OK, the 2012 election will be a watershed, not because Barack Obama will win re-election, but because we will witness the destruction of the Republican party as we know it.
David Frum lays out the various scenarios here.
You’ll notice that, even the positions where he has Republicans winning, the road is much tougher than it is for Obama. For example, assume Mitt Romney is nominated. He has a hard time corraling 30% of the GOP vote now in the primaries. That lack of enthusiasm will work against him, as it did McCain, in 2012. It’s unlikely that a candidate who can’t pull a third of his own party a year out will win an election against a popular center-right Democrat.
If Romney is nominated and loses the general (the most likely scenario,) the Tea Party could bolt the Republican party completely. “See? We told you. Nominate someone we don’t like, and he loses. It’s happened twice now!”
And if by some dint of luck, a Teabagger like Perry or Palin is nominated, and loses, the establishment Republicans will throw their hands up in disgust. It will be a cold day in hell before the moneymen start ponying up for the party, prefering to sit it out and wait for a better crop of candidate to pop up.
But who? Marco Rubio, the Senator from Florida has his own “birther” issues, and if the Teabaggers do succeed in getting one of their own in, they will effectively gain control of the machinery. Rubio will be dead in the water. Rick “Lex Luthor” Scott? Not particularly popular even in his own state, and a similar problem faces Scott Walker.
They’d have to dig very very deep to find a plausible candidate in 2016. It’s possible that Jeb Bush could make a run at rehabilitating the Bush name in time for that election, and there’s always the Chris Christie card (but then, Christie will have had another four years to alienate his own state, yet again.)
And if you think on the final possibility, the impossible possibility of a Teabagger winning the election, we’ll be stuck with four years of internal bickering that makes the battle between Democrats and Republicans look like a sandbox squabble.
While the nation burns.
The backdrop to all these machinations is the very collapse of American society, something Niall Ferguson gets into in his Daily Beast column. I rarely agree with his conclusions, but I think his analysis has some merit. It’s very likely that we are watching the destruction of America as a society as we knew it. Not in the Roman fashion, with Vandal and Visigoth invaders, but in the manner of the Soviet Union, crushed under the weight of its own hubris and inability to understand jus thow devastated its citizenry was.
Complete with our own Solidarity movement, the Occupy Wall Streeters.
Ferguson breaks down the rise of western society around the 1500s into five separate sectors (what he clumsily calls “killer apps”.) How many of these still apply to America, much less the west?
Western societies divided into competing factions, leading to progressive improvements.
THE SCIENTIFIC REVOLUTION
Breakthroughs in mathematics, astronomy, physics, chemistry, and biology.
THE RULE OF LAW
Representative government based on private-property rights and democratic elections.
19th- and 20th-century advances in germ theory, antibiotics, and anesthesia.
THE CONSUMER SOCIETY
Leaps in productivity combined with widespread demand for more, better, and cheaper goods.
THE WORK ETHIC
Combination of intensive labor with higher savings rates, permitting sustained capital accumulation.
We no longer have competition that grows us, ours divides us. Competition towards growth has been stifled by the very “capitalist system” we espouse. We no longer lead the world in scientific breakthroughs, altho this is less true in Europe than it is here. Law in America is a joke, as it can be bought and malleated by corporate money. Medicine, we may still lead the way in terms of quality of care, but that care is all but unaffordable and our research labs are dry as a bone for medical advances, having lost most of our good doctors back to the nations they came from (China, Korea, India.)
Consumer society speaks for itself. We’ve borrowed ourselves, at the behest of our corporate overlords, into bankruptcy.
And the work ethic is a sham. Americans work longer hours and are more productive not because they want to be competitive. They do that just to keep up the standard of living they’ve had for the past thirty years– in other words, paying off that massive debt. They aren’t earning more money for their efforts and there’s no incentive to work any harder or more efficiently beyond that.
This, too, will impact the Republican party, the one most visibly tied to the failed capitalist system that we claim to espouse, the party with the closest ties to the corporatocracy that has killed America.