Defeated in the midterm elections of 2006, the Republican Party is looking for a presidential candidate. Republican hopefuls live in the shadows of the war, corruption, and low approval ratings of the Bush Administration.

The Bush clique that has led the Republican White House regime was mainly cobbled together by evil genius Karl Rove. The ruling clique consisted of Christian fundamentalists like John Ashcroft and neo-conservatives like Donald Rumsfeld. Both have been casualties of the decline in support for Bush.

The Christian Right first rose to prominence in the ‘80s by “politicizing” Evangelical Christians, many of whom had traditionally abstained from electoral politics. During the Clinton years, as welfare was slashed and free trade agreements resulted in millions of layoffs, the Republican “grand right coalition” continued to build its base. The Democrats had delivered nothing to improve the lives of working people, and the Republicans were building their case for intense social reaction, aiming to drive back the rights of workers, women, and people of color.

The rich political insiders of the Republicans were able to demagogically appeal to regular people by denouncing the Democratic politicians as out-of-touch big city political insiders.

Backed by a large section of the corporate elite, Rove’s grand coalition triumphed in 2000 and used their power to carry out huge attacks; civil liberties were crushed, right-wing Supreme Court justices were appointed, and the blunder in Iraq was started.

Now, six years after Bush coming to power, the neo-conservatives have been discredited by their debacle in Iraq. The so-called “outsiders” of the Republican Party have been the center of scandal after scandal, from Cheney’s CIA leaks to Rove’s deals with lobbyists. Bush’s support has collapsed, and the Democrats, armed with fake antiwar and pro-worker rhetoric, are poised to take the White House in 2008. The right’s grand coalition looks as if it is falling apart.

The ’08 Hopefuls
In 2000 and 2004, the Evangelical voting base of the Republicans had a clear, viable candidate in Bush. Now, there are three clear front-runners for the Republican nomination and none are trustworthy from the point of view of the Christian Right.

Besides Rudy Giuliani, John McCain, and Mitt Romney, no current Republican candidate has any chance of getting the nomination. Giuliani is posing as a “security” and “war” candidate, but he has no credibility with the Christian Right due to his stances on social issues and his multiple marriages. McCain’s disparaging remarks about Evangelicals like Pat Robertson have not been completely forgotten. Romney’s affiliation to the Mormon Church is also a big liability with Evangelical voters, even if the hostility to the Mormons is not as great as it used to be.

All three candidates enjoy a great amount of corporate support (although none of them have gotten as many big business dollars as Hillary and Obama). Still, despite all that money, how can any of these candidates create a voting base?

If the Evangelical leadership chooses to abstain from the presidential elections, then any of these candidates could be in trouble. The development of a strong anti-immigrant wing in the Republican Party also poses problems. If the Republican leadership agrees to a “guest worker” bill and a very limited “path to citizenship” for undocumented workers that the far right would see as “amnesty,” there is a danger of seriously alienating this element and even laying the basis for a split in the party at a certain stage. On the other hand, continuing with the crackdown on undocumented workers can alienate even more Latinos from the Republicans.

The Possibilities
The Democratic Party could crush the Republicans in the ’08 elections and leave them a shell of their former selves. Bush is hated; divisions are opening up within the right wing. Still, the Democrats always seem to find a way to mess up a sure bet. After all, they did win the presidential election in 2000, but they found a way to never come to power.

The Democrats care more about keeping their big business backers happy than they do about winning elections. This is what could keep them from running the type of campaign that would trounce the Republican Party. If the Democrats called for a clear increase in the minimum wage, a comprehensive universal healthcare program, and an end to the war in Iraq, they could almost certainly win by a very large margin. However, none of these things are in the interests of big business, and the Democrats don’t bite the hand that feeds them.

The only thing that can save the Republicans is the fact that the mainstream Democratic candidates are so lame. The right-wing strategists will think up new fear campaigns about the rich Democratic political insiders.

But even despite the inability of the Democrats to offer a clear alternative to the right, a partial disintegration of the Republicans is possible. This could result in a right-wing split and a new political alignment in the U.S. New questions would be posed for activists, socialists, and the movements we participate in.

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