress focused on governing, Republicans lacked leaders, ideas, proposals, and any sense of direction. The GOP was rewarded by voters anyway in 2010.