November 7, 2012


I get the impression, from reader notes you’ve published and from other sources, that the Republican party is going to be doing some re-evaluating after the Romney loss. As it should. But I worry about a couple of ways that this might play out. Every time an organized group takes a defeat like this, there are two factions that spring up – one that says “We Clearly Have to Change Something Fundamental”, and the other saying “We’re On the Right Track; We Just Didn’t Do It Hard Enough”. I think we’re already seeing this split in action.

And it doesn’t have to break up the party; this sort of thing goes on all the time without creating permanent factions. But it could. I’ve been concerned for some time about the direction the Republicans have been trending. Is it controversial to say that this season’s crop of primary candidates was a deeply unimpressive bunch? The likes of Michele Bachmann and Rick Santorum are totally unappealing to me – I suppose my problem is that I’ve never been much of a social conservative. I believe in personal responsibility, fiscal prudence, a strong defense, and economic growth. I think America is a great country. But I’m not religious, and my political beliefs don’t rest on a religious foundation. Gay marriage (to pick one example) doesn’t bother me much. I did, though, find the various bizarre comments about rape from Republican candidates to be stupid and offensive, and it wouldn’t surprise me if they helped to cost enough potential Republican votes to sway the election.

So where does someone like me turn? I find a lot to dislike in Obama’s policies, on both the practical and philosophical level, and I can’t picture myself voting for him. But I can’t picture myself voting for someone like Rick Santorum, either, or a Sarah Palin, or a Mike Huckabee, just to pick some well-known types. I’m sure that there are people out there who think that if we could just get some more candidates like these, that enough people would flock to their banner. I don’t see it happening; too many voters find something “off” about them. The streak of anti-intellectualism in the Republican party is in danger of making it a caricature of itself, and such a party would leave a lot of potential voters shaking their heads in the polling booth. I’d be one of them.

Feel free to quote as much or as little of this as you wish; I don’t mind having my name attached, either.

Well, I think Sarah Palin gets a bum rap — she was pretty libertarian, and gay-friendly for that matter, as governor — but I agree both that the crop of candidates wasn’t that impressive, and that the social-conservative stuff turns a lot of people off, especially because they’ve been conditioned to think of social-cons as the preacher from Footloose. I think that’s a bit unfair; I used to have the same icky reaction to social-cons, but since then I’ve gotten to, you know, actually know some and now I don’t find them so scary even though I disagree with them on lots of stuff. But that sort of one-on-one interaction doesn’t scale well.

I think that a more libertarian message sells better — and nobody thinks libertarians are like the preacher from Footloose — but, then, I’m a libertarian.

UPDATE: Related: Operation Deep Blue. Plus, some thoughts from Bill Quick.

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