Nothing succeeds like success, and nothing fails like failure. A political party that is disloyal and disrespectful toward its core constituents, as the GOP was during the Bush/Mehlman era, will not attract new adherents. Who wants to sign up to be treated like a doormat?
The Bush-era GOP believed that its base would be satisfied with superficial gestures (e.g., the Terri Schiavo drama) and ignore the party leadership's pursuit of policies (e.g., McCain-Feingold, No Child Left Behind, Medicare Part D) which were directly at odds with the party's fundamental principles.
This perverse conception of one-way loyalty -- where the underlings are expected to show a loyalty toward the elite that the elite is never required to reciprocate -- is characteristic of any dysfunctional organization. "The beatings will continue until morale improves!"
It's bad enough when this sadistic mentality prevails in the workplace, but at least the demoralized workers have the incentive of a paycheck to keep them showing up to endure more abuse every day. It is impossible, however, to make this top-down, hierarchical, control-freak approach work in a voluntary association, such as a political organization.
The GOP Teke House
Success attracts, failure repulses. During the long ascendancy of the Republican Party (1980-2006), the reins of leadership gradually fell into the hands of people who were more interested in wielding power than in pursuing the limited-government principles that originally motivated the ascendancy.
So long as the GOP maintained the prestige of victory, it continually attracted new adherents eager to climb aboard the bandwagon, and the leadership could act like the officers of the most popular fraternity on campus: Admitting legacies, offering membership only to the most popular freshmen, playing favorites and remorselessly hazing the pledges, secure in the knowledge that aspiring members would suffer all manner of abuse to secure the privilege of boasting, "I am a Teke!"
This approach "worked" as long as (a) the general political landscape favored the GOP, and (b) Democrats were operating on the same basic plan. With the likes of Bob Shrum and Al From as the Democratic Party's "brain trust," Republicans could get away with all manner of tactical blunders and strategic blindness and still stand a reasonable chance of winning election. Rank-and-file Democrats became demoralized and began to accept their status as permanent losers. We now recall with an ironic smile how many liberals wet their pants at those 2004 "values voters" exit polls in Ohio.
But a few clever Democrats did not panic. They analyzed correctly the source of their woes -- the Establishment thinking that had insisted that John Kerry was a more viable presidential candidate than Howard Dean. If Dean had held on to win the 2004 nomination and then gotten beaten soundly, what happened afterwards might never have happened.
What happened was that the left-wing base installed Dean at the DNC and then set to work on a do-it-yourself grassroots approach to victory. The Nutroots recruited, vetted and funded their own candidates. They froze out the big-money consultants and tone-deaf D.C.-based "leaders" who had only led them to defeat after defeat.
Meanwhile, congressional Republicans were busy fumbling away Social Security reform, John McCain was pushing S.B. 2611., the Abramoff and Foley scandals were tainting Republicans and -- just for good measure -- "Heck of a job, Brownie!"
NRSC and Zarathustra
A sort of political Murphy's Law seemed to be in effect, so that naturally the Republican Party nominated as its 2008 standard-bearer the same "Maverick" who had done everything in his power to divide the GOP and alienate its grassroots. (Talk to some reporters who rode the 2000 "Straight Talk Express," if you want to understand the profound contempt John McCain has for the conservative rank-and-file.)
So when that little debacle had played out, and the GOP elite had finished blaming all its woes on conservatives, what happens next? In an open Senate primary in the key "swing" state of Florida, the NRSC endorses Charlie Crist over a promising young Hispanic candidate -- the exact sort of candidate who represents the kind of "outreach" the party elite have spent years telling us we should embrace.
Given this kind of "leadership," is it any wonder that a smart young man like Richard Spencer sees no hope, except to hope for the death of the GOP?
As Zarathustra teaches, that which is falling -- decaying, weakening, dying -- should also be pushed. Let's hope that one day, with its corruption, failure, and cowardice foaming up about its waist, the GOP will look up to the Ron Paul movement and shout "Save Us!" And the movement will look down and whisper "No."Spencer is clean-cut in grooming and polite in manner, but as thoroughly radical as Abbie Hoffman parading "Pigasus" at the 1968 Democratic convention in Chicago. His Nietzschean radicalism might shock some people, but can you really say it is a less logical response to the current situation than the NRSC's pre-emptive endorsement of Crist? If the Crist endorsement is not "corruption, failure, and cowardice," exactly how do you define those terms?
The Republican Party will either mend its ways and return to its principles, or else go the way of the Whigs. If by some miracle the party can be saved from its current "leadership," not even Richard Spencer will be more surprised than the Democrats who are now gloating over this latest Gallup poll. A rejuvenated conservatism might deal the Obama cultists such a shocking defeat that it will be the Democrats who are forced to ponder the counsel of Zarathustra.
NOT ONE RED CENT!