I’m listening to the Republican strategists trying to figure out what happened and can’t help but feel that they’re still missing something.
Several of them are claiming that they lost because their candidate was “not conservative enough.” That this “betrayed” their values and led to a failure to bring off the electoral coup they’d hoped for.
I’m shaking my head. “Not conservative enough?” Please. You had a couple of those and your own base chose someone else. If those “values” of which you speak mattered that much, Rick Santorum would have been your man. Maybe Michele Bachman, but, if I’m reading your values correctly, she has a major flaw—she’s female. The fact is, your own primary season selected against the more conservative candidate. (Given that by and large only the true Party faithful vote in primaries, in either Party, we can properly say that this represents your base.) The more consistently conservative choices were weeded out. Santorum on one end, Johnson on the other. They chose Romney because he represented the desires of the Party faithful.
Which brings us to the problem. Which Party?
The reason the GOP lost this time (and frankly it wasn’t much of a loss, popular-vote-wise) is because it is made up of two very different kinds of Americans.
On the one hand, you have those Republican voters who are all about the money. They don’t want taxes going up and they don’t want the government spending what money it does have on things they find wasteful. These folks are borderline Libertarian in many ways. They believe they are the only arbiters of their destiny and know better than the government how to manage their own lives. They believe in the independent American.
On the other side, you have a solid group of people who, if you forgive the language, are all about stopping people from fucking. When you look at all the things they want stopped—gay marriage, abortion, access to contraception, banning of pornography—and all the things they support—traditional marriage, a resurgent religiosity—it is obvious that they are terribly concerned about what other people are doing in bed. Never mind how you feel about this as an issue, this is what it boils down to.
These two groups are not natural allies.
The first group to a large extent believes the individual has the right to determine his or her own life choices and they want the government to step back. They believe they are the arbiters of their own fate.
The second group believes in binding everyone to a single fate.
Or at least into a standard model of conformity.
They are bound together only by the single point of convergence that neither group likes the way things currently are being run.
But the “fiscal” conservatives do not necessarily find the “social” conservatives, at least not in their extremes, particularly appealing.
So the GOP has a fundamental tension in its belly.
That is why they lost.
At least nationally. In the congressional districts, where incessant redistricting has created enclaves where one or the other of these two groups have come to dominate, congressional elections went well for them—not so much the senate, which is from a much wider base.
Anyway, it’s amusing to listen to these folks opine that they need to find someone more conservative next time. What did they think would have happened if Rick Santorum had gotten the nomination this time? He’s only slightly less—what’s the phrase?—“out of the mainstream” than Todd Akin.
They need to do something about the worm in their belly.
Addendum: in my own state, Missouri, talk about why we’ve gotten so much Redder led one analyst to opine that it’s the result of the fact that we have fewer Latinos, that we’ve fallen behind the national shift in diversity. While that may be true, I think it misses the point: it says nothing about the mindset of the people who do live here, and that’s the relevant question.