How radical is the current Republican Party? Here is how a prominent conservative describes it:
No entity in our polity right now is more radical and revolutionary than the current GOP: their contempt for institutional custom knows few bounds when it comes to the short-term tactical possibility of impeding even a newly re-elected president, after losing the popular vote for the presidency, Senate and House. The whole concept of putting country before party is that sometimes you take the long national view rather than the short partisan one. You give the other party a chance to govern, as the Democrats did Reagan. But the anti-conservative revolutionary party that Gingrich began and Kristol egged on is now in its zombie stage – with no viable way back to majority status but lunging slowly and malevolently toward anything that is not far right. That includes the Constitution and its evolved customs and parliamentary traditions. [emphasis added]
Did you notice that part in bold? In this last election the Republicans lost not only the popular vote for President, but the combined votes for all Senators and all House candidates! They are a true minority party now and as Andrew Sullivan writes in the above piece, they have no viable way to turn that around. However, they remain extremely popular in the Fox News states in the South and rural states who will continue to send the ignorant, the fundamentalists, the fear-mongerers, and the gunslingers to Washington to embarrass themselves and their party.
The country is no longer split between liberals and conservatives, but between the rational and the irrational, and the rational voters, both lefties and righties, are in the majority nationaly.
I don't know how this will end. As long as majorities in the solidly red states and Congressional Districts (the irrational) insist that facts, reality, common sense, and the Constitution are dangerous liberal commodities that must be opposed at all costs(!), we will continue to be a failed nation, as the irrational politicians they send to Washington do everything in their power to make sure nothing proposed by a Democrat ever gets passed nor any Democratic political appointee ever gets confirmed.
Update: I thought this comment from Fred Kaplan via The Dish about the Hagel confirmation hearing reinforces my points made above nicely:
Not to sound like a Golden Age nostalgic, but there once was a time when the members of the Senate Armed Services Committee prided themselves on having an understanding of military matters. They disagreed in their conclusions and sometimes their premises. But most of them worked to educate themselves, at least to the point where they could debate the issues, or ask questions of a general without coming off like complete idiots. The sad thing about this new crop of senators—especially on the Republican side—is they don’t even try to learn anything; they don’t care if they look like complete idiots, in part because their core constituents don’t care if they do either.