How to Save the GOP

     Here’s an early prediction for you: Chris Christie will be Republican candidate for president in 2016, and may win.
     It’s either that or years more of losing, and increasingly irrelevant and annoying whining from the GOP.
     The New Jersey governor represents what I call the Reality Wing of the Republican Party. I don’t like him much, but I like him a hell of a lot better than anyone else in the modern Republican Party.
     I fell for Christie, as people fall these days, on the Internet. When he ran for governor in 2008, Christie made an Internet sensation by tearing into a teacher who asked him a question at a news conference. Christie riced her and diced her in front of a crowd of teachers. The video was posted on the Internet.
     I thought he was great.
     I taught in public high schools for nine years. I belonged to teacher unions. I’m a big supporter of unions. But I couldn’t disagree with a word Christie said, and I admired him for saying it.
     I wouldn’t vote for him. I wouldn’t vote for any Republican today, because of what I have seen the party do for the past 30 years.
     But I don’t want to live in a one-party state, no matter what party it is. Even if it’s God’s Party.
     Especially if it’s God’s Party.
     If someone does not shake up the Republican Party, from the inside, it’s going to continue devolving into what it’s become: a bunch of brown-shirt bullies hollering at decent people, who they presume are like them, and at everyone else, who they presume are indecent.
     Let’s look at reality.
     Democrats hold the Senate despite our country’s remarkable rightward slide because senators are elected statewide. They have to appeal to everyone in their state.
     Republicans hold the House because House members are elected by district, and our country has been split into fractionated, gerrymandered slices which extremists can dominate. So House members can be re-elected by playing to factions.
     Through the redistricting process, our state legislatures, nearly all of them dominated by one party or another, have split our country into little virtually gated congressional communities, not much different from the one where Trayvon Martin was shot to death for the crime of being black.
     I don’t think our country likes it this way. But we haven’t found a way out.
     One way out – a sure way out – would be to take the decennial redistricting process out of politicians’ hands and let panels of retired judges do it, as they do in Iowa. But to do this nationwide would require a constitutional amendment, and that will never happen.
     It won’t happen because redistricting is such an abstruse and boring process that my fellow citizens will never pay attention to it. So we won’t force politicians to do it. And politicians will never do it themselves.
     That, along with increasingly concentrated media megalopolies and a handful of shortsighted corporations and billionaires, has brought our country to where we are today: a country that, if you read the newspapers and watch TV, seems on the verge of a civil war.
     But we aren’t.
     Americans, by and large, get along. Americans of different races. Americans of different religions. Of different political parties.
     For more than two years, we’ve heard incessant nattering about the so-called Tea Party, an extremist group that, as this week’s elections showed, has done far more harm to the Republican Party, and to the country at large, than it has done to the Democrats.
     When Gov. Christie welcomed President Obama to New Jersey after Hurricane Sandy, it was not a “betrayal,” or self-interest from a “closet Democrat,” as the Republican mob hollered.
     It was common courtesy.
     The Republican Party will not rescue itself from political irrelevance unless it can find a candidate who is willing and able, to calmly, cogently, and with conviction, tell the Tea Party to go to hell.
     Christie could do it. I don’t see anyone else around who would.

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