No, it’s not because people need “conservative thought” or whatever, because what passes for conservative thought these days is just a mix of Christian and White Supremacist dogma.
And that’s not hyperbole–this GOP majority in Congress has passed the least legislation in history. The reason they can’t pass any legislation is because the party, once they allowed those two groups to form their core, has begun to engage in a series of purity tests where only the most extreme members can remain. But the lack of policy isn’t why the fall of the GOP is bad for democracy. Good-faith policy must come from logic and reason, and anyone using these along with facts and evidence, whether liberal or conservative, will end up getting to the same ballpark of ideas for solutions. Thus, the choice between right and left should be just minor choices about how much or how little policymakers should push the needle in a certain direction, based on priorities.
For example, when faced with the real evidence and threat of permanent climate change, the choice IS between how fast and to what new energy sources we change to, not IF we will actually change or not. The modern Republican party has decided that their ideology demands that MORE fossil fuels be extracted and burned. Can you imagine if tobacco science came out in today’s GOP? There would be massive “get-out-the-smoke” campaigns and kids’ “smokeouts” where they gather ans mime smoking the candy cigarettes. It’s just plain crazy at this point, and it’s dangerous, but it’s not why it’s a danger to democracy in America, although it’s related.
The reason this party on the decline is a problem is that many of these people see their political foes as the same thing as America’s real enemies like Russia, and because they often see their politics in religious terms, there is no application of logic. This desperation leads to an embrace of anyone or anything that endorses their ideology, no matter how heinous. Look at Kyle Rittenhouse, who murdered two people and injured a third when he showed up armed to a protest in another state, where the locals were organizing because of another officer-involved killing of a civilian. After being acquitted by reason of self-defense, they then elevated this boy to superstar status within the party, and probably mostly because he got away with killing some liberals. That’s his claim to fame. But because it is so difficult to find people that will drink their Kool-Aid, no matter what’s in it, no questions asked, a person like this becomes a hero to them.
And look at the furor over Taylor Swift and Travis Kelce. Her crime was encouraging people to vote (in general, not necessarily for Democrats) and he said to take the vaccine. That’s it. But because of these increasingly narrow purity tests, the right-wing grift-o-sphere can’t even celebrate some of their biggest successes because they are now “libtards” infected by the “woke virus”, even though they probably see eye-to-eye on a majority of things. But painting themselves into a stupid corner by their purity tests isn’t even the most dangerous thing about a declining GOP.
It’s that the leaders they elect have been falling more and more to Russian and Chinese state-sponsored propaganda. Members of Congress themselves when questioning government officials have quoted from both countries’ propaganda networks, because whatever was written agreed with their dogma. But most importantly, they are so radicalized, so desperate for someone, ANYONE, to agree with them, that they won’t even check to see if what was written or said is verifiable or true. It doesn’t matter, really. And when you’re that starved for approval, it makes it childishly easy for foreign countries to pass off state propaganda to Americans and THEY THEMSELVES PASS IT ON as true. That also means there are no guardrails on money for them either. Unless the check says from “BIG BAD RUSSIA, LOVE PUTIN” they are not going to do any due diligence on where the money, and influence-peddling, comes from.
In fact, the former leader of the House, who was ousted by far-right of his own party last year, in 2016 claimed that a number of legislators, and even Trump himself, were compromised, and reiterated those sentiments in recent comments, saying it was the only thing that explained his colleagues’ strange decisions. Herein lies the danger — we can not trust that our GOP leaders are not compromised by our enemies, but it’s even worse: we have to conclude that many already are and are acting in the best interests of our enemies. And it’s a scary thought to think that Putin and Xi, or any crackpot with money, are secretly holding the puppet strings of a third or more of our country’s leaders. And look, there is reporting out there that indicates the GOP is straight-up parroting Kremlin talking points.
Because when you’re this desperate, you’ll do anything…and therein lies the true danger of a party in decline.