The GOP is in a reactionary phase right now, more than anything. A time of responding to the leftward-drifting political landscape and, rather than modifying their positions on key issues, hunkering down and redoubling the anti-progressive stances. In a lot of ways, the United States is less progressive than it was in the past, less accepting of sweeping changes to the way we do things. But that’s how the world is: it moves left.
A fun activity, if you’re a history geek, is to dig through revolutionary thinkers of the past and seeing where their ideas and stances are in an absolute sense rather than relativistic. You’ll find that even the most wildly liberal thinkers of bygone days would be almost laughably backward in the 21st century. Anti-slavery advocates didn’t think blacks were equal people, just that slavery was wrong. Even Lincoln didn’t see the negro as rising particularly high in society.
This sounds contradictory, but the point is that the paradigm as a whole will always, always shift to the left. However, what we’re seeing now is such a hard press against it that wasn’t the case throughout American history. Ours has been a country that, generally speaking, prided itself on pressing forward into the new age, forging new territory and showing the world how we as a goddamn species can advance from century to century.
What does that have to do with the Republican Party? Well, everything. Their emotional-level, cranky grandpa response to gay rights, womens rights, secularism and domestic policy are necessarily self-defeating. We’re getting less dogmatically religious (high percentages of people claim Christianity, but the number who believe the Bible literal truth drops every year), women are a larger percentage of the population than men, gays are more comfortable with being open, and whites are slowly losing their majority. So a party that largely appeals to white, Christian males is one that is painting itself into a corner.
The Republicans are going to have to make a decision: step forward into the 21st century, or die off entirely. Time will tell what they do.