What’s Wrong With the Republican Party?

The most important political story of the last two decades is the Republican Party's journey to wackadoodleland.

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Oliver Munday for TIME

I’ve often banged my spoon on my high chair about the reality-defying extremism and chronic obstructionism and borderline surrealism of the modern Republican Party. Its journey to wackadoodleland is, in my view, the most important political story of the last two decades. In this week’s magazine, I have a column about the post-election GOP freakout, and how the party can adapt to an electorate that is getting less demographically Republican (more diverse, less rural, more educated, less evangelical) as well as less ideologically Republican (less hostile to gays, gun control, and government). The answer, I suggest, is not to try to change the electorate with voter-ID laws and Electoral College-rigging schemes. And it’s not what the party elites seem to think it is:

These days, the party line is that Republicans need to change their approach to politics—message, tone, technology, strategy. They shouldn’t make repulsive comments about rape, question Obama’s birth certificate, brag about their unwillingness to compromise, or suggest that 47% of their fellow citizens are moochers. They should repair their relationship with data, so they won’t be flabbergasted when election night doesn’t ratify the predictions of their pundits. They need to use Skype, improve minority outreach, and stop behaving like crotchety reactionaries who scream “You lie!” during presidential speeches to Congress.

Again, this is progress. But while it may be comforting to blame salesmanship rather than product, their salesmanship has been quite impressive.

No, the main problem is the product. As I try to explain in the column, it’s outdated and it’s bogus. So how can the GOP fix it?

Um…er…that’s another problem.


For Michael Grunwald’s column in this week’s magazine, click here.

MORE: Viewpoint: The GOP Searches for a New Strategy — in All the Wrong Places