The political map The only difference between a religion and a cult, is that the religion has a bigger parking lot out front. Religions and cults are all based on delusions, some harmful, others just silly. The only difference is in the size, and the social and political clout they wield. The GOP is a religion that is shrinking down to cult status. A small group of fanatical believers, grasping tightly to their delusions, cutting themselves off from reality more and more, associating only with each other more and more, viciously purging anyone who questions their dogma, clinging to the few high priests they have left Fox, Rush, Breitbart, Newsmax and so forth. The GOP has become a regional party, with strongholds in the south and the yahoo west. They have almost no presence in the mid-Atlantic, the Pacific states, the northeast, or the Midwest, where Bush tried and failed in 2004. They have no strategy for becoming a fifty-state party again. In forty House districts they fielded no candidate at all, and in 120 others they lost by forty points or more. Seats that are won by gigantic margins are cheap to defend, so the Dems can put their money elsewhere, and redistricting will make things even harder for the GOP. A majority of the House is held by Democrats who won their seats by 15 points or more, so taking the House back is a long, long way off. Republicans cannot compete in cities, black areas, Mexican areas, or college areas. The GOP can no longer count on evangelicals to carry them to victory. McCain won many more evangelicals than Bush did in 2004, but the non-evangelical religious voters shifted to the Democratic ticket in 2008; they decided that economic issues were more important than the social issues. Meanwhile the religious movement itself is shrinking, splitting in a hundred different directions, becoming less intolerant; declining marriage rates also mean fewer church families. But on the other side, rightwing attitudes are hardening: for example, a group of conservative Episcopalians is angry that U.S. Episcopalians and Canadian Anglicans arent sufficiently hardline, and they plan to split off and form a church that is even further to the right than the Episcopal/Anglican church; gay marriage is a key issue. Most importantly, the issues that energize evangelicals turn off moderates. And this is a critical issue: the GOP is unlikely to nominate a pro-choice candidate, and the moderates and centrists who pick all the presidents are unlikely to elect a pro-life candidate. The immigration battle hurt the GOP among Hispanics from coast to coast. They blocked sensible immigration reform and appealed to the red-meat conservative base with rhetoric that was xenophobic. Hispanics apparently they have no place in the "center-right America" of Republican fantasy. Obama did amazingly well among the under-45-year-old set the electorate of the future -- in Georgia, South Carolina and Texas, which is sure to set off alarm bells at the RNC. Now that Obama has won the youth vote across the whole country, they will stay in the Democratic column election after election after election. And raise their kids as Democrats. The McCain, contrariwise, won one group, old whites the group which will die soonest. Even the dead-white-male vote is in jeopardy: more Nashville musicians donated to Obama than McCain. One of the political websites has an extraordinary map which shows which parts of the country became more Democratic in this election, and which areas became less Democratic. The map shows that almost the entire country became more Democratic, except a long streak extending eastward from Memphis into Tennessee, Alabama and West Virginia, and westward from Memphis into Arkansas, Louisiana, Texas and Oklahoma. You know, the white power meth-lab NASCAR yahoos who just dont like black folks. Obama actually got fewer of their votes than Kerry did. But in 2016 we wont have a black guy running for President. The Democrats will pick some southern white boy like Mark Warner, perhaps with a running mate like Chet Edwards of Texas, Stetson and all. Warner will be running on Obamas solid eight-year record of performance in the White House, and he will take all of the Obama states with their 365 electoral votes, as well as some states in yahoo country. He will take away the Republican partys last stronghold, the South, which gave McCain all but 49 of his electoral votes. And that will be the end of the GOP. The forgotten architect of Obamas victory was Howard Dean. He came out in 2004 and said we should be proud to be Democrats, and we should fight in all fifty states. Everybody laughed. But by summer 2008, there was no state Obama could not have competed in. Perhaps not winning, but competing, and building up the local party for the next time. The GOP hardliners No analysis of the near-term future of the Republican party is complete without an unblinking look at their base, the scarecrow remnants of the Reagan revolution: the supply siders who created our $10 trillion debt, the deregulators who caused the current fiscal crisis, the culture warriors who properly belong in the 17th century, the Rambo-bandannaed neocons who think JDAM's and TLAM's can solve ninety percent of our diplomatic problems.... They are out there buying guns in fear of a ban by Obama, howling on the internet, and using Obamas presidency to recruit troops for the white-power groups. A KKK expert noted "some of these guys are just crooks, sociopaths". A leader of a white-power group admitted openly that a lot of their members have psychological and sexual problems. A local cop said "The IQ level of this group is not impressive, to be kind. I can't imagine anyone feeling endangered or at risk by any one of these kooks." Immediately after Obama was elected, the rightwing erupted in violent and illegal behaviour: beatings of blacks, death threats, vandalism, cross-burnings, effigy hangings, racist graffiti, swastikas; students down south chanted assassinate Obama, while one was suspended for wearing an Obama T-shirt; in Maine they ran an assassination pool. They regularly go to their standby, irrational fear, asserting that Obama is a foreigner who will take all our guns, throw Rush off the air with the Fairness Doctrine, and hand the whole store over to the Clintons again. Redstate.com has launched a rightwing jihad aimed at attacking anyone who ever badmouthed Palin (including any candidate who hires such miscreants), banning all pro-choice writers from their site, building the anti-Democratic smear narrative, building an enemies-list database, documenting everything that anyone in the Obama administration does so they can launch congressional harassment later, digging for dirt, and so forth. One of the many golden moments in the 2008 election: a month before leaving office, Bush finally admitted to the evangelicals who had made up half the Bush vote in 2004, that he doesnt even believe in a literal interpretation of the Bible. So now even evangelicals can join in the sentiment shared by the rest of us betrayal by W. The GOP civil war The GOP will have a civil war with no guarantee it will end happily, or end at all. For twenty years the leadership of the GOP has deliberately tried to destroy moderates and centrists in both parties, from Clinton to Jim Jeffords, to make the political center a scorched no-mans-land. The aim was to force America to choose between the far right and the far left, in the hope that America would always choose the far right. They steered the national debate toward wedge issues and so forth. They tried to drive Obama, or at least Obamas image, way to the left, screaming socialist at him for weeks. Conservatives had their big powwow in Virginia to discuss the future of the GOP. They determined that the GOP lost the election because they didnt stick to their far-right principles. They refuse to believe that Palin drove some voters away from the GOP. They were actually glad that some moderate Republicans lost. They declared that the moderate wing of the GOP is dead: they will not tolerate candidates who are squishy on conservative principles and will turn their backs on moderates. They will only support people who want fiscal restraint (i.e. Bushs tax cuts), opposition to abortion, tough border security and a strong national defense. Others like Michael Reagan have echoed the sentiment: the moderates are not real Republicans, and they betrayed the cause. The party moderates want desperately to send the backward racist loons on their march, behind T. Rex and the dodo, on the path to extinction. They want them stuffed, mounted, and displayed in the Smithsonian along with their intellectual equals in the Cro-Magnon family. They know that the GOP can only win national elections by expanding their numbers with centrists and independents. But how do they do it? The rightwing loons run the party regardless of who is chosen as RNC chair, and they control the congressional caucuses, the donors, the think tanks. By driving the less-hardy moderates out of the tent, they have improved their numerical advantage over the moderates, ensuring that the centrists can neither take over the party power structure, nor win any battles on issues, nor recruit more moderates into the party to expand the numbers of the centrists. Seldom have the GOP moderates even won a hearing, let alone a battle, on Capitol Hill, or anywhere else the far right even forced McCain to go to the right for his VP pick, leading to the fatal choice of Palin. All they can hope for, is for younger voters to push aside the hardliners in the next decade or two. Up and coming Republican leaders potential RNC chairs and presidential candidates are trying to have their cake and eat it too. We embrace both tradition and reform, we want both the right and the center, etc. McCain tried that and failed. Meanwhile, there is also growing friction among the three philosophical branches of the GOP: the fiscal conservatives, social conservatives and neocons; all three have had their credos rejected by voters, who dont want deficits, deregulation, multiple wars, or bans on abortion or civil unions. Following the 2008 disaster, the factions are blaming each other for the losses, just when they need to reunite to draft a plan for regaining power. Some want the fiscals to win: they have the advantage of having one clear leader Romney, who could split the evangelical vote in Iowa and they are the only faction which can craft an appealing message for independents. There is a fair chance that the fiscal conservatives will win, bringing the neocons to heel and nudging the culture warrior to pick their fights at the local level. With poll after poll saying the American people are focused on the economy, it would be reasonable to expect the fiscal conservatives (and Romney) to come out on top. Denial within the GOP The overwhelming message from the GOP is that America still wants their message. The conservatives say X percent of America is conservative and Y percent are moderate, so X+ Y = the center/right America. But that assumes that the moderates agree with the right. They dont. Moderates went for Obama by more than twenty points. Moderates and liberals agree on homosexuality and on diplomacy, and on values, and on almost all issues, except the quest for small government ironically because Republicans showed the danger of big government. But moderates do want effective government. One poll showed that most voters said the Republicans lost due to excessive conservatism, but the Republicans themselves, by a 17-point margin, thought they werent conservative enough. The gap between the far right and the rest of the country is so wide that McCain was unable to bridge the gap with his VP choice: his staff told him that choosing a moderate who could have helped him win -- would cause a riot at the convention and among the GOP base. Thus, Sarah Palin. The Republicans clung to the belief that Obama philosophically is miles away from the center-right country he will govern (in fact both he and the country are centrist). The main thrust of the Republicans today is that America still embraces their philosophy -- tax cuts for the rich, deregulating Wall Street, holy wars abroad, culture wars at home -- but Bush and McCain betrayed those ideals the spending, nationalized banks, deficits, the prescription drug plan, the wiretaps. They think their platform will still sell. The debate will go like this: the culture warriors will need to admit that most Americans support Roe v Wade and accept civil unions, but Americans still oppose gay marriage rather a slender reed. The neocons will say that Americans may dislike Bushs clumsy handling of Iraq but they still want a strong America. The supply-siders will say that although America is wising up to the silliness of excessive deregulation, Americans still like low taxes and small government. It sounds as though the narrative is hardening: GOP principles are good; Bush and McCain strayed from them. This works in a number of ways: they try to stick to the fiscal message which is the only thing they have that might sell, and they steer the blame to two guys nobody likes much anyway. And they dont have to admit any mistakes.