The clown show that passes for the Republican primaries has been truly astounding. Never before in American history has the public ever witnessed such a collection of nitwits, retards, mountebanks, religious zealots, zombies, flat earth enthusiasts, and tinfoil hat wearers. I do not have to mention their names. They are already too familiar to you.
But one must ask the question, "Why?" Why is there such an incredible cast of clowns, and what does this mean to the Republican Party and even America? For the GOP, I'm afraid the answer is not very good. I've said before that Rick Santorum has a stranglehold on say, 30% of the electorate. The only problem is, that it gets nigh on impossible for Mr. Santorum to garner each additional 1% of the voters.
Even with the incredible fundraising advantages that the Republicans have and the built in advantage of having F*x News as a national propaganda organ -- I do not see happy feet dancing over the results of the November presidential electon. Big money in the GOP is already in the process of playing defense by diverting their millions to keeping congressional and statehouse races.
NOTE TO PROGRESSIVES: REREAD THAT LAST SENTENCE AND FORM YOUR STRATEGY ACCORDINGLY.
But, that is not why I'm writing this. I'd like to explain one reason why I think that Republicans and the far right are beginning to be in such serious difficulties. The inspiration for this posting came from the book Off Center: The Republican Revolution & the Erosion of American Democracy by Jacob S. Hacker and Paul Pierson. It's a great book if you don't know about the breath and depth of American conservative political machinery in the USA.
On page 136, there was this quote:
The New Power brokers are not marrying off GOP loyalists of course, (or at least so far as we know). But they are engaging in their own matchmaking, linking powerful interests with supportive politicians and mobilized activists.
Here the authors are referring to such groups as the American Conservative Union, Citizens for Tax Reform, The Council on Growth, Americans for Prosperity, The Christian Coalition... I could go on.
But when I read this, I realized that in fact what the disparate conglomeration of conservative groups has been doing since the mid 1970s has been in fact continuous inbreeding. Since every other conservative group adjusts its agenda to the line of the day, the working relations between each group have gotten tighter and tighter. And the ideological spiral gets tighter and tighter, tinier and tinier.
When you're growing your influence, this is a powerful reinforcing tool -- going a long way to explain the rising influence of American conservativism. But there's a Murphy's Law going on here, too. And that is, as each of these organizations become more alike, they do so at the expense of ignoring the wishes of the American public in general. And their groupthink leads to magical thinking -- that somehow their most unpalatable positions need to aired, and that the voters will somehow swallow this crap with the same ease that they swallowed less repulsive issues before.
There are already huge gaps between specific policies of the Republican Party and the electorate at large. But in particular, the issue of womens' choice looms largest now. And the candidacy of Rick Santorum and the bloviating of Rush Limbaugh are beginning to show just what a tiny minority this political tail is as it tries to wag the American dog.
Fundamentalist right-to-lifers have been the driving force in going against such fundamentals as birth control, and they will not be moved. In the primaries, all of the GOP candidates have to pander to this pro-life mob. The ideological unity of the Republican Party is now such that it dangerously represents a party move into the box canyon of massive defeat in the general election. This is because the fundamentalist right-to-life ideology as expressed by the Republican Party is totally unpalatable to 52% of the electorate. And the last time I did my math, 52% beats 30% every day of the week, when you split the difference in the undecided.
The right to life policies of Santorum et. al. represents an existential challenge to American conservatism, which is simply wonderful for anyone else. And the prospect of continued knife fighting in the Republican primaries should warm the hearts of anyone with an IQ greater than 100, or a political persuasion of center or more left.