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Born at the Crest of the Empire

Monday, November 10, 2008

Southern rump.....

I'm not a believer that this election marked a permanent political or geographic realignment, I tend to view it more as a Dem high tide, but, to some lesser degree, the broader trends do feel real, Democrats increasing their holds in the midwest, pushing down south into Virginia, beginning to make some gains in the west and southwest..... Even beyond this election, Dems are eating into traditional Republican ground.

There is an argument, broader than this election, that the Republican party is potentially turning into a "Southern rump." That is the great battle. That is the great Republican civil war.

The real danger for the GOP is that their major voices, their top figures in Washington, are now mostly from the crazy Southern wing of the party. To some degree, that's out of their control as the more moderate reps in the more moderate districts were bound to be more susceptible against a rising Dem tide, but the real danger is that their remaining major voices on the national stage, those representatives in "deep red" enough districts to have survived, are way, way out of the mainstream.

For example, take this yobo, a Congressman from Georgia in an on the record interview with the AP,
"It may sound a bit crazy and off base, but the thing is, he's the one who proposed this national security force," Rep. Paul Broun said of Obama in an interview Monday with The Associated Press. "I'm just trying to bring attention to the fact that we may — may not, I hope not — but we may have a problem with that type of philosophy of radical socialism or Marxism."

Or maybe this from the "next great hope" of the Republican party, Sarah Palin,
"I'm like, OK, God, if there is an open door for me somewhere, this is what I always pray, I'm like, don't let me miss the open door," Palin said in an interview with Fox News on Monday. "And if there is an open door in '12 or four years later, and if it is something that is going to be good for my family, for my state, for my nation, an opportunity for me, then I'll plow through that door."

That's the real battle for the Republican party. These people, these ideological "dead enders," clinging on to their ideology long after its been rejected.... The ones that are left are broadly way out of the mainstream. The centrist core has been substantially eroded.

So, how does the GOP mainline structure come to explain that "crazy" doesn't sell anymore?

Really, for such a transformation to take place, it will likely take a concerted effort across the more populist arm of the GOP's media spectrum. It'll take Fox"News," Limbaugh, Hannity, Dobson and the religious leaders, and all the rest of them to drag the rank and file GOP'ers out of the culdesac where they've been led.

It's interesting. For twenty years, the GOP has been cultivating its own media channels specifically to insulate its followers from the mainstream. So, how now do they begin to reintegrate them?

Because if they don't, if they do continue to "cling to guns and religion" as their issues (I know, out of context,) they truly may end up being that southern rump.

And, as we all know, there's nothing more appealing to the rest of America than ignorant, opinionated Southerners.

(Again, I do believe that we're at a Republican low ebb, so this probably overstates the issue, but there is a way that the Republican party could go very, very wrong here. I thought that piece in the WSJ yesterday really captured the perils of a GOP that embraces ignorance.)

The one benefit the GOP do have is that, thus far, there isn't one of those "southern Republicans" poised and in position to take over the GOP. Most of the supposed favorites don't come out of that wing. Watch the RNC chair battle, and the effects coming out of the Republican Governors Association meeting. It will give a sense of the ground where the battle is being fought. Are they trying to "out Republican" each other or are they trying to lead in a different direction? And which message sells better?

This is just late night stream of consciousness, so treat it as such.

(Kinda spawned by (NYTimes) Sparring Starts as Republicans Ponder Future and (NYTimes) For South, a Waning Hold on National Politics.)


  • From what I've found so far is that the ideological bound GOP faithful that hold irrelevant views long after they're useful are not going to give up those views easily. They have a nearly pathological devotion to a world view that fits their passions and not their intellect. Much like the bitter American Idol contestants that can't carry a note in a bag but the judges are 'just stupid'. Delusional and angry. eek.

    By Blogger matt, at 10:19 PM  

  • True. It's a basic component of fundamentalism (not just religious, but also political) that when the group is under threat, there is always an impulse to go more stringent, more fundamental.

    "It didn't work because we're not pure enough."

    By Blogger mikevotes, at 7:07 AM  

  • "True. It's a basic component of fundamentalism (not just religious, but also political) "

    Exactly the point. But I would add that there is a very fine line -- and sometimes no line at all -- between religion and politics when it comes to fundamentalism.

    By Blogger -epm, at 7:52 AM  

  • Oh yeah. But I always try to qualify when that I'm talking about political fundamentalism in relation to the GOP, because it's borader than just religious issues including other litmuses like guns or whatever.

    There definitely closely the same, but since we're talking about the political party here, the fundamentalism in question is devotion to the GOP.

    The traits are the same, but the focus is slightly different.

    Am I making sense?

    By Blogger mikevotes, at 8:12 AM  

  • that's out of their control as the more moderate reps in the more moderate districts were bound to be more susceptible against a rising Dem tide

    I just don't see this. Moderates in the Republican Party have been hounded out of power by the Party itself. Perfect example: my former Congressman Ramstad, a moderate who retired because he couldn't take the pressure from his own Party anymore. The Party's reaction was along the lines of "Good riddance".
    There were a few "quasi-moderates" Republicans challenging incumbents this time, but it was because the Party strongly favoured wealthy candidates who could self-fund their campaigns, not because of any new embrace of moderates.

    They're definitely closely the same, but since we're talking about the political party here, the fundamentalism in question is devotion to the GOP.

    The traits are the same, but the focus is slightly different.

    I grasp the distinction you are making, but the fact remains that the Republican Party is much closer to a religious denomination than what passes for an American political Party. I have outlined this at length before, and it has little to do with "devotion to the GOP". If the Party were to somehow turn into Goldwater Republicans, there would be a mass exodus of the "devoted".

    Rove's evil brilliance in employing the "anti-intellectual" approach may have won an election, but it profoundly changed the nature of the Party. Under Bush, the situation changed from intelligently devious leaders and idiot followers into one of idiotically devious leaders and idiot followers.
    The idiots have gained the upper hand, and any complex views, policies, analyses (or even the appearances of intellect) are drowned out by internal charges of 'elitism', 'mumbo-jumbo', and 'detachment".

    It is now a 'faith-based' Party, not in the religious sense, but rather in the sense that it operates on belief instead of fact.

    And, again, this isn't to say that the Party is dead. There is still a broad demographic out there longing for simplistic answers, "us vs. them" conflict and good, old-fashioned jingoism. And just as McCain defined himself primarily as the "anti-Obama", so too will the Party re-define itself more as the "anti-Democrats" than as a viable alternative.

    But with the Bush Administration ending, there is no longer any money to be made as a "conservative intellectual", and no crony infrastructure to employ the loyal incompetents. Intelligence, education, and competence are now barriers to be overcome by anyone wishing to move up the food chain of the GOP. Who you hate, who you worship, and how deferential you are to those above you are all the defining credentials needed - anything else creates suspicion and resentment within the Party.

    By Blogger Todd Dugdale, at 9:09 AM  

  • Your first point is very valid. They moderates were outnumbered and pushed from prominent positions which then pushed the public face further right which undermined their appeal as "moderates."

    Second, I agree on the mixing of religion and politics in the GOP, but I'm just trying to make a distinction between fundamentalism regarding policy positions versus belief.

    As a different example, there are also the economic fundamentalists in the party.

    And, I think I wrote a post on Rove shift in the party, pushing them to the shrinking demographic of older whiter voters.

    As for pushing anti-intellectualism, that was part their approach into under 50K white males.


    And, the party is definitely not dead. This post was just kind of a look over a cliff they could head off if the "Southern" Republicans, with all the attendant associations, come to dominate.

    But I would say this, the Republican infrastructure is largely filled with very educated smart staffers and thinkers. (Although that's being undermined by the Liberty University Monica Goodlings.)

    I don't have a doubt that they have the tools to snap back reasonably quickly, the question comes down to whether those who are smart enough to pull that off end up at the controls.

    By Blogger mikevotes, at 10:37 AM  

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