The Republican Party Falls Apart, the Democrats Get Stuck

Photo by DonkeyHotey | Public Domain

The Republican Party has been falling apart for at least 54 years. The official start of this process can be dated to 1964, when the conservative Republican Barry Goldwater captured the GOP nomination for president. When asked his plans if elected, he replied, “I do not plan to pass laws. I plan to repeal them.”  That was a signal that he was intent on changing the role of government. His goal was to narrow the government down to the basic tasks of defending the realm (the military), enforcing a diminishing number of federal laws (the courts), and providing only those few necessary services that the “free market” could not take care of. This goal would, theoretically, reduce taxes to a minimum and increase individual “freedom” to a maximum. Goldwater did not win the election, but he did get nearly 40% of the vote. For those who at the time believed in an active role for government (as Democrats say they do) this should have been a red flag.

Goldwater conservatism has survived in the Tea Party phenomenon that has, subsequently, torn the Republican Party apart. The uncompromising nature of Tea Party politics has purged the Republican Party of its moderates—those willing to meet Democrats halfway so as to keep the federal government viable. However, because the unraveling of the party was an essentially uncontrolled process, it opened the way for more than just those interested in minimalist government. It opened the way…

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