Monday, July 16, 2007

If The GOP's Base Wins, The GOP Loses In '08

By Cernig

Dr. Steven Taylor, Associate Professor of Political Science at Troy U. in Alabama, explains today the dilemma many moderate conservatives are finding themselves in as they contemplate the '08 race. Dr. Taylor writes that there is, among moderates:
a great deal of disgust with the current administration coupled with a concern that the front-runners in the Republican field have not indicated any substantial deviation from the problems of the current occupant of the White House (whether it be in regards to Iraq or fighting terrorism in general or issues such as civil liberties, torture and especially executive power). If one is especially upset with the current administration and with the current field of GOP candidates, then one has a choice to make in 2008: vote Republican no matter what (even if it means continuism of policies one greatly dislikes), defect to the Democrats, go third party , or abstain.
Dr. Taylor notes Andrew Sullivan's recent speculative preferring of Obama and continues:
In general is appears to me that Sullivan is doing what I suspect a certain subset of Republican/conservative-oriented voters are doing (or even did in 2004 when they voted for Kerry) and that is contemplating the options within the politics of the real, not the politics of the wished-for. To wit: when it boils right down to it, in 2008 the voters will end up with two candidates who will have a real chance of winning the White House, the GOP nominee and the Democratic nominee. Now, that doesn’t explain Obama, per se. In that regards I am guessing that Sullivan finds Hillary Clinton to be an utterly unpalatable option. So, if from his perspective the GOP offers no viable options and Hillary is off the table, the only real option left is Obama, if one wants to support a candidate who actually has a chance to win the office.

...I know that for myself I am seriously considering voting third party, as I cannot support the platform of the Democratic Party, but also find myself having serious problems with the GOP front-runners on issues such as Iraq, treatment of detainees and, most especially, civil rights and executive authority. Further, I am to the point that I am so thoroughly disenchanted with Bush’s appointees to bureaucratic positions that I am not sure I could endorse a candidate who would almost certainly bring some of those individuals back into government.

And, I will note, this is an approach to party politics that I used to eschew, as I am quite aware that third party voting tends to simply help one’s least favored option win office. However, I am beginning to think that given the current failure of the GOP (not just the Bush administration, but the Republican’s stint at controlling Congress) that the time has come to send signals in regards to that discontent. Ultimately, it is a collective-action problem and unless many, many other like-minded voters do the same thing, the action would end up being primarily a personal one.
I don't think Dr. Taylor is going to find himself lonely by 2008. All of the GOP's frontrunners, especially the one that hasn't declared yet, are working hard to distance themselves from previous actions that would incur objections from the far-right base. The very nature of the media exposure all candidates now receive means the eventual winner of the GOP nomination isn't going to tack back towards the center once the primaries are over and the main event begins without his flip-flopping being shouted out loudly. The Republican candidates are therefore painting themselves into a collective corner where to win the nomination they must espouse Bush-like policies that the vast majority of voters will no longer continue to vote for. So winning the nomination thusly means losing the main event.

By contrast, Dem frontrunning candidates have all incurred the displeasure of their radical base - who will overwhelmingly vote for one of them in the primaries anyway - but conversely stand more of a chance of meeting moderate conservatives coming in the other direction. As a non-Dem foreign observer, I applaud the tactic's success (brought to its pinnacle to-date in Tony Blair's first campaign as UK Labour leader) even while as a "lefty" who shares much of the viewpoint of the Dem's radical base it disappoints me that their candidates aren't more in tune with that base on e.g. Iran. I just don't see it any other way than a Democratic landslide, on this basis - but would warn the Democratic base to beware of Blairs in Dem clothing. We all know how that turned out.

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