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"...public opinion deserves to be respected as well as despised" G.W.F. Hegel, 'Philosophy of Right'

Republican futures « Previous | |Next »
October 26, 2008

The long election process in the US is drawing to a close, and even though, as the media says, it ain't over til it's over, Republicans and conservatives are preparing themselves for defeat. The economic upheaval with its rising unemployment and disappearing manufacturing jobs has queered the Republican's pitch of xenophobia and anti-cosmopolitanism, hatred of intellectuals, disdain for cities and the people who inhabit them, and the other forms of divisive populism and "anti-elitism".

Paul Harris in The Guardian argues that a potentially devastating Republican loss (on current polling trends) means that the party may be reduced to its core support in the solid red heartland that runs through Texas, Oklahoma, Alabama, Georgia and other southern and western states. He says that:

following a possible November defeat, the Republican party itself could still remain firmly in the hands of its conservative evangelical wing. Even as America drifts away from causes that right-wing evangelicals care about, the Republican base remains fixated on them .... In a process reminiscent of the Labour party in the 1980s and the Conservatives in the late 1990s, the Republicans could end up as an extremist rump, reduced to a few stronghold states and obsessed with causes [eg.,gay marriage, the teaching of evolution in schools and abortion] that seem not to matter to the general public.

If the polls turn out to be true, then Republicans would probably survive only in their heartland, thus thrusting the party further right at a time when the country has shifted left. That would, he says, mark a profound change similar to Ronald Reagan's win in 1980 which seemed to usher in a conservative-dominated era.

Palin's rhetoric appears to appeal to her followers desire to recapture something they have lost in America. Most of Palin's support come from rural Americans--- the "anti-intellectual" brand of Republican--- who see their way of life (as represented by a Norman Rockwell Saturday Evening Post cover) slipping away. Their paranoid style of politics, with its envy and resentment, is projected as contempt, hostility, and fear of the other onto (Muslims). This style of politics blames the "liberals, by which they roughly mean the "evil people with no moral values who hate and want to destroy America", for the loss.

| Posted by Gary Sauer-Thompson at 10:37 AM | | Comments (9)
Comments

Comments

Would the Republicans be doing so badly if the Democrats didn't have such a strong candidate, and if Bush wasn't so unpopular?

Evangelical style issues politics is only a small part of what's going on. It doesn't seem to be decider stuff this time around.

The McCain campaign is weighed down by the Bush burden and it is staggering under the load.

Nan, Bush/McCain appears to be Obama's big message since he got back from Hawaii. It effectively counters anything the McCain camp can come up with.

Lyn,
Nan is probably right. The burden is that the Republicans are deemed responsible for the current economic crisis. That is a hard burden to throw off.

Lyn,
Harold Meyerson argues in American Prospect that the Southern Strategy -- the strategic doctrine that has underpinned the rise of the Republican Party over the past four decades -- is coming undone. He says:

Since 1968, Republicans have exploited the racial and cultural resentments of Southern whites brilliantly. Their control of the White House for 24 of the last 40 years, and of Congress from 1994 through 2006, was rooted in the overwhelming support they won from Southern whites.

The strategy was premised on the South's distinct identity -- that it was home to a more rural, less educated, more militaristic, more churchgoing, less tolerant, more racist white population than the nation's other regions. It has worked like a charm in areas where Southern backwardness has been immutable

It is coming undone because modernity, in the form of internal development, greater racial diversity, and migration from the North, has finally begun to alter the political identity of key Southern states.

If McCain loses the Republican Party is going to undergo trauma. The American electorate has changed and the Republicans have not changed with them.They've turned right when they should turned to the centre.

Nan,
Clive Cook in the Financial Times says: once McCain had secured the conservative base with the Palin selection then Palin needed to withstand scrutiny and McCain e needed to exploit the opportunity this gave him to move his campaign to the centre. He comments:

Even more important than the Palin meltdown is the failure of the McCain campaign to court independents with a positive centrist agenda. Especially in domestic policy, the Republican’s campaign was light on substance and heavy on big talk and frantic gestures. The gathering economic crisis heightened this tendency. Lacking policies to explain, he fought an increasingly nasty campaign, aimed not so much at Mr Obama’s programme – a worthy target in many respects – but at his character.

Most elections are decided by voters in the middle.

McCain's tragedy is that he allowed himself to become trapped in the Republican machine and their corporate backers. Palin was able to tap the grass roots support the Republicans need to appeal to, but she couldn't move beyond the conservative base to the independents ----despite of the expensive designer outfits.

Peter, the population movement has also come from migration from south America and, rather oddly, Cuban populations in Florida. Obama's taking the young from everywhere.

Nan, McCain's other tragedy is that his only strengths are the foreign policy/military type. The minute attention was diverted to domestic problems he was gone.

There now appear to be divisions within campaign headquarters between the McCain and Palin camps. That can't be helping anything, plus a big newspaper in Anchorage has endorsed Obama.

Anon pointed out that elections are decided by the middle, but McCain and Palin are now losing the cultural right on top of the intellectual right.