Candidates from Beyond the Absurd
The American political system is so broken these years that it has become impossible even to guess where to begin an attempt to fix it. There are just TOO many problems and flaws. Some of the systematic problems afflict both sides, and those are going to be especially hard to cure, because both sides are in effect equally committed to NOT curing them, which means it doesn't even matter how elections turn out since the so-called winners will have won because of taking advantage of the problems. Campaign finance and gerrymandering, I'm talking to you. However, some of the problems are sort of within the scope of influence of the voters. Kind of laughable to imagine putting anything within the actual control of the actual voters, eh? Perhaps that is the real sickness of the American political system?
The so-called democratic or even republican thesis so far is that it makes sense to begin with the problems that can be influenced by the results of the actual elections. Maybe we can get some reform by a focus on the places where there are clear differences between the political parties? In those places, the voters may actually have some influence, at least in theory. I've written elsewhere (though I can't find the comments so as to include a link or two) why the American political system is a winner-take-all system that essentially reduces to two parties, so I'm just going to take that as a given and focus on one of the key differences between the two main parties: Today's so-called Republican Party nominates nuts.
There are two proximate data sources that motivate me to address the topic now. One provocation was a recent final new rule from Bill Maher on the disastrous legacy of Ronald Reagan. [That's a transcript link on the HBO website, but I don't currently know of a video link that looks reliable, though he delivered it quite well.] The second provocation was reading Tina Fey's fairly recent book Bossypants, which included quite a bit about her comic impersonations of Sarah Palin during the 2008 presidential campaign. These are just examples of the general thesis that the neo-GOP can and does nominate incredibly unqualified candidates, even for national offices. Two other examples are Dubya Bush and Dan Quayle.
There have been some competent Republican candidates, too--but as far as the neo-GOP partisans are concerned, those competent candidates are regarded as failures or losers or both, and therefore the obvious prediction is that the quality of so-called Republican nominees is going to continue to decline--if that's possible. In other words, the lesson the neo-GOP has learned from candidates like Romney, McCain, Bob Dole, and even Poppy Bush is that they were too competent and not sufficiently extremist. Many of them believe it was precisely because of his hand-on competence that Nixon himself was hounded out of office.
It might be nice if the self-immolation of the neo-GOP was going to help the nation, but there is little evidence of that. Instead, we are likely to have a collapse into permanent control of the White House by the Democratic Party, with Congress going the same way once the mathematical limits of gerrymandering are passed. Hopefully I'm wrong, but I think one-party rule is going to be disastrous, even if that party starts with the best of intentions... At least that's what the historical record indicates.
There's a need to clarify the use of "so-called" and "neo-GOP". That's because the modern neo-GOP is just borrowing the brand name, but there is no real connection the the progressive Republican Party of Abraham Lincoln or the rationally balanced conservative GOP of Teddy Roosevelt and his ilk.