This was in this morning's NY Times:


"Republicans have their work cut out for them. Americans identifying themselves as Democrats outnumber those who say they are Republicans by 10 percentage points, the largest gap in party identification in 24 years. The gap has widened significantly since President George W. Bush’s re-election in 2004, when it was a mere 3 percentage points. But by the time Mr. Bush left office in January, less than a quarter of Americans approved of his performance."

And that drop doesn't even include Americans under the age of 30 who have yet to form strong partisan ties.

Okay, so everyone's asking these days what's happened to the Republican Party? If you have been following the speeches at the CPAC ("Conservative Political Action Committee") convention, by now it must seem as if the party has devolved to the point where the gathering of top conservatives most resembles the group therapy scenes in "One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest." What with Michelle Bachmann, Rush Limbaugh and Joe the Plumber as headline speakers, they've started to make Sarah "Wilma Flintstone" Palin look intelligent. I mean, who's going to be the next rising star of the GOP, Nadya Suleman?!But the real answer to the question of what's happened to the Republican Party is... nothing. Nothing has happened. That's the point. The GOP hasn't really changed since Barry Goldwater ran for president in 1964. Think about the succession of characters who've run for the highest office since Barry G, and have actually won, presumably representing the cream of the crop: Nixon (twice), Reagan (twice), Bush, Sr. (once) and Bush, Jr. (twice).

Think about that list. It's amazing! No signs whatsoever of evolution. When Goldwater ran, I was ten years old. Have I grown since then? How old were you in 1964? How much have you grown since the Beatles first appeared on Ed Sullivan?

It reminds me of a great scene in the Spencer Tracy film about evolution, "Inherit The Wind." Tracy's character is confronted by his old friend, a staunch creationist played by Fredric March, about the loss of their friendship. The right wing guy asks Tracy why he moved away from the close relationship they once had. Tracy's character says, "It wasn't me, but you who moved away by standing still." In other words, not changing, not growing is the way March's character abandoned Tracy's. Likewise, it is not the American people who have abandoned the Republican Party as much as it is the GOP that has abandoned America. By not changing.

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