Republican Evolution

31 January 2009

In yesterday’s The Republicans’ Existential Crisis I realize that I did not make it sufficiently clear that a failure to respond effectively to their crisis does not mean that the party necessarily faces extinction. The qualification needs to be added that if a given entity fails to remain historically viable in its current form, it may assume some other form; the entity in question may establish itself as historically viable under changed conditions. In other words, a temporal entity can evolve and find a new niche for itself.

The evolution of the Republican party could assume different forms depending upon the precise circumstances of its evolution, which we have yet to see. At this point there are too many possibilities to accurately predict the realization of any one possibility in particular. As previously observed, the Republican party could fracture into multiple regional parties, it could contract and retrench as a marginal regional party, it could revitalize itself in genuine ways, changing enough to re-assert its national stature, or it could simply become extinct.

It is important to point out the evolution is not new to the Republican party. It has evolved throughout its existence as a temporal entity, and in fact it is this very evolution that has brought it to its current dead end. Since the evolution of the party, as a human institution, can come about either through random variation or through the purposeful action of agents within the party, the Republicans would be well advised to carefully study their evolution over the past quarter century for lessons on the direction not to go in the future.

With the naming of Michael Steele as the new chairman of the RNC the Republicans have made a gesture in the direction of genuine change, that is to say, change of the sort that might shake up the party enough to save it from marginalization. But the real test will be to see whether the gesture is followed by continued action or if it remains a gesture only.

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