The GOP and its base

William Rivers Pitt writes (in TRUTHOUT): ”  George W. Bush left office with a public approval rating under 30 percent. Less than 30 percent of Americans currently describe themselves as Republicans. The AMALGAM of evangelical Christians, hardcore gun-rights fanatics, anti-tax, anti-immigrant and anti-choice voters who make up the base of the Republican Party amount to less than 30 percent of the overall electorate.  These numbers reflect the PRESENT state of affairs for the GOP: they are a party CONTROLLED by their base, the same group of Americans whose SUPPORT for Bush never wavered, and who still call themselves Republican despite the SERIAL DEBACLES  of the last decade. These are the voters who LISTEN to Limbaugh, Savage, Hannity and Beck, who watch Fox News to the exclusion of every other network, who think evolution is a FRAUD because dinosaurs are not mentioned in the Bible, and who believe President Obama is a SECRET Islamic terrorist communist Jew with a bum birth certificate.

These voters have spent the last 30 years being the single most reliable voting bloc in the entire electorate, and this has come to present a potentially lethal PROBLEM for the Republican Party in general, and for their future electoral prospects specifically. For a long time, the loyalty of their voter base propelled the GOP into a position of complete dominance – if live, man-eating jaguars rained from the sky on election day, the GOP base would still turn out en masse to pull the handle for every candidate on the ballot with an “R” after their name, a fact that made the difference in a half-dozen midterms and at least two presidential elections.

    That loyalty made the GOP base the most muscular part of the party, but it is that very strength which is now TEARING the party to pieces. Consider the lesson that was provided during the 2008 Republican Party primary season. Arkansas Governor Mike Huckabee became the darling of the GOP base, earning roughly 50 percent of the GOP base vote in virtually every Red-state primary. The other, more broadly popular GOP candidates like Rudy Giuliani and Mitt Romney, needed those votes to prevail, but were forced to fight for the base-voter scraps left by Huckabee. This lack of base-voter support was what ultimately doomed their campaigns…

Huckabee stayed in the race just long enough to CRIPPLE Giuliani and Romney before fading away himself, and in the end, John McCain wound up winning the nomination pretty much by DEFAULT.

    The PROBLEM for McCain in the 2008 general election is the SAME one currently affecting the Republican Party at large: he could not win without the support of the GOP base, but the core beliefs of that base were so OUT OF TOUCH with mainstream America that McCain likewise could NOT win if he catered to them. He was forced to flee his previous positions on immigration, climate change, taxes and campaign finance reform to satisfy base voters who already roundly despised him because of his positions on immigration, climate change, taxes and campaign finance reform, and this ultimately deranged his whole campaign. Picking Alaska Governor Sarah Palin to be his running mate was yet another sop to base voters, and is now widely believed to have been the last NAIL in his electoral coffin…a whole lot of Faustian chickens are coming home toROOST in the GOP’s crumbling coop. The party courted those base voters, championed them, pandered to them and ultimately empowered them. Now, that power is SUBSUMING the party, and for the time being, there is no end in sight. ” 



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