The (Not So) Big Tent

Mitt Romney 2012 - I WILL be the nominee. Stop Fighting it.

Two decades after a Democrat first nuked the world, another Democrat used the threat of Barry Goldwater nuking the world to seal his fate in the election of 1964. At the same time, the Republican party itself was breaking apart. Goldwater’s nomination was at the expense of a pro-government party that existed since it’s foundation in the 1850s. The few states Goldwater won ironically had not gone Republican since Reconstruction.

The pattern has continued for the last few decades. The so-called Rockefeller wing of the party prevailed, giving us such winners as Richard Nixon and Gerald Ford. Ronald Reagan won by creating a super coalition of Goldwater Republicans, Southern Democrats, religious conservatives and liberals who hated Jimmy Carter. His campaign talked about the big tent, people who didn’t agree with everything Reagan did, but supported him on balance.

Big coalitions can’t last very long. George Bush rode in on Reagan’s coattails, but he wasn’t exactly from the most popular part of the big tent. The unexpected campaign of Bill Clinton created a coalition of Southern Democrats and people who hated Bush. Perot took a lot of the conservatives who felt alienated by Bush. Ultimately, it may have been George W. Bush who broke the big tent.

Deficit hawks are pretty lonely when their party is in power. It’s not popular to tell your president and your Congress they have to stop exercising their power to spend money. Bush had five years of a Republican majority to cut spending. Instead, he created a new program. The Tea Party may not have begun then, but it might have been welcome.

Since the Obama administration began, people against the idea of bailouts and increased taxes started to join together. The decimated Republican Party started to echo that sentiment, but many were in the same government that contributed to the problem. Two groups formed. There were the purists who wanted less government (including the military) and the technocrats who liked government because it rewards their constituencies. Early Republican races in 2009 and 2010 were full of Tea Party candidates who lost to Democrats because Republicans refused to vote for them.

The very real possibility in 2012 is that Mitt Romney, who is unapologetically running a general election campaign, will cause some Tea Partiers to stay home. It will be disastrous if it triggers a third-party challenge. What may be unavoidable is that a similar outcome may occur if Romney loses the nomination. The popular narrative is that conservatives upset with McCain’s nomination in 2008 failed to materialize in the general election and let Obama win to teach the party a lesson.

Hold on. Knowing what we know now, does that even make sense? In 2008, Mitt Romney was touted as the real conservative, but mostly by Republican Party dinosaurs. Mike Huckabee was much more of a social conservative. McCain was socially conservative and more fiscally conservative than some Tea Partiers. His crime was compromising with Democrats to get things done. He only made things better when he picked Sarah Palin as his running mate.

On the first few days after the Palin announcement, many Journolisters were frozen in place, not sure what to say about this. Some even had complimentary things to say. However, Peggy Noonan was out there early calling her selection “bullshit” on a hot mike. People who talked up Romney and barely tolerated McCain noticeably drifted to praise of Obama for his style and message. I dare say that conservatives didn’t stay home as much as party regulars straight out voted for Obama to deal a death-blow to the right-wing they felt was killing their country club.

The Romney side has chosen their strategy. Vote for him or vote for Obama. If voters pick another nominee, they will be decimated until Obama wins. If she can’t be decimated, the primaries will be moved up until she can’t file for them. I almost wonder if Sarah Palin hasn’t taken a page from the Murkowskis once more and decided to ask people to write in her name come primary season. That would be the true test of her legitimacy. If she can win the nomination without even running, it would put a wrench in the Republican party machine.

About 1539days

I'm like a word a day calendar for executive disasters.
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12 Responses to The (Not So) Big Tent

  1. foxyladi14 says:

    I would write her name in. 🙂

  2. DandyTiger says:

    It is amazing how screwed up the Republican party is right now, just like the Democratic party. They’ve both fucked themselves up and I don’t have a lick of sympathy for either one. I hope they both drown in their own greed for power.

    If ever there was a year for a third party candidate to win, this is it. But I’m not holding my breath.

    • 1539days says:

      Third Party candidates tend to show up every decade or so. Most of them are disgruntled party insiders. The only third party candidate to win was Abraham Lincoln, after the Republicans ditched him in 1864 then gave up and voted for him anyway.

      The only person who could go third party from the Republicans is Sarah Palin, and she really wants to take back the Republican Party from the Romney crowd instead of doom her party to defeat. Democrats are going to stick with Obama because people still blame Nader for 2000, even though he had no statistical effect on the outcome.

    • catarina says:

      The Herminator is almost a 3rd party candidate. Eat this, Bill Kristol!

  3. yttik says:

    I love the idea of Palin doing something unconventional and snatching the nomination right out from under the cocktail party Republicans. I’m doubtful that’s the plan, but I love the idea.

    Our primary system is really rigged. The people don’t chose the candidate, the two parties do, as we just saw when Hillary actually won the popular vote but had delegates taken away and the nomination handed to Obama.

    In my state I can’t even write in a primary candidate, we’ve completely canceled our primary. So the only way to try and get somebody nominated is to caucus for them. The problem is, you can’t caucus for somebody who isn’t a declared and approved party candidate.

    • 1539days says:

      I think primaries were intended to create popular support for a party by letting the members choose a candidate. They are by and large non-governmental events. States end up spending money on primaries that have nothing to do with electing someone to office, but picking which party member a party officially endorses. The primary calendar was set up to let certain states shine and then give bigger states the real decision a few weeks later. The Democrats relied on more complicated apportionment and a series of superdelegates to make sure 1968 didn’t happen again. Then Obama used it to take the votes he needed.

      I support a runoff system. Instead of a primary, any candidate who wants to run in any party who pays the filing fee and gets enough signatures can get on the ballot. The two people who get the most votes run head to head on election day. It would dismantle the party structure because the parties would then be forced to (not) endorse a candidate after the fact, especially if their recommended choice loses. It would also give everyone a choice.

  4. votermom says:

    I almost wonder if Sarah Palin hasn’t taken a page from the Murkowskis once more and decided to ask people to write in her name come primary season.
    From your lips to the ears of the angels.

    Great post!

  5. votermom says:

  6. HELENK says:

    here is something to keep our eyes on during the next election

  7. glennmcgahee says:

    I’m sorry but to even think that votes were counted in Florida in 2000 is ridiculous. That was the year of Katherine Harris. Many of us voted but we voted on the new and improved unverifiable “machines”. The tallys were done behind closed doors in a backroom somewhere.

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