Legions Divided: Viva La rEVOLution!

DrGail wrote an excellent post that I think succinctly and aptly describes exactly what we are seeing in the Republican party right now. That trifecta coalition between the money, the might, and the faith that was the bedrock of the modern Republican party and conservative movement is imploding as we speak.

We all know what happened. When push came to shove, of the three legs of the stool that the Republicans had to choose from, they went with the neocon. Of course, theirs was a plighted choice to begin with; few people even at the onset believed that the Republican party had a rich field to choose from.

What was truly interesting this time out, though, was the fact that unlike in the past, there was no one candidate that embodied the compact between the three factions of modern movement conservatism. In fact, the three men that would ultimately come to represent each faction within ended up being not merely neutral to the other portions of the party, but outright offenses.

Huckabee may have been the champion of the Religious Right, but, to put a fine point on it, the fiscal faction of the party saw him as too stupid, and last ditch efforts at pandering towards the neoconservative branch of the coalition were too little and too late and never good enough to meet John McCain’s “war hero” status, or Giuliani’s obsession with terrorists in the mist.

Romney may have been the golden boy of the fiscal right, but he too lacked neoconservative credibility, and his faith was a complete offense to those of the Religious Right.

And the “Maverick” John McCain had managed to piss off just about everybody outside the chickenhawks in his quest to portray himself as an outsider. Straight talk may get some liberals to think he’s an okay guy, but it shouldn’t be forgotten that he probably made few friends in the fiscal elite when he initially claimed Bush’s tax cuts were irresponsible, and the Religious Right I don’t think ever forgave him for turning his back on high powered religious leaders.

Thus, while much of the talk of the political chattering class has focused on how divided the Democratic party is, what has been lost is the fact that the Republican party is nearly as divided, and according to voter turnout in the primaries, even before McCain locked himself in as the presumptive nominee, quite de-energized.

This setting the stage for what could prove to be an embarrassment for John McCain and the Republican party this fall.

Funnily enough, Republicans chose the neocon, the man who is best framed by his support for the Iraq War. Now, it’s bad enough that a majority of Americans oppose our continued presence in Iraq, but the worst bit of data that McCain faces is the fact that a full third of Republicans also oppose the venture.

While it’s questionable whether Iraq or the Economy will be the biggest issue come this fall, it should not be ignored that on one of the major issues of the season, John McCain has the backing of only two thirds of his party, and far less of that with his base.

What does this mean? Well, if we were looking at a two person race, Obama would be looking to reap the benefits of moderate Republican voters opposed to the war, while those dyed in the wool Republican voters who also opposed the war could very well stay home.

But a Republican nominee that is suffering from a party that does not like him, a coalition that is tearing itself apart at the seams, and promotes a stance on a majo issue that is the opposite of the will of the American people and doesn’t even unify his own party opens himself up to something far worse.


Of the three factions that have driven the Republican party’s rise to prominence and power, there is another part of the party that has long gone under represented; traditional conservatives, or paleoconservatives. These are the folks who want to keep government as small as humanly possible, which is at odds with all of the legs in the conservative stool.

These folks can’t stand the neoconservative approach to foreign policy, prefering instead to see the American military be used for national defense in its most strict definition. Theocons, meanwhile, represent the kind of government meddling in one’s personal life that is antithetical to a concept of small government, while the fiscal conservatives may appear to advocate corporatocracy beyond the free market ideals of a paleoconservatism.

In such a way, it would appear that Ron Paul’s mini surge to prominence proved something of a renaissance for a batch of conservatives that have looked on with dismay at what has become of their party. Though not large enough to make Ron Paul anything resembling a threat during the Republican primary, his followers exhibited a zealotry and organizing capability that often created an illusion of strength that did not necessarily exist.

And one thing I realized was that they had no quit in them.

This I learned when I attended a Barack Obama rally back in February. Ron Paul had just recently suspended his campaign, but there they were, a stalwart band of rEVOLutionaries standing at the doors and making their case for their candidate. And the movement plans on taking its act out on the road.

More specifically, to Minnesota and the Republican National Convention.

The goal is to stage a coup, one in which the message of the Republican party at its national convention is broken and splintered, and a small band of rebels gains prominence for them, and the man they felt was best suited to be the nominee.

Nor does John McCain’s problems end at Ron Paul and his enthusiastic supporters. Also opting into the race is former congressman Bob Barr who is representing the Libertarian party. Indeed, he appeals to the same vulnerable audience that Ron Paul appeals to, both men being small “l” libertarians.

For Barr, his true appeal may come from approaching those voters that may be put off by the sometimes disconcerting zealotry of Paul’s supporters.

And yes, there are openings. Point of fact, in many of the primaries that have taken place since McCain has sealed up the party’s nomination it’s worth noting that McCain has often failed to even reach 80% of an already depressed vote. This, further indicates that McCain may be running with a third of his party’s support taking issue with backing his presidential bid.

Yes, the Democratic party is divided, but to think that the Republican party isn’t itself showing cracks that are propogating is turning a blind eye to the facts on the ground.

And yet that is not even the end of McCain’s woes.

For as much as people have ragged on Obama’s inability to win over the white vote, there is something very striking in the votes that we have seen lately.

In Pennsylvania, more voters voted for Obama than all who voted in the Republican primary; in fact, Obama doubled McCain’s haul. In Ohio, Obama came a little short of the total vote in the Republican primary, but he still managed to beat McCain by 300,000 votes. In Indiana he nearly doubled the total vote, and in Texas where Huckabee was very competitive, Obama doubled McCain’s haul, and broke even with the Republican haul completely.

What does this mean? I fully recognize that I’m one of the voices that has repeatedly said that primary voting is not generally relevant to how the general election will go, but it is important to note that even in states that he lost, Obama won more votes than the Republican nominee by a wide margin. Such a wide margin, in fact, that if we were to apply the worst case scenario numbers of Clinton defections to the total votes in both Republican and Democratic contests, Obama would still come out the winner in the general election.

Long story short; for all the doom and gloom that has plagued the Democratic primary, the high profile of the Obama and Clinton rivalry has long hidden the fact that McCain has some very serious issues to overcome if he wants to even be competitive in the fall.

More at Memeorandum: The Moderate Voice, Wonkette, Patterico’s Pontifications, Hot Air, The Other McCain, Wake up America, Political Machine, SCSUScholars, Liberal Values, Balloon Juice, Philly.com, Blogs of War, The Opinionator, Donklephant, JammieWearingFool, Connecting.the.Dots, PoliBlog (TM), Agence France Presse, rubber hose, Outside The Beltway, About.com US Politics and LewRockwell.com Blog. Oliver Willis, Prairie Weather, Reason Magazine and American Street

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Connect with Facebook