Politics, particularly Presidential politics is risky racing like Formula 1. Everything is taken to the limit and like Formula 1 every performance [debate, campaign event, TV attack ad, Web presence to Tweet, and election result]is polled, monitored, and analyzed in almost excuciating detail. And there is a surplus of political operatives suggesting how to drive the agenda, make the coalitions, and spin the campaign twist and turns to local political advantage. But the basic driving political engine is the Base. That is the core set of groups that have coalesced and come together to advance their disparate causes for mutual gain and as little as possible antagonism and internecine warfare under the Republican party banner. But this year the wheels have come off the Base and the Grand Old Party is going to have a carreening crash that it will be hard pressed to recover from by November 2012.
The erratic performance started early with Gov. Sarah Palin in or out, Gov. Mitch Daniels in or out, Gov. Mike Huckabee in or out, Donald Trump in or out, Gov. Chris Christie in or out- all these set the GOP campaign off on a wobbly track. But the debate and polls confirmed a volatile Republican electorate as Michelle Bachmann, Newt Gingrich, Rick Perry, Herman Cain, Ron Paul, Rick Santorum, Mitt Romney, and Newt Gingrich again have all taken a lead in the polls and have achieved “election” victories. Those GOP tires have been drumbeating worse than a NASCAR bucket of bolts. Why so much “Cognitive Dissonance” better known as Feuding Folks in the GOP Fold?
To this one only has to take a glance at solidity of the GOP Base. Imagine the following:
– Farm and Small Business men dependent on illegal immigrants coming together with the GOP Immigration Lobby;
– Tea Party debt crusaders sympathizing with Wall Street Bankers and Hedge Funders who are demanding continuiing zero interest rates, huge compensation packages and other deficit creating subsidies;
– Right to Lifers and the Medicare Generation seeing eye to eye with the extreme GunsRights campaigners seeking looser regulations on concealed, automatic and silenced weapons;
– The GOP 20% unemployed in many counties in States as disparate as Nevada, Ohio, and South Carolina wanting to support GOP traditional Big Business many of whom have outsourced and exported vital jobs overseas;
– The Evangelicals and Christian Prayer in Schools defenders admiring and supporting the Neocons wanting to strike out on another war heedless of unintended consequences – perhaps in Iran, North Korea, Somalia or other enemies of the US as in Lebanon[Reagan] or Iraq[Bush];
– Adopt an anti-science, anti-measurement approach inimical to most engineering and business interests but welcomed by GOP special interests in their campaigns to elude responsibility for the true costs of their gains;
– Resist gay rights and stigmatize them so they can be controlled by federal and state measures in society;
– Be among 43% of Mortgage holders who are GOP and have been foreclosed on or are underwater yet have to see their GOP side with Wall Street against foreclosure limits, against reducing underwater loan levels, and actively resisting the Consumer Financial Protection Agency that would prevent suc h excesses in the future;
– Be a GOP Middle Class watching the traitorous lobbying elitist Grover Norquist whose 30 year “Starve the Beast” policy created the bulk of the US Deficits under Reagan, Bush 1 and Bush 2. Now Norquist is rushing to lead the charge against deficits with his mindless “no new taxes” pledge that hobbles 200+ GOP Senators and Congressmen who have pledged allegiance to Norquist for some trickles of campaign support. Meanwhile., Norquist is protecting his own kind, essentially the richest of the rich, whose taxes paid as a % of income have reached historical lows compared to that same GOP Middle Class.
And these are just a few of the wonderful things binding Republicans together.
Given these constituents it is no surprise that only one policy can unite these diverging desires and political interests – that is to make President Obama be perceived as worse than the worst US President in history, George W. Bush [see Republican Andrew Sullivan’s brilliant essay on this topic here]. Do this by refusing to co-operate with President at all, Use the 40 vote Filibuster rule in the Senate not just to block judicial appointments but also Obama department budgets plus dozens of Obama executive Cabinett appointments [“see, the agencies arent working because their managers aren’t there”. Key adminstrators , especially in financial administration and regulatory control AWOL because key appointmentsre have not been approved 3 years into the term and their budgets cut. The nihilism is deliberate such that one can easily find the GOP spurning Republican policies offered. As Andrew Sullivan has shown, this is a dangerous strategy because to date President Obama has occupied the center-right over the past 3 years in office to hiw own party’s chagrin.
So now in a party of elites and 1%-ers ruling the roost, South Carolina Republicans said enough already. They rejected the overwhelming favorite of two weeks ago, Mitt Romney, and elected Newt Gingrich, based on his populist leanings. True there were coded racial overtones by Newt. True Newt played to the evangelicals and half a dozen other Base special interests. But the bulk of the campaign was apopulist one against the ruling elites as represented by the Bain capitalized Mitt Romney. Newt neatly skirted the issue of “attacking capitalism”, but rather asked how did Mitt accrue his super 1% wealth by asking did he pay his fair share of taxes and did the Bain years under Mitt Romney truly net 100,000 jobs for the US and what indeed is the Romney Jobs plan.
So now the wheels have flown off the GOP Base. Recriminations and attack ads will redouble in ferocity. US Supreme Court-approved Super Pacs will be unleashing internecine attack ads of gigantic proportions in Florida and the upcoming GOP primaries. The GOP Base is now crashing out of control – and the Republican Establishment trying to tamp down the populist cataclysm is itself discredited as being one of the elites manipulating events to their own advanatge. GOP – welcome to Occupy WallStreet.