Blog Credo

The whole aim of practical politics is to keep the populace alarmed (and hence clamorous to be led to safety) by menacing it with an endless series of hobgoblins, all of them imaginary.

H.L. Mencken

Sunday, February 26, 2012

The End Of The Road

Excellent piece by John Heileman about what's happening within the GOP and what will happen should either R-Money or Frothy Mixture win the nomination.

At this point, the smart money is on Obama to beat either one of them.  Of course, some economic cataclysm between now and November could alter that, but I think it's unlikely at this point.  Europe could very well sink into a Japanese style stagnation, but that would not pose a problem for the American economy for a few years, as pent-up domestic demand is probably enough to create real growth in the short run.  If Iran sparks a war, it would trigger an energy crisis, but also a war, which tends to redound in the favor of the incumbent.  Dubya oversaw the worst attack on America since at least Pearl Harbor (if not Cold Harbor), and he saw his approvals rise to 90%.

So, anyway, Obama will beat Romney or Santorum, perhaps decisively so.  I also believe the nomination of either will lead to a credible third party of either social or economic conservatives that will further help Obama.

Heileman ends his piece by saying such a defeat would lead to the GOP to re-examine their direction, and whomever wins the nomination will become an avatar for a defeat that is really just a manifestation of the fracturing of the Reagan Coalition.  If Romney wins the nom and gets killed in the general, then the GOP lurches further rightward.  This is what leads us to the Palin nomination of 2016.  If Santorum wins, the "sane" moderate wing that is so comforting to the DC pundit class comes forward and we get another fking Bush heading the GOP ticket four years from now.

I think that's not quite right.  I think we are seeing the fracturing of a political coalition.

FDR managed to unite a fractious coalition of ethnic urban voters, working class union members and Southern yellow dog Democrats into a powerful coalition that really ruled America from 1932 until 1980.  The best way to look at that is not the White House but the House of Representatives which was held by the Democrats for all but two of those years.

Reagan created a new coalition that embraced working class social conservatives who were upset with the '70s, southern conservatives and economic royalists.  This coalition mobilized religious voters to pass tax cuts for the rich.  There was an inevitable tension there that was smoothed out by winning elections.

Meanwhile, the Democrats splintered into factions and identity politics.  Jesse Jackson versus Michael Dukakis is a good example of this.  Racial identity politics versus liberal technocrat.  The Democratic party stood for so many different things it stood for nothing.  The FDR coalition at least won victories and brought home the bacon.

And so, as the GOP conceivably enters a period in the electoral wilderness, they will be forced to reconcile the fractious nature of their coalition.  Ultimately though what brings down one of these victorious coalitions is not the actions of the party "on the outs" but rather the problems of the party "on the ins".  Bush's Iraq war and neglect of issues at home - as typified by Katrina - may have been the moment when the Reagan coalition began to fray.

If so, simply losing a landslide in 2012 will not magically lead to a re-evaluation of their "messaging".  It could lead to a decade out of power until the Democrats screw things up enough to lose their mandate.

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