Dysfunction a[euro][umlaut]Junction

Article excerpt

Byline: paul begala

a[umlaut]Why the GOP resembles a failed state.

The Beltway Republicans need to call Kofi Annan. The former U.N. chief has of late been specializing in trying to salvage failed states. And a failed state is what the GOP has become nationally.

"Failed state" is the international wonks' term for a nation that no longer functions as a legitimate country. That's not to be confused with a "rogue state" like North Korea, which functions, albeit in the pursuit of psycho evil. A failed state can't even succeed at purposeful harm. But in its impotence, a failed state allows malevolent forces to thrive. The collapse of any authentic government breeds a Hobbesian war of all against all. Think of the Democratic Republic of the Congo--which is neither democratic nor a republic. Or Somalia. The kinds of countries Anderson Cooper reports from.

The textbook (OK, Wikipedia) definition of a failed state contains several elements, not all of which apply to a political party--such as maintaining a monopoly on violence, which, thank God, is not part of the job description for House Republicans. But other tests in the Fund for Peace's Failed State Index sound as if they were written with Boehner's bunch in mind:

"Mounting demographic pressures." Republicans have lost ground among Latinos, Asian-Americans, single women, and younger voters. At this rate, in another quarter century they'll be left with no one but Clint Eastwood and his chair.

"Delegitimization of the state." That's kind of the entire point of modern Republicanism, isn't it?

"Uneven economic development along group lines." Check.

"Severe economic decline." Check.

"Rise of factionalized elites." Are you kidding me? The country clubbers hate the Tea Partiers, the neocons hate the traditionalists, the libertarians distrust the religious right; this isn't a political party, it's Yugoslavia circa 1991.

"Deterioration of public services." When the red states of Mississippi and Louisiana were devastated by Katrina, Democrats voted in overwhelming numbers to send tens of billions of dollars in federal relief within days. Two months after Hurricane Sandy ravaged New York and New Jersey, House Republicans couldn't be bothered to vote on aid until they were publicly spanked by New Jersey's Republican governor, Chris Christie.

"Suspension or arbitrary application of law; widespread human-rights abuses. …