You should all remember the Whigs from your American history class. The Whigs were one of the two dominant political parties in the US from 1832 to 1856 when they disintegrated over the question of allowing slavery in the territories.
Some are now saying the same could happen to the Republican Party. A recent Rasmussen poll on party identification has some demoralizing news for Republican partisans:
The number of people identifying themselves as Republicans has fallen to a new low. A Rasmussen Reports national telephone survey of 15,000 adults in April found that just 31.0% now say they belong to the Grand Old Party. That's down from 31.5% the month before and reflects a drop of more than six percentage points from the peak of 37.3% during Election 2004.
Republican fundraising is drying up.
The National Republican Senatorial Committee (NRSC) is facing many of the same problems it battled last cycle, raising about half as much money as its Democratic counterpart and failing to recruit a single major candidate nearly six months after the 2006 elections. Republicans say many of the plagues of 2006 are lingering into 2008, and that the criticism will start to flow again unless tangible progress is made. In the first quarter, the NRSC, currently led by Sen. John Ensign (R-Nev.), raised about half the money of the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee (DSCC), which eclipsed the NRSC's quarterly total in March alone.
And the recruiting for 2008 candidates is having dismal results:
The NRSC has yet to land one substantial candidate, while the DSCC has several candidates in Minnesota and New Hampshire, along with leading candidates and presumptive nominees in Colorado, Idaho and Maine.
Longtime conservative William F. Buckley offers a bleak assessment of the future of the party.
General Petraeus is a wonderfully commanding figure. But if the enemy is in the nature of a disease, he cannot win against it. Students of politics ask then the derivative question: How can the Republican party, headed by a president determined on a war he can't see an end to, attract the support of a majority of the voters? General Petraeus, in his Pentagon briefing on April 26, reported persuasively that there has been progress, but cautioned, "I want to be very clear that there is vastly more work to be done across the board and in many areas, and again I note that we are really just getting started with the new effort."
The general makes it a point to steer away from the political implications of the struggle, but this cannot be done in the wider arena. There are grounds for wondering whether the Republican party will survive this dilemma.
Our Constitution has a strong bias in favor of the two-party system. Once established, it requires a major crisis or dilemma to dislodge a political party from its position. For the Whigs, it was slavery. For the Republicans, it could be Iraq.
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