let's face it, the highly religious, the ones we here have the biggest problem with, is the base of the Republican Party.  given this, news of its imminent demise should thrill most Atheists.  and make no mistake, barring a gargantuan shift in policies and rhetoric, they are absolutely on the path towards extinction.  

it's common knowledge that the GOP is an old, white party.  while not an absolute, that is an accurate enough description of the Republican Party today.  two trends to keep in mind here.  one, old people tend to die at a faster rate than young people.  two, white people are shrinking as a percentage of the electorate.  they are running out of supporters, and it's happening quicker than many thought.  

take yesterday's election.  President Obama won over 90% of the black vote and 70% of the latino and asian vote.  Romney did well with seniors and whites overall.  meanwhile, the country is getting browner.  the GOP may end up becoming a whites only club, a nativist and pale collection of isolationists who choose to ignore the changing demographics of the country.  worse, they may choose to keep it this way.  if they choose this path, their extinction is all but guaranteed.  their option would be to abandon their social issues, immigration policies, and economic austery programs and to open up their tent through real policy change.  

anyone wanna bet which way they go?

for Atheists, either way is a win.  if the GOP becomes irrelevant then the power of the religious right goes with it.  if they truly make changes to make more people inclusive and begin to part with their religious base Atheists will celebrate.  yesterday's election is better for Atheists than most people would think.  

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"... but they're days of winning state-wide or national elections may be waning".

You could be correct at the national level, the Rs do have a knack of running some strange characters - Missouri being a prime example. But at the state level it is quite a different picture. The Republicans have many strong governors, who do not run on social issues. They have also increased their hold on the state legislatures. States like Ohio, Michigan, Wisconsin - elect strong reform minded Republican Governors but voted for Obama.

2016 will be a new ballgame without an incumbent running. The Repubs have many younger, diverse and successful Governors vs. an older bunch in the Dem  Party. It will be interesting. 

Thomas Mann and Norman Ornstein have a good summary of the current state of the Republican Party in their book, It's Even Worse Than It Looks:

Today's Republican Party, as we noted at the beginning of the book, is an insurgent outlier. It has become ideologically extreme; contemptuous of the inherited social and economic policy regime; scornful of compromise; unpersuaded by conventional uncerstanding of facts, evidence, and science; and dismissive of the legitimacy of its political opposition, all but declaring war on the government.


The Democratic Party has its faults, but it is nowhere near as extreme and has now come to occupy the center of the political spectrum. Most disturbing is the GOP's repetition of factually incorrect statements even when those have been repeatedly exposed along with their willingness to cause the country economic harm by refusing to compromise.

At the moment the GOP is in almost total disarray and cannot even come together on a position in the fiscal cliff negotiations. This is bad news and means we will very likely face the new year without an agreement, setting the stage for a second dip recession and tax increases on everyone.

 

that book is on my xmas list.  i've seen them interviewed several times.  most importantly they are viewed as politically neutral, and have been covering beltway politics for decades.  i'm looking forward to reading it.  

It's an excellent analysis of the situation and the possible remedies, but it won't make you feel any better about things.

As to who is really extreme or in the center is purely a matter of perspective. 

The same could be said about the current Democrat Party - refusing to compromise. It is Obama's way or the highway. He acts like he can fix the deficit by raising tax rates only on those who make more than $200,000 while at the same time adding even more to spending with a transportation "stimulus" and offering no real reform on entitlement spending. You will see the Democrats in disarray when and if the topic of reform of entitlements is ever discussed, which may not happen in the next four years.

I believe Obama would have no real issue with taxes going up on everyone - after all he campaigned on returning the country to the Clinton era tax rates. He knows it is the only way to significantly raise money to continue the increased spending. He has had the Republicans backed in the corner before - at the start of his 1st term. He actually ended up uniting the Republicans. I believe he will over play his hand again. His second term looks like a disaster in the making from an economic standpoint. I don't think he truly cares about the economy though - just increasing the size of government. He said as much in his famous "rope line" comment to Joe the Plumber. It will be hard to undue the things he has put in place and he knows it. He will be viewed historically as a transformational President (his goal), but it will again depend on perspective as to whether that is a good or bad thing. 

As to who is really extreme or in the center is purely a matter of perspective.

Once upon a time you could make a good case for that statement, but no longer. By any measure the GOP has moved far right, purging from the party those who are not ideologically pure.

For example, Richard Lugar was a distinguished senator for many years and a genuine expert on foreign policy. He was respected for most of his senate career by his colleagues on both sides of the aisle. Now he is gone, a victim of the Tea Pee'rs, and the GOP has no other foreign policy figure of his stature and experience.

Jim:

"...whether that is a good or bad thing."

Until you answer "Good for whom?" and "Bad for whom?" your sentence says very little.

Transformational?

Maybe, if he restores the backbone the Dems built with their 1960s civil rights laws, and then lost in Viet Nam.

Tom - I am just saying that Obama is transforming the direction of the country more than a caretaker type President (he wants to be remembered as the "Reagan of the Left). Whether you view these changes as positive or negative will depend on your perspective. 

Obama once said in an interview that he would rather be an excellent one term President than a mediocre two term President. On it's face this comment does not make much sense. If he were viewed by the majority of the country as excellent, he would be easily re-elected. On the other hand being viewed by the majority as mediocre would jeopardize a 2nd term. He was saying he would rather go down in flames sticking to his ideology than move to the center and be viewed as mediocre. (although Clinton moved to the center and was not considered mediocre - in fact he saved Obama with his strong support). Obama came close to going down in flames, but was saved in part by a massive ad spend attacking/defining Romney early in the campaign when Romney was most vulnerable. You could say a storm called Sandy helped him greatly, and one of the biggest factors was not having to run in a brutal primary. Romney was also not a great communicator, and vulnerable in several areas. I do not think that Obama won a mandate for his ideas. The Dems would have retaken the House if there were a mandate for his policies.     

So you can speculate on who he wants to view him as an excellent President. Who do you think that is ? I personally think history may rate him as a mediocre two term President, but elements of the left will view him as excellent as they blame the other party for the economic decline. My perspective.    

"...will depend on your perspective."

Jim, you appear to like empty cliches. That one and your "...whether that is a good or bad thing" above are empty. I'll use another cliche: Where's the beef?

Perspectives result from needs. Identify the needs and you might be saying something.

OK Tom - The left/progressive desire is for a European entitlement type state (single payer government run healthcare eventually, greater wealth redistribution., etc). The conservative desire is for less government and more market driven capitalism. No one is for getting rid of the safety net (unemployment, food stamps, medicaid, medicare, social security), that is too firmly entrenched. The problem is we can not afford what the left desires unless the economy is growing at a much greater rate.

So far Obama has not been a "transformational" President - note this is what he said he wanted to be. He could - if he gets his way - run up government levels and the deficit so high that it will transform the country down the road. I don't think he knows how to bring about big change other than through sheer force (health care bill) and he has not had the votes, even from his own party (cap and trade, immigration reform). I am glad we have a Republican House that is slowing him down - however I also believe he would not mind everyone's taxes going up, and then using it as a hammer on the Republicans. The economy will suffer, the Republicans will suffer, and he will suffer a further decline in ratings except among the far left and those totally dependent on government.  

I don't think that "depends on your perspective" is a totally empty cliche. I agree it is a rather obvious statement, and I know this is not rocket science. I am just saying that you will never get agreement on whether he was a successful President, for a number of years anyway. Right now there is much disagreement even among progressives. The criticism is fairly muted though. OK an EXAMPLE - drone strikes within Pakistan. The left wailed about water boarding a handful of militants, but is generally silent as we drop numerous missiles on suspected combatants, including American citizens, killing who knows how many innocents. At least with Bush we captured them and were going to give them military trials, until Obama stopped that practice. It has effectively stopped the growth of the number of residents at Gitmo though.  

"He could - if he gets his way - run up government levels and the deficit so high that it will transform the country down the road."

Jim, you weren't paying attention during the mid-1980s. The Repubs, knowing they had too few votes in Congress to cut the social programs, started borrowing--intending to bankrupt the government and thus cut the social spending.

Evidence? The record borrowing by Reagan, Bush 41, Bush 43. Add Bush 43's wiping out Clinton's surplus.

The Dems? The Repub attack machine's "tax and spend" charges terrified them into silence.

Finally, aided by Repub excesses, they regrew a backbone. Obama was slow to grow his.

Tom - You have stumbled on to the true problem here - politicians from either party do not like to say no to spending, that is where they get their power from - giving things to people.

That is why the only way they can agree to reduce the increase in spending is through things like the military base commission (a 3rd party commission decides which military bases to close) and mechanisms like the sequester, where they don't have to actually vote on specific spending reductions.

If I were the Repubs - I would give Obama what he has demanded - a tax rate increase on the 2% and nothing else, by passing a bill to extend the Bush era tax cuts for the 98%. The president already said he would sign it. Let the sequestration cuts go into effect, no additional  "stimulus" spending, etc. If the economy tanks, it will be harder for Obama to blame the Repubs (of course he still will) as he has made his whole public case based on fixing the deficit by "taxing the rich folks a little bit more". When the cuts start to bite programs the Dems like they will be forced to actually negotiate. I don't know if the Repubs will go for that, I am just saying that is what I would do.   

It is actually funny that for the past 10 years the Dems have always said "the Bush tax cuts only favored the rich". So then why not let them all expire ? Suddenly it appears that everyone was given a tax cut ? 

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