Simple enough, but often lost in the shouting over specific issues. Thus it's sometimes worthwhile to step back and review first principles. A successful political organization is one that achieves the political power to implement its favored policies. This is entirely separate from what those policies might be in specific - success at the political level means nothing more or less than gaining and retaining a majority so as to be the party in power.
Which brings us to the hothouse of hatred and exclusion that is today's Republican party. It all started decades ago with the realization that they could advance their political popularity by supporting a set of social positions as part and parcel of their ideological agenda. This served them well for a very long time, leading to the pinnacle of political success for movement conservatism with the 2004 "God, Gays and Guns" Presidential election. The problem with including purely social issues in a public policy agenda is that the broad view of those issues can change, sometimes suddenly, sometimes generationally, but in any instance these are views that need to evolve more than policy positions on more traditional economic and governance matters. That is, they need to evolve in order to achieve political success, which has previously been the primary goal of a political organization. This no longer seems to be the case, however, with the GOP.
Increasingly there seem to be a series of Republican political and media leaders who have completely lost sight of the connection between ideology and politics. Instead of working to sell their public policy ideas in order to attract as many supporters as possible, they seem to instead wield their divisive social and ideological positions as a club, without either the recognition or even concern that they are doing tremendous damage to their political goals.
It was bad enough when they lost the African American, Gay and secular votes. They could at least build a narrative that they were sacrificing the votes of small, specific groups that were unlikely to support their policy agenda in order to appeal to the broad center. At some point, certainly, if your political movement succeeds in alienating enough 'small groups', what you end up with is a broad opposition coalition that can prevent you from achieving a majority - and that's where the Republicans already find themselves. But now the attacks on women are just inexplicable. This has nothing to do with policy - their policies, from reproductive rights to equal pay to paid leave have always been strongly anti-women, but the other social positions tended to position them to keep from losing women's votes by large percentages.
But now, from Todd Aiken to Erick Erickson, the voices of movement conservatism are being raised in expression of support for an institutional inequality that is clearly recognized as heinous misogyny by all who have experienced it firsthand. It was one thing politically to represent the party of white supremacy when whites represented well over half the voting population, but women ARE half the voting population. And the amazing thing to an outside observer is just how unnecessary these self-inflicted wounds actually are. The general cultural dominance of men over women could be supported, if not completely preserved, by the old standard policy positions of pro-life, pro-church and pro-family stalking horses that allowed them to preserve a strong women's vote while essentially holding these same male-dominant beliefs. A full-throated cry for what can only be accurately described as discrimination against women is unnecessary from an ideological standpoint and clearly counter-productive politically.
Part of me wants to just shrug my shoulders, make some popcorn and watch the train wreck. The Republican party has become so foul, so fascist and un-democratic, so destructive to lives and communities, that its ultimate demise as a national political power cannot be seen as a bad thing. But it's also worrisome, in that if the result is a dominant Democratic party and a fragmented, splintered, ineffective opposition, the result is single party rule and the risk of a drift into even greater authoritarianism and autocratic governance. If history has taught us anything, it is that those with unchecked power will always seek even more unchecked power, and the outcome is never good for the people in the community.