Karl Rove’s slash-and-burn style of politics may have done long term damage to the Republican party, both in terms of the number of people who identify with the party as well as broader issues of ideology.
The Republicans spent 35 to 40 years building themselves into a position where they could make a legitimate challenge to American liberalism. Finally, with the election of George W. Bush, they managed to reach a position where a permanent conservative majority seemed very likely. But at the moment they reached the zenith of their accomplishment, the Bush-Rove group managed to produce corruption, incompetence, and harsh partisanship, turning away from GOP basic tenets. They systematically dismantled everything with such speed that moderate Republicans ran for the hills leaving the base in denial (some have wool over their eyes even now).
The Bush tax cuts, given mostly to the wealthy, have already added about $2 trillion dollars to our deficit. The bottom line is that a party that added trillions of dollars to the future debt during a time of boom has no credible answer, other than raw partisanship, for opposing the $800 billion stimulus bill during the worst downturn in employment and GDP since the Great Depression. The Republican party, which insisted for eight years that "deficits don't matter," has no standing to oppose a measure that provides barely a minimum amount to form an economic bottom in an impending depression.
It is increasingly difficult to make an argument that the Republican party is acting in good faith with President Obama or the American people. What is most troubling is that just after the election, the tone for the party was set by Rush Limbaugh, who openly said he wanted Obama to “fail” and immediately threw down the gauntlet against cooperation with the new President. The Republican party leaders and base immediately fell into the all too familiar lock-step. Even so, their states will share in the $54 billion that is designated to help all states keep their state workers – including policemen, firemen, and teachers – on the job; hire people to build and repair roads, schools, and bridges; shore up medicaid; extend unemployment benefits; etc.
To take the Republicans' fiscal conservatism seriously at this point is to engage in instant amnesia. Along the same line, to find a sliver of a reason in Judd Gregg's own self-defense for changing his mind about being Secretary of Commerce (other than partisan pressure) is close to impossible.
The Grand Old Party (Republican) may be digging its own grave. The latest Pew report on trends in public opinion over the last decade is a clear indictment of the Bush-Rove brand of conservatism and, therefore, the Republican party. Party identification is now 50 percent Democrat and 35 percent GOP. Religious intensity is falling; acceptance of gay people is rising. The younger generation is the most secular of any. Support for the military has never been stronger - people don't blame the troops for the war. Women's equality and freedom are values now overwhelmingly popular among all groups, including Republicans, and strongest among the young. At this point in time, the party has been relegated to mostly southern and a few western mountain states.
Over the last eight years, the Republicans seem to have unwittingly created the most loyal generation (the under 30s) to the Democratic Party since the New Deal.