Tuesday, November 3, 2009

The long, dark tea-time of the GOP's soul

Fantastic column on NY-23. Explains perfectly the absurdity of the 'moderate-purge' characterization of the race, but also discusses the dangerous potential the race has to push the GOP towards a more hard-line, bare-bones (and ultimately self-destructive) conservatism. Hoffman's success essentially boils down to the fact that social issues are currently off the table. Economic issues will determine winners in this cycle.

15 comments:

Evan said...

I think the core issue here is that the Democrats basically responded to losing by getting less liberal, but the Republicans responded by getting more conservative. How that'll play out for the Republicans remains to be seen, I think; one election in a rural upstate New York district does not make a national shift.

Lachlan said...

You're confusing correlation and causation. Democrats won in 06 and 08 (I'm assuming that's what you mean) because people were so pissed at Bush, and consequently his party. The party became less liberal because they won (because conservative voters were so pissed at Bush they went a bit to the left), they didn't win because they were less liberal. There are always moderate Democrats out there (and moderate Republicans), and conservative voters in 06 and 08 crossed that intangible line between center-left and center-right to elect Democrats because they were fed up with the Republican Party. It had little do to with the swings of the parties' political leanings.

Evan said...

One of the key elements of the 50 State Strategy was to get people who were 'electable' even if they weren't super-liberal Democrats. The Democrats made a conscious effort to run less partisan candidates as part of a strategy to win. Seems to me that the Republicans are consciously doing the opposite.

Lachlan said...

You just said that NY-23 "does not make a national shift." To extrapolate some larger GOP strategy is to ignore all the things that this columnist talked about; that (a) Scozzafava opposed conservatives on EFCA, the stimulus, and taxes, all core elements of the GOP's platform (she was endorsed by DailyKos for God's sake), and (b) New York is third-party friendly, and this race is therefore an anomaly.

Obviously Hoffmann is electable, and Scozzafava, with her numerous ties to leftist organizations and stances contrary to so many conservative beliefs, was not (as we now know).

Evan said...

I agree that you had a weird party dynamic going on here, but what I'm saying is two different things. On the one hand, the result of NY-23 is not some ringing endorsement of Obama or a sign of his impending failure as President. On the other hand, I think this will in fact embolden Republicans to run conservative candidates as their road map to victory in 2010.

Lachlan said...

It will embolden Republicans to avoid running candidates that oppose them on major electoral issues and get endorsements from the far-left. That is true.

Evan said...

I suppose I should have said crazy candidates, as opposed to just 'conservatives.' Do you think running Hoffmans all over the country is good for either Republicans or America?

Lachlan said...

It's irrelevant because nobody is talking about running Hoffmanns all over the country (except liberals, of course). I agree with his positions on issues more than I agree with Scozzafava's. For that reason, yes I think he's better for the country than she would have been. Given that Dede ran on a platform opposed to many of the tenets of the GOP, I think Hoffmann is better for the Republican party than she would have been.

Evan said...

Remember this little gem from RedState?

http://www.redstate.com/erick/2008/11/05/operation-leper/

Erick Erickson wanted to purge all members of the GOP who did not clap loud enough about Sarah Palin.

Planning to run Hoffmans across the country is exactly what the right-wing fringe wants (and is doing!). See: Rubio in FL, Toomey in PA, etc.

As a result of Toomey the Republicans pushed Specter right out of the party.

TJE said...

The NYT fretting about the GOP-- 15 years ago!(WSJ Best of the Web today)

"A string of defections by prominent Republicans who endorsed Democratic candidates, the biggest in decades, has exposed an ideological rupture in the Republican Party and demonstrated how difficult it has become for the major parties to enforce discipline.

While it is not clear how much effect the endorsements will have on this year's state and Federal races, the fissure exposed by the desertions points to trouble ahead for Republicans. . . .

If the campaign events are any indication, even if the Republicans make major gains next Tuesday, the party may have a hard time smoothing over differences between its conservative and moderate wings. . . .

Not since the nomination of Barry Goldwater in 1964 sent many Republicans scurrying to rally around Lyndon B. Johnson have so many prominent party members bitterly turned on the party's candidates. And that was in a Presidential contest. Just as in 1964, they are shifting in one direction: away from conservative Republicans.

"They're frightened about the movement of their party to a more right-wing conservative agenda," said Fred Steeper, a Republican pollster in Detroit.

Although most experts agree that one person's endorsement does not usually sway voters in numbers large enough to turn around an election immediately, candidates can seize on such events to show that things are turning their way. That seems to be happening in the closing days of the campaign, with Democrats using the endorsements as a sign of movement for their candidates."

Lachlan said...

So your gripe is with the primary system. Specter switched parties because he knew he couldn't beat Toomey and all Rubio is doing is challenging an unpopular governor. Just because a DC blogger calls for moderates to be defeated doesn't make the party's national strategy the marginalization of moderates.

Evan said...

I suppose we'll see how it plays out, but my read on it is that if Hoffman wins you'll see lots of far-right candidates cropping up in 2010.

Lachlan said...

"Having a candidate that seems “real” and can really fire up the base is very important. People often vote because they feel elected officials are ignoring them and they want to send a message. Right now, there is a real populist rage out there directed at Washington in general. Most people don’t vote based on a checklist of positions, but vote for candidates they think are honest, even if they don’t agree with them."

- Fire Dog Lake

Evan said...

I'd agree with that to an extent--you can't run empty suits--but someone espousing universal Medicare would face an electoral massacre in probably about 375 of the 435 Congressional districts in the country. That's a liberal position but not some radical far-left one that's beyond the pale. NY-23 was unique in that the Republican actually was to the left of the Democrat on many issues, and you have other issues in play (union popularity, etc.) which make it all...as I said, really weird. But I think the notion of just running hard to the party line with charismatic candidates isn't a winning strategy. You can't escape a sucky candidate, but you also need to have some fit with where you're trying to compete.

Lachlan said...

I agree with that 100 percent.