For the past few years, I've been ruminating on the differences between the Democratic Party Establishment and the Republican Party Establishment, and since I'm foolishly seeking to avoid writing a brief right now, I might as well write up my thoughts.
To understand the Parties, we have to understand history. When the country began, the Democratic Party establishment came from the farming elites, and the Republican Party Establishment came from the merchant elites. By the time of the Civil War, agricultural elites were outpowered by the merchant and industrial elites, and so the Democrats took to broad-based support to match the Republicans. But building a broad base takes time, and it wasn't until the 1930's, when the agricultural elite was more or less dead, that the Democrats were able to combine labor unions, African Americans, immigrants, liberals, and farmers to come to power.
In response, the GOP took to building its own broad base of support, but ultimately couldn't find a particular issue until the 1960's and 1970's - abortion and civil rights - to get the kind of broad-based support it needed to take power. In the meantime, the bottom-up organization of the Democrats was amazingly disorganized, and Democrats were pushed too hard to the left by their base.
As a result, the modern conservative movement developed and took power. In response, the Democratic Party Elites began pushing back against the base, leading to the famous "Sister Souljah" moment by Bill Clinton, and thus, began the sport of "hippie punching."
I mention all of this because right now, I see the GOP as falling into the trap the Democrats fell into during the 1970's. That is, because the Party is so well connected to its grassroots, and thrives on them, that no Republican who wants to hold power will ever have a "Sister Souljah" moment. There will be no teabagger punching.
Additionally, Rupert Murdoch found that inflaming the base = money. Not some money, but a whole shitload of money. And right now, the crazier the conspiracy, the more money there is to be made. In short, the mechanisms used by the GOP to communicate with its base has found other, more profitable lines of work - stirring up crazy shit.
On the Democratic side, the opposite is true - rather than listen to the base, the Party elders think that we're completely fucking nuts, and instead listens to the D.C. cocktail circuit. And here's the problem - the D.C. cocktail circuit has its own agenda of elitism, lack of acrimony and well, more cocktail parties. A good example of this was health care reform. For months, Obama tried to get Republican support for health care reform, something that every liberal blogger in America pointed out was never going to work. Instead, almost everyone pointed to using reconciliation. Surprisingly, the Republicans en masse reject health care reform, and the Democrats use reconciliation to pass the law. Ugh.
So what happens now? Honestly, I don't know. On the Republican side, there's simply too much money to be made by stirring up the crazies. As a result, politicians like Michele Bachman and Sarah Palin are going to get a lot of airtime by the right-wing media. The saner elements of the GOP are either going to be pushed into the Democratic Party (Colin Powell, Arlen Specter), or are going to be pushed away entirely (Lincoln Chafee, Charlie Crist). The whole vortex is self-sustaining.
On the Democratic side, I don't see an end to the hippie punching from Obama, particularly with his recent decision to allow offshore drilling. But other Democrats, like Alan Grayson, may have figured out that playing to the base means easy fundraising. At this point, I'd like to ask Bogart what he thinks.