Paul Krugman is one of the most powerful, rational voices in America. I'm sure he won't mind me excerpting the following from his latest blog post:
[T]oday’s Republican party is an alliance between the plutocrats and the preachers, plus some opportunists along for the ride — full stop. The whole party is about low taxes at the top (and low benefits for the rest), plus conservative social values and putting religion in the schools; it has no other reason for being. Someday there may emerge another party with the same name standing for a quite different agenda; after all, the Republicans were once defined by opposition to slavery, and the Democrats by rural voters (hence the donkey) and Tammany Hall. But that will take a long time, and it won’t really be the same party.Knocked it out of the park. Amazing.
Finally, it’s true that there are some Republican intellectuals and pundits who seem to be truly open-minded about both economic and social issues. But I worded that carefully: they “seem to be” open-minded; indeed, they’re professional seemers. When it matters, they can always be counted on — after making a big show of stroking their chins and agonizing — to follow the party line, and reject anything that doesn’t go along with the preacher-plutocrat agenda. If they don’t deliver when it counts, they are excommunicated; see Frum, David.
Anyone who imagines that there is any real soul-searching going on is deluding himself or herself.