Welcome to Dysfunction Junction. We have many exciting exhibits for your enjoyment today. Over on the left we have an important piece of recent history, the General Motors Corporation. For decades this company was iconic and represented what was best in America. But during the latter part of the last century hubris and arrogance took over and it became a major symbol of corporate dysfunction. However, with government assistance, hard work and self-discipline GM has returned to health. There on the far right are two prime examples of government dysfunction, the Vietnam War and the second Iraq War. In both cases the dysfunction was rooted in miscalculation, over-reach, ignorance and unclear goals. The imprint of the Viet Nam War can still be seen on an entire generation and its attitudes toward war. The second Iraq War is like a never ending nightmare that we can’t awake from. Just when we think it’s ending it takes on a different identity and draws us in. Now for our newest exhibit, holding the place of honor right in the center of the hall, the Republican Party.
As with all of our new featured exhibits we are pleased to provide an analysis of the dysfunction that brought them to Dysfunction Junction. However, we must admit, we are still a little overwhelmed as this is the first political party that has ever warranted a place here at the Junction. It seems that the best way to begin our analysis is to understand what a political party is. In general terms it is an organization that seeks to achieve its goals through the electoral process and the acquisition of political power both locally and nationally. This definition presupposes a commonality of goals and a leadership structure to guide the process before, during and after the elections. By that definition the Republican Party is no longer a functioning party and has therefore found a place of prominence at our facility. While it is true that the party appears to be functioning in many state and local governments, upon closer analysis calling it a party might be a misnomer. Can we look at the Republican Party organization in each state across the nation and find them to have a core commonality? Certainly local issues and characteristics will tweak the Party in one direction or another, but is there a commonality in goals and values? Perhaps we can find a regional commonality , but certainly that is not the case across the nation. The second question we must ask is about leadership. Who are the functioning leaders of the Republican Party? Now we’re talking about leaders that have the support of a majority and are able to guide the party and move it. To even a casual observer it is clear that the Republican Party is currently leaderless and directionless.
The extraordinarily bazaar situation in the Republican presidential nominating process is both entertaining and tragic at the same time. As we combine it with the inability of the House to find anyone willing to consider the Speakership in light of the Freedom Caucus’ demands we see a party that has become rudderless as it heads into severe weather. The Republican Party has fallen victim to its own rhetoric and legitimized the most extreme elements. The extreme right-wing, formerly a fringe of the Party, has now taken a position of power causing paralysis and creating critical dysfunction.
The key question is how long the Party will remain here. Will it be able to pull itself together or will it be replaced in the functioning world by a new party? This situation is unprecedented in modern American history. We will watch with interest as the Republican Party continues to hold its place of prominence here at Dysfunction Junction.