I thought I'd take a few minutes to comment on the current civil war that is brewing in the GOP, between the lunatic fringe and the dwindling moderate conservatives. That these two groups should eventually clash was somewhat inevitible. Nixon's Southern Strategy met with the Goldwater conservatism of the 60s and set the Republican party up to be able to marry the social issues of race and religion to economic issues of lower taxes and free market liberalism. The apogee of this strategy was seen in the coming of Reagan, who managed to obliterate Carter (and later Mondale) by snatching a huge amount of blue-collar Regean Democrats: people who were democrats on economic issues but conservatives on social ones. With them in tow, the Republicans stomped to victory.
Ah...the glory days.
However, such a coalition could not last forever. In this election cycle the big tent, already creaking, finally splintered. The proximate cause can be found in Sarah Palin, but I think the tensions were already showing. Nonetheless, Plain acts as a good symbol of what both sides expected from the party. Moderate Republicans saw Palin as a cynical choice but good enough to get them the tax breaks they wanted; radical Republicans genuinely liked her, much more than they liked McCain. As the election proceeded, moderate Republicans began to jump the sinking ship - many citing Palin as the problem; whereas the radicals complained she was being stifled.
Here, in microcosm, we saw the inconsistencies of the last 30 years of the Reagan coalition. Since the 70s moderates were happy to have the rubes along, provided the rubes didn't get ahead of themselves. But the rubes, however, saw moderates as as pointy-headed as liberals, and certainly had no intention of bowing to them. In time, the rubes ran for office and won. Consider the Republican primaries. 3 of the 10 candidates did not believe in evolution. The words lunatics and asylum jump into the mind.
Now, with the election over, both sides are blaming each other. Moderate republicans are holding their heads in their hands, wondering what went wrong, suggesting the Republicans redefine their brand and ditch backwoods politics. The Radicals argue that the campaign was insufficiently nutso in flavour and are advocating that Republicans tack even further right.
I have been enjoying the public weeping no end. I can remember the time when these thugs were intimidating everyone around them and slowly driving America into ruin and pulling the world along with them. So nice to see them in the wilderness. Even better for my schadenfreude is the public battling and purging that is going on. Any time a moderate jumped ship they were harrassed as traitors and heretics. Now with the election over, McCainites and Palinites are blaming each other for the loss. It seems to me that the radical side - as one might expect from a group which has a, let's say, instrumental view towards democracy - are baying for the most blood. The best example of this is "Operation Leper", the goal of which is to:
[track] down all the people from the McCain campaign now whispering smears against Governor Palin to [journalist] Carl Cameron and others...We intend to constantly remind the base about these people, monitor who they are working for, and, when 2012 rolls around, see which candidates hire them. Naturally then, you'll see us go to war against those candidates.
This program has the backing of loony-in-chief, Michelle Malkin.
The despair, the rage, the desperation. What can I tell you? I'm loving it.
Above: Ann Coulter and David Frum debate what went wrong