Dodds and Stark on the McCain Campaign

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Read these posts by Roland Dodds (But I am a Liberal!) and Daniel Stark (The Stark Tenet) on the McCain campaign and the future of the Republican party. They saved me the trouble of posting something.

Roland writes:

Unfortunately for McCain, his candidacy has failed on two fronts: not only has it furthered a split in the Republican Party between its socially conservative rightwing base and its center, but McCain has also failed to energize the moderates, independents, and ‘mavericks’ he needed to win what everyone predicted to be a close election. This failure is likely to expose a rift in the Republican Party that has been a long time coming…

I think it’s also obvious that the Republican Party is headed for a dark period, regulated to being a weak opposition within government as the various factions within the organization battle for control. In my assessment, its already looking bad for the moderate wing, and the lackluster support individuals like myself have given McCain in recent months is unquestionably going to leave a bad taste in the mouths of the party loyal. The religious base will argue that the Party should have never drifted from a godly focus; the libertarians will say that interventionists and big government supporters are what brought the house down. Buchannan and his ilk will doubtlessly just blame the Jews. Lord knows where the Commentary neoconservative types are going to find themselves in this conflict, as they have surely been apologists for Palin and her many shortcomings as of late.

Daniel has a different perspective, arguing:

McCain was already working in a harsh political environment this election cycle, from a dissatisfied base, being a more center candidate for President, an unpopular President who shares the same party as him, an economic crisis, a neutralized issue (i.e. Iraq), among other things (you can add Palin as VP choice if you like). If McCain loses (which everyday seems more likely), you have a long list to choose from for the reason why. My money is on the economy.

As a unaffiliated moderate I make my choice on a variety of factors. John McCain scores enough points for me to receive my vote. From his foreign policy outlook, his stance on Iraq, his free trade record, his pragmatic bi-partisanship, his involvement in military issues for over twenty years and the fact we are currently in two wars, that he would preside over a divided government, that he can take on his own party on certain issues, that he has a record to run on, that he believes in federalism (even when it comes to social issues), that he calls for greater transparency in foreign aid we give out, that he has a long history of rejecting purity tests, that he rejects torture…that he is the right person at this present time to be President of the United States. Barack Obama doesn’t even compare.

Like Daniel, I am voting for McCain because I think he is the best candidate. Like Roland, I am more than a bit worried about the direction the Republican party is heading in, especially in the event of a McCain loss. I am not a registered Republican but based on what I am reading, I have a strong feeling party stalwarts will blame the loss on McCain’s centrism.

Unfortunately there is no faction in the Republican party analogous to the Democrat’s “Blue Dog Coalition“. The Blue Dogs are a moderating influence, preventing the liberal wing from dominating the party. In the case of the Republicans, most of the moderate Republicans have been driven out, at least at the national level.

To outsiders it seems like the Republican party is tearing itself apart. On the inside there is a struggle to determine which direction the party will move in the future, which faction will dominate. As others have written, the Republican party coalition crafted by Reagan was a stool with three legs, the social conservatives, fiscal/economic conservatives, and defense hawks. I would add two additional legs, nativists and libertarians. These constituencies often have contradictory policy preferences. For example, libertarians who support homosexual rights and social conservatives who want to ban gay marriage or economic conservatives who support free trade and nativists who want to close down the borders. Yet Reagan was somehow able to bring all of these groups together.

ADDED:

Donald Douglas (NeoConstant) Conservatives in Crisis

Rick Moran (Right Wing Nuthouse) Remaking the Rightroots

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6 responses »

  1. Thanks for the link and your contribution to this debate (I added your comments to my post).

    One thing is for sure, if the Republican party falls apart, the Democratic party won’t feel the need to go move towards the center (the “New Democrat” movement seemed to be more of a response to the popularity of Republicans at the time (i.e. the 80’s) rather than a turning point). We can only hope someone like Harold Ford Jr. or even Evan Bayh become leaders of the party in the future rather than what we have now; Harry Reid, Nancy Pelosi, and Barack Obama.

    We’ll see.

  2. “Yet Reagan was somehow able to bring all of these groups together.”

    This sadly says a lot about the current state of the Republican Party. I have problems with charismatic figures that are able to pull in conflicting ideas to join in an alliance, but even if that is necessary to win an election, Palin is not the person. While she may not be a radical Christianist (I am not convinced that she does not support their project), she obviously has had no interest in bridging gaps in the party. When the coming split in the party occurs, and I believe it will, I have a feeling she will be on the wrong side of it.

  3. “I am voting for McCain”, but you’ll get Palin.

    The job of President is one of the hardest in the world, lack of sleep, travel, meetings, etc

    McCain would probably keel over part way thru and then you get President Palin!

    Is that really what rational people should want?

    this flash web site sums her up:

    http://www.palinaspresident.us/

    click on door, twice 🙂

  4. There should be a better argument not to vote McCain than the merely biological fact of his age. Joe Biden is only 3-4 years younger than McCain. Obama refuses to make his own medical records available and he is known to have been a heavy smoker. All biological facts which may end up in incapacitating either one of the candidates.

    For my part, I respect NC for not bowing to the tidal wave of the Obamassy.

    I would hope that the process of democratic selection is a bit more elevated and thoughtful than the antics and arguments of life insurance agents…

  5. I agree that age can’t be the best argument, but the choice of a vice-president is pretty crucial, and McC’s age emphasises how wrong that choice was. I too respect NC for sticking with his guns, but I think he’s wrong.

    It is, of course, possible that the Republican right will blame McC’s centrism if he looses today, but I think that a colder clearer analysis would make it obvoius that the Palin factor was enormous in the melt-down of his campaign, and that he might have had a better chance if he had stuck to the centre ground which he was making a good job of conquering, and then lost.

    Meanwhile, the hard left will be contained by the realpolitik of administration: no Democrat has ever been more left-wing in office than before. And it will lose the Derangement Syndrome motivation that drives it when it no longer has a Republican hate figure.

    Hopefully, an Obama presidency can allow the scar that the idiotic culture wars have caused to start to heal. Earlier in 2008, when people were talking about a McCain-Leiberman ticket and when McCain surged ahead of Huckabee, it seemed like McCain could have been the man to heal this scar, but the McPalin period, and McC’s recent return to a stupid, tub-thumping Reaganite low-tax-strong-defence mantra, have put an end to that likelihood.

  6. Thanks for the comments.

    Daniel: I think the Blue Dogs will keep the Democratic party from being dominated by the left-wing. Many, if not most, of the seats that Democrats are likely to pick up are in places where Blue Dogs have the greatest potential to win. Hard liberals don’t have a chance in those districts.

    Roland: As mentioned above I am less positive of the potential for a strong centrist tendency emerging in the Republican party. The two groups which seem most mobilized are the nativists and social conservatives.

    Modernity: Palin would not be my personal pick but McCain did not need to convince people like me to vote for him. He needed to convince social conservatives. They have disliked McCain for a long time. Picking Palin was a deliberate attempt to rile up these voters and generate some interest in the campaign. I don’t think Palin is as horrible as people on the other side of the Atlantic make her out to be. Again, not my personal pick, but when I think about previous vice presidents like Dan Quayle she does not seem so bad.

    Noga: If McCain’s mother is any indication, the man has some good genes. She’s in her 90s and still going strong.

    Bob: Republican candidates cannot win at the national level without the support of social conservatives. They dominate the Republican party at this point. The centrist/independent vote is important in some races but elections are generally decided by who mobilizes their base(s). Any Republican presidential candidate who fails to rally the social conservatives will lose.

    I’m not sure about Obama having any sort of mellowing impact on the loony left. I remember the Clinton years. The hard left hated Clinton and I suspect they would grow to hate Obama as well, if given the opportunity.

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