The NYT article was about what would have to happen for the Republicans to again stand a chance. Not about whether it would, in fact, happen.
Charles is probably right that it won’t. Not because the bulk of those who voted for Romney are racist bigots, full of hate and drinking the Kool-Aid. But because the primaries have a dynamic of their own. A sensible, centrist Republican who might be a contender in the general election is a target throughout the primaries. He or she stands a good chance of being knocked out by triumphant zealots (who will go down in flames in the general election.) And if they fight fire with fire to win the nomination, and throw red meat to the narrow “conservative base”, the price of winning the primary is to be quoted in the general election.
Rick Perry was too hopped up on percodan to be a coherent contender in the primaries, but he was right on in-state tuition for illegal aliens who grew up attending our schools. How crazy do things have to get before a Texas conservative is drummed out of the race as being too far left for the GOP? Right—-pretty crazy.
There probably isn’t any cure for this. The dynamics of the primaries will be that moderates either defect to the Democrats or sit out the primaries. Loons compete with shape-shifters. Either way, the general election is hopeless.
Two party politics will reemerge when today’s Democrat party fractures. Perhaps over the inherent tension between the interests of state employees and the need to face up to fiscal reality. Perhaps over whether to allow wind turbines, or nuclear power, or solar power…all of these carry some local cost to the environment, even as they are our only hopes for the general good of the planet. Perhaps over some other issue where the general public good is in tension with the desires of the party’s core supporters.