The Republican Problem

(NOTE: Based on time elapsed since the posting of this entry, the BS-o-meter calculates this is 8.442% likely to be something that Ferrett now regrets.)

As a liberal-leaning-centrist-who-calls-himself-a-Democrat-because-there-are-no-other-workable-choices, I’ve been told gleefully by conservatives how unpopular my opinions are.  “People don’t want a public option for health care!” they’ve cried.  “People don’t like your ideas!  That’s why you lose!”
The problem is, the Republicans have walled themselves off from reality for so long that they appear to be curdling.
Look, FOX News did a lot for Republicans in terms of energizing their base, getting the word out, to the point where the Republicans actually handed us our ass a lot of times when they shouldn’t have.  (Gore handed Bush the election, and I’m still shocked that Bush beat Kerry when his numbers were so low.)  But the problem is that FOX News became an echo chamber, telling people that it’s not just Republicans, but all people think that way… and now, they’re dealing with the repercussions of that chamber.
A lot of people say that Sarah Palin cost McCain the election, and she was a foolish choice.  But she wasn’t.  The problem McCain was attempting to solve was that a lot of Republicans were pissed at him for not being as Hardcore as he should have been, and as such he needed someone ridiculously hard-core and charming to fit the bill.  Bingo!  Palin solved that.  Suddenly, Republicans were lining up to flood the McCain/Palin campaign with cash, and a lot of Republicans were thrilled that there was a real person to represent them.
Problem is, Palin was so inexperienced and simplistic that she won over the die-hards, but alienated the swing voters.  McCain consolidated his base, at the cost of the election.
And I think you’re seeing that now, with Romney.  Why’d he pick Ryan?  Because he needed someone to energize the base!  But the guy who’s good at energizing the base is so hostile to Medicare that it’s losing them Florida.
What you’re seeing now, I think, is this bizarre no-win situation where the Republican candidate has to be die-hard enough to satisfy the Republicans without looking incredibly reactionary to swing voters.  And that can’t be done.  If you appear middle-of-the-road enough that you might get elected, the Republicans won’t vote for you because hey, you’re not following Our Tenets!  You gotta speak fluent looney – because we are the majority, whether anyone believes it or not!
So what’s happening is that the Republicans are shrinking.  I have no doubt that Romney’s supporters will turn out, making this appear to be a close race.  (He may even win – yeah, I said it.)  But I think what will most likely happen is that fumbling old Romney will get a lot of really energized voters, but in the process of getting the base to his side, he’ll have alienated the front.
Yeah, the public option didn’t poll well.  But neither do a lot of Romney’s beliefs, when stated openly.  But he has to state them, as loudly as he can afford to, in order to prevent a division in his base. Which sends more people scurrying away.  Which may be the new Republican tradition, if they’re not careful; a frightened, cautious guy at the center who’s trying desperately to please to masters, along with a bright, happy psycho at his side with opinions that would repel most of America if stated publicly and proudly.
We’ll see how he comes off in the debates.  One suspects better than the liberals would give him credit for, but not enough to swing it.  But there’s still two months, mang.  Anything could happen.

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