DANIELS: The GOP's Curse of the 'Golden Boys'

Lee A. Daniels | 1/29/2014, 3 p.m.
Isn’t it time to think of the Republican Party’s quest for the presidency as haunted? That'd be a good question ...
New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie gives his inaugural speech on Jan. 21 after being sworn in for his second term.

The only comparable “golden-boy” phenomenon at the top of the Democratic Party was the tawdry adultery scandal that enveloped former North Carolina Senator John Edwards. But that came to light after Edward’s once-blazing political prospects had already dimmed considerably in the 2008 presidential primary.

Further, this “flawed golden boy” dynamic at the top of the GOP has been mirrored during the last four years among nearly half a dozen Tea Party insurgents who defeated establishment Republican officeholders in primary battles but whose political extremism ultimately cost the GOP seats in the House and Senate.

What this series of a self-inflicted sabotaging of the Party’s prospects suggests, as does other evidence, is that as the GOP has become more and more extreme, it’s lost more and more of the organizational discipline of a traditional American political party. Those – for example, today’s Democratic Party—have always been coalitions of significantly diverse political interest groups that by the very nature of party politics accepted the necessity of compromise.

But a substantial segment of conservative extremists within today’s GOP – the Tea Party faction – rejects the idea of compromise, even with their less ideological GOP confederates. The result, as the respected political scientists Thomas E. Mann and Norman Ornstein have written, is that “the Republican Party … has become an insurgent outlier – ideologically extreme; contemptuous of the inherited social and economic policy regime; scornful of compromise; unpersuaded by conventional understanding of facts, evidence and science; and dismissive of the legitimacy of its political opposition.”

The last two presidential elections have shown that’s not a road leading to the White House. Which strongly suggests that the GOP itself does not have a golden future.

Lee A. Daniels is a longtime journalist based in New York City. His latest book is "Last Chance: The Political Threat to Black America."