Justin du Coeur (jducoeur) wrote,
Justin du Coeur
jducoeur

The tent is well past "frayed" now

I have to say, I'm downright surprised that I've seen so little commentary about what looks to me to be the most important ramification of the current primaries: the rending of the Republican "big tent". Yes, there have always been major wings of the party in tension with each other, and yes, those tensions have always been most evident during the primaries. But they're just plain more vivid this time.

Specifically, each of the major candidates is essentially playing to a specific aspect of the party. Huckabee laid claim to the evangelical side (almost by default, since everyone else was too scared to be quite so overtly theocratic). McCain is claiming the neo-cons. Ron Paul's preposterously high showing indicates how disgusted the libertarian wing is with the rest, and how desperate they are for a symbol to root for. Giuliani seems to be going after the culture-of-fear fascist side, and Romney, while trying to seduce *everybody* rather clumsily, is mostly looking like the big business candidate.

I'll be very curious to see how this plays out in the real campaign. Of course everyone will kiss and make up after the primaries (well, unless the candidate is Romney, who seems to inspire loathing in everybody else), but the fissures are *so* transparent this time that I have to expect it's going to be harder than usual. Which doesn't mean vast numbers of Republicans are going to suddenly cross the aisle and vote Democrat -- but I do expect an awful lot of them to sit on their hands.

It's quite an interesting turn, to see the Democrats looking like the party of unity for a change. Yes, they've got a bunch of candidates, and yes, they're fighting hard. But the number of Democratic voters who are adequately content to see any of their candidates win looks high this time -- and that doesn't appear nearly as true for the Republicans. Quite the reverse of the pattern I'd gotten used to...
Tags: politics
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