Perhaps some crazy thing can happen between now and November, but after the conventions and then Romney's nakedly irresponsible reaction to the attacks on US embassies, the USS Mitt appears to have hit the iceberg. Some conservatives, following the lead of Chris Christie (who refused the VP nomination and used his convention keynote speech to promote himself, not the candidate) have started grabbing life-boats and jumping ship. Considering that the GOP has made defeating president Obama its sole priority for the past four years and obstructing anything he does its primary tactic, such a massive failure ought to provoke some soul searching. Perhaps Republicans will come back to Washington after the election to work with and find common ground with the president. I wouldn't put any money on it, however.
This won't happen because the Republican Party is no longer a party, properly so called. It is merely the vehicle for an extremist political movement, one that brooks no compromise and will not cease until its vision of America is imposed. If you don't believe me, look at a recent article in the Times about conservative groups looking to hunt out "voter fraud." They claim there are secret buses of illegal voters crawling on the highways of the nation, ready to steal the election from the hands of "real Americans." These wackos are not content to merely spin tales of phantom buses; they are showing up to polling places as election judges so overbearing and obstructive that many voters simply go home before casting their votes. What drives these folks on the Tea Party right is the fervent conviction that the president is himself not an American, and that he is some kind of nefarious super villain out to destroy this country. Nothing he does, from targeted assassinations of terrorists to middle class tax relief, will ever satisfy these people, so complete is their hatred.
The Republicans looked finished after the 2008 election, and they managed to survive, and even thrive, with the growth of the Astro-turfed Tea Party. It gave the moribund party energy and initiative, but it has also made it necessary for Republican politicians to cater to the needs of the biggest extremists in their coalition. Any compromise with president Obama will be met with howls of "treason" from the Tea Party, and for that reason, the Republican establishment will do little or nothing in the next administration to increase bipartisanship. As I have said before, they have struck a devil's bargain which is bad for their own future, but also for civility and rationality in the public discourse that the rest of us must endure. The Tea Party will still be motivated by their all-consuming hatred of the president, and the part big-wigs in DC will have to go along. Be prepared for four more years of insanity.