Part of the Republicans' problems started shortly after Ronald Reagan was elected president. Followers of Reagan in the GOP, like Ralph Reed, Tom DeLay, Grover Norquist, Karl Rove, Newt Gingerich, Rush Limbaugh and others worked tirelessly to push an agenda that included the total annihilation of the Democratic Party. While Reagan was professing the ills of the Federal Government and the need to pare it down under the guise of his "New Federalism" platform, his followers began pursuing a path to dominate Washington and convince those living on the fringe of the extreme Right Wing that they too have a home in the Republican Party.
But there are obvious pitfalls with this strategy, beginning with the fact Reagan expanded the Federal deficit and size of government while president. Yes, he did. It was a classic case of "Do as I say, but not as I do." But we all know modern Republicans refuse to acknowledge that Reagan routinely asked and obtained repeated increases of the debt ceiling and in fact, increased taxes. Many Republicans still refuse to acknowledge that Reagan engaged in illegal activities that became known as Iran Contra. They also conveniently forget that 241 American Servicemen were murdered in a terrorist attack in Beirut, Lebanon and that Secretary of Defense Weinberg overruled President Reagan's order to attack their bases in the Bekaa Valley. But Benghazi is now center stage for Rand Paul (R-KY) and the GOP to embarrass President Obama and former Secretary of State Clinton (with the ulterior motive of damaging her run for the White House in 2016). Selective Memory is not a quality to be shared! This and John McCain (R-AZ) badgering Chuck Hagel further hurts them.
Perhaps the largest pitfall for the Republicans is the fact that their chickens have come home to roost! By pandering to the "Lunatic Fringe" on the Far Right, the GOP has invited wing nuts to not only become part of their devoted base, but to participate in their political leadership. We all now know how that has worked out for them! Through the use of their ideologically supporting media, the Republicans have convinced those wing nuts that government is the evil purveyor of waste and socialism and that it must be cut to be small enough "to drown in a bathtub" (see Norquist). So why is it a surprise that these very same folks now give the GOP serious heartache? Why are they so shocked that those elected from the Far Right Lunatic Fringe proceed with a desire to destroy the government instead of leading it? Which leads one to ask, is the current GOP effort to "Re-brand" itself an honest effort designed to bring them back to a sane and moderate political position? Can they convince moderate Americans they care more about America than empowering special interests and supporting wing nut demands on abortion, same sex marriage, access to firearms and/or deficit reduction exclusively through slashing social programs and Entitlements? After decades of working against unions, working Americans including women, Ammericans aligned to or sympathetic to LGBT and immigrants, it will be virtually impossible for them to reinvent themselves? After all, as they continue to block reasonable immigration reform, regulations on Wall Street and Financial Institutions, attacks on entitlements plus others, how much progress do they really expect to make with Moderates from such "efforts?"
Our Democratic-Republic requires two relatively strong and competing political parties, but the current GOP is cracking under the weight of its own internal coalitions that include whack jobs hell-bent on misinterpreting the Constitution, denying science and destroying the Federal government. The bottom line for the GOP is the fact that they have created an anti-government monster fed on a steady diet of false patriotism and talking point filled narratives. Until GOP leaders wake up and change their course, its efforts to reinvent themselves will fail, proving you can fool some of the people some of the time, but not all of the people all of the time. Until they get it right, it's going to be virtually impossible to "put the paste back into the tube."