Sidney Blumenthal takes a look at the big-business/nativist-white-folks split in the Republican Party right now in The GOP begins to implode Salon 05/18/06. He argues that the basic Republican, which is sometimes called the Wall Street/Main Street alliance, is coming apart:
The nativist Republican base is at the throat of the business community. The Republican House of Representatives, in the grip of the far right, is at war with the Republican Senate. The evangelical religious right is paralyzed while the Roman Catholic Church has emerged as a mobilizing force behind the mass demonstrations of millions of Hispanic immigrants. Every effort Bush makes to hold a nonexistent Republican center is generating an opposing effect within his party.
Bush's victory in 2004 depended upon the calibrated management of highly volatile constituencies. The religious right was shepherded by referendums against gay marriage in 16 swing states. The Catholic hierarchy was carefully split so that conservatives using the abortion issue were raised to the pulpit while progressive-minded bishops concerned with a broader agenda were isolated. The fevered imaginations of nativists were captivated by hosts of enemies who appeared in the whirlwind of Sept. 11.
Noting that Bush and Rove intended to build Republican strength among Latinos, he observes:
But as his presidency has weakened, Bush has lost his grip on his party. As Bush's neoconservative foreign policy has been discredited, a virulent form of isolationist nationalism, always lurking beneath the surface, has filled the vacuum. Bush successfully exploited fear arising from the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks and conflated them with Iraq. But the public has turned against the Iraq war. Fear of the Other is being displaced onto the traditional nativist target: immigrants. It need not be said that they are Catholic and dark-skinned. From the Know-Nothing Party of the 1850s to the Ku Klux Klan of the 1920s, American politics has been racked by cycles of nativism, appearing in periods of conservative reaction.
And he recalls the model that might have served as a cautionary note to today's Republicans, but didn't:
The Republican Party as a whole is recapitulating the self-destruction of the California Republican Party. In 1994, Republican Gov. Pete Wilson advocated Proposition 187, which threatened to deny social services, healthcare and education to undocumented workers, and it aroused the Hispanic sleeping giant. From that moment, in national elections, California became one of the safest Democratic states, and only an anomaly like Schwarzenegger, an immigrant, could emerge as a viable statewide candidate. Ronald Reagan's party is a thing of the past.
How long can the Republican business interests co-exist in a Party more and more dominated by Christian Dominionists and neosegregationists?