Wednesday, February 6, 2008

The GOP Rubble Finally Stops Bouncing

The breakup of the GOP came into sharp focus with the Super-Duper Tuesday results. The three chunks of the old GOP coalition each went their separate ways:

  • The hawks voted for McCain.

  • The economic conservatives and libertarians voted for Romney.

  • The social values/religious right crowd went for Huckabee.

There doesn't appear to be any appetite for compromise in any of these folks. The only remaining question is whether, upon the nomination of one of them (almost certainly McCain), the other two groups will be merely surly or whether they will actively rebel.

The Reagan coalition relied on the ability for the Republican nominee to appeal to Democratic hawks and moderate fiscal conservatives. That in turn required that the social values crowd was content to prioritize foreign and economic policy over their religious agenda. This resulted in a dominant coalition that could be represented like this:

We now have a situation where each GOP group has so self-selected that they no longer acknowledge anything but their top issue. Furthermore, the extreme unpopularity of the war has the moderate hawks identifying with the doves and the moderate economic folks driven into the arms of the protectionists by the arrant supply-side nonsense coming out of both McCain and Romney. In short, things now look like this:

I'm not sure that the Reagan coalition can be rebuilt. And, as a right-of-center moderate, I'm not sure I'd like it to be. I'd much prefer something like this:

Of course, there's a big problem with this. It requires a third party. Short of that, it involves so marginalizing doves and socialists and social conservatives that neither major party finds them worth dealing with. We're a long ways away from that. Still, I can dream...

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