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The current debacle which is the Republican nomination should be of concern to all, regardless of political leanings. Beside the obvious fact that the current bunch of clowns have scuppered the Republicans’ chances at unseating an unpopular Obama, the Republicans have once again raised the question among many whether the party itself is in fact dead. Such, if it were true, would be a dangerous development for America.

The disappearance of the Republicans would be something that even, perhaps especially, liberals ought to abhor. Why? It would leave America as a de facto single-party country. Even though political rhetoric of late has been appalling in America, the health of a democracy absolutely depends on an open marketplace of ideas. All ideas and policies need to be challenged and tested in the hope that the best will win out (or, at least, the worst will be eliminated or mitigated). Should there be a single effective party, the impetus for real debate within Washington would disappear. Of course, there are divisions within the Democratic Party as well, but there seems to be no current pressing tendency for it to split into factions. It would become too easy for a Democratic president or speaker to push through legislation without a healthy dose of debate.

Ironically, the far-right fringe of the Republican party has essentially created the situation for their private nightmare to come true: an unchallenged rule by Democrats. This is something the moderates among us ought to fear as much as rule by the Tea Party. Sadly, despite their rhetoric of standing for civil liberties, four years of a Democratic president has not seen the closure of Guantanamo; it has not seen the repeal of the Patriot Act; it has not seen the end of government-sponsored anti-gay bias. Without a dialectical rival (in all senses of that word), what impetus will the Democrats have to stand firmly for civil liberties–epecially when they have been failing to do so with the Republicans there? Democrats have traditionally defined themselves against Republicans as the civil liberties party, but without an opposite, such self-definition will cease to be politically imperative.

The Republicans need to re-group and return to their core values,  and stop the “culture war” and Tea Party non-sense. Perhaps then politics can turn to a venue of reasoned debate about the difficulties the country faces. If not, we not only face an embarrassing period of the Republicans’ death-throes, but the prospect of a decidedly non-democratic, Democratic state.