Tuesday, October 27, 2009

A new party?

I guess beginning with Barry Goldwater and speeding up with Saint Ronnie, the cultural ideologues in the Republican party ascended to commanding heights. It took 40+ years, but eventually they gained enough power and visibility that a backlash began. I'd say they peaked under George Bush, and the backlash began to show up in the 2006 congressional elections.

The cultural conservatives now dominate the Republican party. The most visible of this group are the media types, Beck, Limbaugh, Hannity, and their ilk. They have plenty of elected senators and representative who share the same values but who just aren't as visible.

Unfortunately for the Republican party, the ideological attacks are great for ratings, thus ensuring that they will continue. This will also keep the cultural conservatives stirred up and active. Moderate republicans seem to have no place in the party. Anytime they vary from cultural conservative orthodoxy, they get hammered by the wingnut media. Lately, Newt Gingrich, of all people, has been accused of being a RINO.

So now we have the election in NY Dist 23, where moderate GOP nominee Dede Scozzafava is running against Conservative Party nominee Doug Hoffman. Although Democrats don't win in this district, it's possible that this split could throw the election to Democrat Bill Owens.

To me, this is the interesting part.
national conservative figures like Sarah Palin and Fred Thompson (and Glenn Beck and Rush Limbaugh) have bucked the establishment and thrown their support behind the soft-spoken Conservative Party alternative, Doug Hoffman.

It’s also entirely possible the Democrat, lawyer Bill Owens, could eke out a victory amid the Republican infighting. He would be the first Democrat to win that district in 140 years.
I understand that Gov. Tim Pawlenty has also weighed in for Hoffman. To me this looks like the genesis of a new political party. Tea partyers, Palinites, Dittoheads, the whole crowd now has a new party.

The delicious irony is that Republicans spent the last 50 years making "liberal" an epithet and "conservative" the highest badge of honor. It has been branded as the ultimate description of the values that have been espoused by the Republican Party for all these years. So now, the "Conservative" party, helped along by the wingnut right, is poised to capture that brand and all the votes that go with it.

Nationally only 20% of voters identify with the Republican Party. If the Conservative Party catches on, it could take over this 20% pretty easily, as this 20%is the most hard core of the conservative right. The moderate Republicans who now call themselves Independents might migrate back to the Republican party, I suppose, but they'll have lost the south and older white voters. Which will ensure a Democratic majority for a long time.


rbs said...


As an FYI, there are several more political parties in New York state than the rest of the country seems to enjoy. In addition to the Conservative party, there are also the Liberal party and the Working Families party. The Greens, Libertarians, Socialist Workers (!), Right to Life and a few more are around too.

Part of the gimmick of these extra parties is for major party candidates to try to get a cross-endorsement from one of the minor parties and thereby get their name listed on the ballot in more than one column. I certainly recall Hillary Clinton being on the WF line back when she was running for Senate. The flip of this is that it helps the reputation/power of the minor party if such a candidate draws a fair number of votes on the minor party's line.

The status of the Conservative party I'm not aware of at the moment, but I know the Working Families party has been able to exert some sway in NYC elections because they apparently have been able to a decent number provide volunteers to promote progressive candidates.

The Liberal party, on the other hand, I regard as a joke, as they named Giuliani as their NYC mayoral candidate in 1997. The head of the Libs a couple years ago (maybe still is) was a former NYC parks commissioner who was something of a goofball.


Alan said...

Interesting. Especially about getting listed twice on the ballot. Can't do that in Idaho. Thanks.

rbs said...

Re: the multiple lines on the ballot, it will be interesting to see what happens when New York completes switching over to some form of electronic voting system. In the primaries last month, we were still using the old giant mechanical devices in my NYC precinct.