(Republican angst - hand wringing is timeless)
As the election returns poured in proclaiming Harry Truman the surprise winner in 1948 (much to the dismay of the Mainstream Media, who had declared Thomas Dewey, the Republican candidate, the winner by a landslide, even before votes were counted), a stunned Republican Party wondered aloud if this spelled the end of the GOP.
Clearly, history proved otherwise, but in 1948 it was the subject of much gnashing of teeth, weeping and soul searching on behalf of pundits and party members alike.
On December of 1948, a few weeks after the stunning upset, The University of Chicago Round Table hosted a panel discussing the subject "Is the Republican Party Over?". The panel featured Senators Raymond E. Baldwin (R - Conn.), Ralph E. Flanders (R- Vermont) and Congressman Clifford Hope (R-Kansas). The moderator Robert Horn set the tone:
Robert Horn: “I am a Republican and I am disturbed about the future of the Republican Party. After the shock of the election, I am beginning to wonder like millions of others what the future holds for the Republican Party or whether it has any future. This year marked the fifth consecutive defeat for Republican Presidential candidates. This Presidential election was the closest one since 1916. But Governor Dewey in 1948 received fewer votes than he got in 1944, although more votes were cast this year than in 1944. And Republican Congressional candidates generally ran below Dewey this year. In fact, Governor Dewey received only 600,000 more votes than Herbert Hoover received in 1928, although there are many more million potential and actual voters now than there were twenty years ago. Moreover, this fifth consecutive defeat means that the Republicans by 1952 will be out of the White House for the longest time that either the Democrats or the Republicans have been out of power since the end of the Civil War. The Republicans can no longer claim to be the majority part of the country. Many people are saying that unless the Republican Party changes it will die. If I were a Democrat I would also be disturbed about the future of the Republican Party.”
The obvious difference between the Republican Party of 1948 and the Republican Party of 2009 is the absence of the lunatic fringe then, which today appears to be driving away all those sane and moderate voices that would otherwise aid in the healing process and perhaps steer the party in a constructive direction.
Nothing like that appears to be anywhere on the horizon I'm afraid.