Saturday 31 October 2009

Wingnuts: first take New York, then the nation!

The GOP thinks it can control the extremists, but German conservatives thought the same about controlling Hitler, and the Hoffman race in New York shows that the party cannot, in fact, control the wingnuts. Republican party leaders scrambled to switch their support to Hoffman and claim him for their own – ideology and pragmatism ironically worked together to overcome considerations of partisan loyalty. But that won’t be enough: the wingnuts are not just outpacing the moderates – they are deliberately targeting the “apostates” for extinction. Conservatives insist they’re trying to take back control of the GOP – as though the party wasn’t too far to the right already. So more RINO’s have bulls-eyes on their backs.

Supporters of the Hoffman’s moderate Republican rival support Obama 64-31, which suggests that Hoffman could lose. If Hoffman wins, he says he will caucus with the GOP, but simply having him enter Congress after slaughtering the chosen GOP nominee will cause shivers among the party faithful.

How will the wingnuts react nationally?

First we will take the Sudetenland! And then…the woooooorld!

Already the polls show that a generic congressional ballot, a Democrat-GOP tossup a month ago, now shows an 8-point gap in favour of Democratic candidates. Wingnuts are saying that the Hoffman race shows that they can beat moderate Republicans even in the northeast, and then try to take on the Democrats themselves, which must send shivers down the spines of the few remaining northern moderates like Snowe and Collins. These endangered centrists are afraid to run, or afraid of flank attacks during their races and even after they’ve won: the they now know they face potential primary challenges AND general election challenges from the right. Two other Republicans are facing challenges from the Conservative Party for House seats; wingnut Rubio is slowly catching up to moderate Crist in the Florida Senate race, and Kelly Ayotte has barely avoided a rightwing challenge in NH. So the moderates will tack to the right to defend themselves – but will it be enough to impede the challenges from the right? And does that in turn make them vulnerable on the left -- will that drive centrists into the arms of the Democrats?

What happens when a Conservative Party candidate takes the next step, winning a Senate or gubernatorial seat? Or something even bigger? This explosion could blow in a number of directions: big-name Republicans like Pawlenty could switch from the GOP to the new party, while nervous moderates like Snowe and Collins could defect to the Democratic party, decimating the GOP from both directions.

And that takes us to 2012. Could Palin, Huckabee, Gingrich or even Pawlenty decide to go for the Conservative Party’s presidential nomination if they don’t get the GOP nomination? Could we have two races, one for the GOP nomination and another for the third party, with some candidates potentially running in both? Polls show that half of America’s Republicans think Palin is unfit for the presidency, and those who supported Palin for 2012 are now switching their allegiance to the new polling leader, Huckabee (Pawlenty is getting no traction at all despite repeated efforts to suck up to the wingnuts). So Palin might be tempted to, what’s the phrase? Go rogue. Beck, lucid for once, first slammed Gingrich for supporting Hoffman’s third-party effort, but now he is warming up to the wingnut-party idea, and he thinks Palin will run on a third-party ticket.

The thing is, setting up a new party in time to run for the White House in 2012 is a huge undertaking, as Ross Perot found out in 1992. So watch for the preliminary maneuvers to play out next year.

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