U.K. Socialist ECONOMIST Viewpoints on GOP
Posted in the Robbinsdale Forum
#1 Feb 14, 2013
The future of the Republican Party
The politics of purity
Feb 14th 2013, 19:52 by Lexington
MY COLUMN this week looks at the fight that has broken out within the Republican Party over primaries, as the party establishment and the insurgent right argue about how to avoid blowing big races in 2014 and beyond with unelectable candidates.
On the face of it party grandees and anti-establishment groups—such as the Club for Growth or sundry tea party outfits—are arguing about races that were lost in 2010 and 2012.
The establishment points to candidates backed by outside groups who threw away winnable races, notably in the Senate. The list is extensive. In Delaware in 2010 there was Christine O'Donnell, an erratic pro-chastity activist whose tea-fuelled campaign at one point ran TV ads denying that she was a witch. In Missouri in 2012 there was Todd Akin, a fierce social conservative whose campaign imploded after he claimed—against all medical evidence—that women subjected to what he called "legitimate rape" rarely fall pregnant, because their bodies have ways to "shut that whole thing down".
As the first 2014 primaries draw near, the establishment (most prominently in the form of a new fighting fund backed by Karl Rove, the former election guru of the Bush dynasty) has started looking for new, Akin-style troublemakers. Steven Law, the head of the new Rove-backed fighting fund, the Conservative Victory Project, has named Steve King—an anti-immigration hardliner from the House of Representatives who is pondering a Senate run in Iowa—as someone with a “Todd Akin problem”. Mr King’s antics include building a model border fence in the House chamber (electrified, he noted: as we do “with livestock”), and calling immigration a “slow-motion terrorist attack”.
Another fighting fund, run by the centrist Republican Main Street Partnership, says it will intervene in primaries to defend moderates—or what its boss Steve LaTourette, a former congressman from Ohio, calls the “governing wing of the Republican Party”. As an early test, the Main Street fund is looking at the House primary in South Carolina's first district, where grandees are dismayed to see Mark Sanford, a disgraced former governor, launching a come-back bid. Readers may remember that Mr Sanford, a flinty conservative, disappointed South Carolina voters (but cheered collectors of political euphemisms) when he was caught visiting his mistress in Argentina while claiming to be "hiking the Appalachian trail".
A Senate primary in Georgia is also causing furrowed brows in Washington, thanks to the candidacy of Paul Broun, a member of the House of Representatives, physician and big-game hunter, who argues that President Barack Obama is a Marxist bent on destroying the free enterprise system. Mr Broun leapt to notoriety last year when he was filmed telling a group of Baptist hunting enthusiasts that, looking back on years of scientific training, he had come to realise that: "All that stuff I was taught about evolution and embryology and Big Bang theory, all that is lies straight from the pit of hell." Despite some sniggering in the national and international press, Mr Broun cruised to re-election, though in a nice display of local dissent, 4000 locals reportedly wrote in the name of Charles Darwin on their ballot papers.
By way of retort, tea party types and anti-establishment groups point to establishment-backed candidates who lost winnable races from North Dakota to Virginia. Todd Akin is not an interesting example of anything, the head of the Club for Growth told me: he lost because he made some "really stupid comments."
#2 Feb 14, 2013
In my print column this week, I suggest that, nasty though this dispute about losing may seem, the real fight underway within the Republican Party is still more vicious:
beyond the finger-pointing, establishment Republicans and insurgents broadly share the goal of avoiding Akin-style losers. Their really poisonous disagreement involves Akin-style winners. Before he was undone by the scrutiny that comes with a statewide Senate race, Mr Akin was a six-term member of the House of Representatives, maintaining a posture of insurgency via hardline votes and clashes with party leaders. He won his last House election with 68% of the vote. It is the collective power wielded by Republicans from such safe districts and their distaste for compromise (strongly reinforced by fears of primary challenges if their purity wavers), that really divides establishment Republicans from the insurgent right Fixing that is going to be hard, especially if the establishment’s main weapon is television advertising, funded from afar. Money in politics is like the wind in sailing, says Mark Weaver, an Ohio campaign consultant. Nothing moves without it, but someone still has to steer: primaries are won when money and the grassroots combine.
In recent elections, the insurgent right, being filled with passion, has enjoyed an edge on grassroots mobilisation. To be awkward, the Karl Roves of this world could also be charged with hypocrisy, as they throw their hands up in horror at candidates like Mr Akin. After all, Mr Rove and his like once embraced the same religious forces that empowered Mr Akin, using gay-marriage ballots and other gimmicks to drive up Republican turnout at the 2004 election, blurring divisions between social and economic conservatives in ways that still harm the party among centrist voters.
And yet the party does have a primary problem. Most visibly, the contests have saddled the party with high-profile losers. But perhaps still more lethally, they also promote extremism among those who go on to win many races, harming the Republican national brand. Fixing that may enrage the party’s different insurgent tribes. The grandees may have a nerve in complaining about the power of forces they knowingly unleashed. But they know they have to do something about primaries: their party's future depends on it.
#3 Feb 14, 2013
The article is how Europe views the GOP.
The GOP needs to go back to Less Government and More Consitution if it wants to win
#4 Feb 14, 2013
To become the CONSTITUTION PARTY
Leaders like Ron Paul are needed to lead
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