Now that the US government shutdown is over, I have been thinking about the motivations of the Republicans, particularly the Tea Party wing, in orchestrating this particular crisis. Of course, my bias is showing now. But, from what I can tell, the Tea Party wing simply created a crisis out of the whole cloth, and marched us all the way down to the wire, before finally conceding defeat.
The interesting question is why would anyone want to do that? It’s simple really. The Republican Party is doomed, unless it fundamentally reinvents itself. This is due to the relentless march of demographics. The Republican Party (and particularly the Tea Party minority) are:
For those reading my blog right now, if that sounds good to you, trust me, it isn’t. The problem is that the country is slowly but surely becoming:
- Ethnic (i.e. non-caucasian)
- Female (in the sense of registered voters)
- Secular (i.e. non-religious)
In every respect, the demographic trends are hurting the Republicans, and benefitting the Democrats. Like I said, it’s relentless. Eventually, unless the Republican Party fundamentally changes (and in the process becomes more similar to the Democratic Party) it will simply vanish. Once the Republican Party can no longer successfully compete for the Presidency, and the trend in both houses of Congress becomes clear, then the Republican Party could simply fade away. I think that’s very unlikely, though. The more likely scenario is that the Republican Party will simply become more, well, liberal.
Of course, that’s anathema to the Tea Party Republicans who have been called the American Taliban. Like the Taliban, many of the Tea Party folks are willing to do something I call “burning down the house“. A jealous ex-wife or ex-husband will often attempt to burn down the former family home, upon learning that it has been invaded by the ex-spouse’s new main squeeze. In a similar manner, the Tea Party may decide that if the Republican Party throws it out of the political process, it needs to become more radical.
That may lead to an insurgency. It is apparent from countries like Iran and Afghanistan that if a sufficiently large minority of the population does not want the current government to succeed, they can certainly sabotage that success. Is that what the Tea Party has come to?