In 2003, Karl Rove expressed that hubris to New York Times. Rove told writer Ron Suskind, "that guys like me (Suskind) were in what we call 'the reality-based community', which he defined as people who 'believe that solutions emerge from your judicious study of discernible reality.' I nodded and murmured something about enlightenment principles and empiricism. He cut me off. 'That's not the way the world really works anymore,' he continued. 'We're an empire now, and when we act, we create our own reality. And while you're studying that reality -- judiciously, as you will -- we'll act again, creating other new realities, which you can study too, and that's how things will sort out. We're history's actors... and you, all of you, will be left to just study what we do." (“Without a Doubt”, New York Times, October 17, 2004)
There is no a calculator with enough zeros to sum the ways Rove was wrong, as evidenced by the recent election cycle in which a Democrat was re-elected to president and gains made across the Congressional board at a time of deep economic pain. That should trouble the GOP campaign funders who, a recent New York Times editorial speculated, "are likely to be more skeptical when people like Mr. Rove come calling."
American Crossroads, the super PAC founded by Karl Rove, spent $104 million in the general election, but none of its candidates won. The United States Chamber of Commerce spent $24 million backing Republicans in 15 Senate races; only two of them won. Sheldon Adelson, the casino mogul, spent $53 million on nine Republican candidates, eight of whom lost.
But let's skip the billions and trillions and American treasure put at risk in wars created by "history's actors". Rove et al. were defeated by their own hubris, but no one in a position of power within the GOP has the guts to show them the door. Back in 1964 when Barry Goldwater told Republicans "extremism in defense of liberty is no vice", he had mainly the John Birch Society to cheer him to defeat against President Lyndon Johnson. In 2012, that narrow slice of the American electorate -- emboldened by the culture wars -- have throttled all dissent within the Republican Party.
In the Washington Post, Kathleen Parker wrote, "The GOP seems willfully clueless". Part of the problem is institutional: the GOP is paternalistic to the core: its default position is the Jeb! Bush "my way or the highway". "We need to insult fewer people," GOP strategist Bob Frum told Politico. Parker writes, "The party doesn't need a poll or a focus group. It needs a mirror."
Put simply: there are not enough voters to buy what the GOP reality creators are selling. That leaves the GOP to commission polls that deliver what history's actors want to hear. Changing demographics, the failure to expand the Republican base, the avoidance of the biggest calamity to the hubris of history's actors -- climate change and global warming -- the GOP needs to find its way back to reality at the precise moment after party radicals succeeded in flushing every Republican moderate out of Congress.
The young GOP standard bearers -- like Paul Ryan, who couldn't deliver Wisconsin, or Marco Rubio, who couldn't deliver Florida to Mitt Romney's side -- may be telegenic, capable of delivering a sound bite to the Fox News script, and conservative to the core, but they are the top of the wrong pyramid.
The book shelf has an entire section of history's actors whose follies no one remembers or recalls.