Middle of Nowhere Productions

Middle of Nowhere Productions

Lexington. Republicans, riven but....


Republicans, riven but resurgent . 05 11 09


It is customary for losers to quarrel after the defeat, and the Republican Party in the USA is no exception to the rule. This Lexington column sheds some light on the current dissentions among American Republicans and what benefits the democrats could reap from them, but its scope is wider indeed, since it places yardsticks for the 2012 presidential election and poses fundamental questions about electoral strategies when opposed to doctrinal positions. More than that, it raises the issue of the nature of politics today, torn between pragmatism and ideology and submitted to the whims of swing voters. As it is often the case in the Lexington column, the tone is deliberately shifting from one side to another, borrowing striking quotations from the protagonists themselves, with no other purpose than trying to give a fair account of the situation and of its possible outcomes, while bitterly criticising both parties. It is yet possible to note a harsher treatment aimed at the most conservative elements of the Republican Party, dubbed bare-knuckle candidates, quite a pejorative term indeed.


The starting point of the article is the latest election in New York’s 23rd district, traditionally a red one, but won that time by the Democrats because of major ideological dissentions among the Republicans. Those dissentions are ironically described by the columnist, the aftermath of the elections presented as ashes, the Republican party as doomed, and its National stars, Sarah Palin and Tim Pawlenty, as crazed Captains Ahab, sticking their harpoons in a Moby-Dick-like political white whale. Yet the question is posed as early as in the first sentence: nobody knows if those dissentions will not prevent the Republican Party to (and the term is potent) storm back towards national power.

The Republican Party’s growing trend is doctrinal purity, as stated by Vice-President Joe Biden, and the press, on both sides, confirms that, preaching hard-core conservatism and announcing the next disappearance of RINOs on the red side and stigmatising a new form of Stalinist purges on the blue side.

But the facts show indeed that Republicans are not confined to doctrinal purity; they can also choose middle-of-the-road candidates and beat the Democrats on their own turf by advocating social issues. It happened recently in New jersey and Virginia, both states now having a Republican Governor. What matters here is that swing voters are more interested in concrete achievements than in ideological theories, and will vote according to their interests, notwithstanding the fact that, for example, the candidate is a primitive male chauvinist.

The Democrats have already, and successfully, trod the road of pragmatism in electoral strategy, by placing “DINOs” in conservative districts, but it seems to be more difficult for Republicans, who are more radical by nature, as the term red-meat suggests. Although the party establishment is favourable to electoral strategy, the conservative wing will press hard to impose what the columnist calls fire-breathers, that hit all their sweet spots, the hard ones, actually.

But that could be the tree that hides the forest, since what is at stake here is once again the system: although the USA is ruled by bipartism, just like Great Britain, there are no conventions to regulate leadership in opposition, unlike in the British system. The columnist uses extremely pejorative terms to describe that lack of rules and the struggle for power that derives from it (congressional honchos, gaggle of big names jockeying, cacophony of shock-jocks howling, vast mess of local activists,) but actually takes the system into account.


The second part of the article is a bleak account of the situation. It deals first with the absence of clear rules in the choice of candidates among the Republican Party; In Lexington’s point of view, only primaries can select the best candidates, paradoxically sometimes because the best is not necessarily the most lovable, but the most likely to win. But primaries are not a rule; their existence depends on local conventions.

A negative, republican-based analysis of Mr Obama’s presidency follows, using the same terms as those used by his fiercest opponents and criticising its most social- and state-based features, essentially the Health-Care reform and the raise of public spending. That could of course be of great help to the Republican Party.

A third approach, that of a third party, made possible by the Republican’s loss of contact with their grass-roots supporters, also seems doomed to fail, as it was the case for Ross Perot’s Reform Party in 1992. Consequently, and in spite of all the messy state in which the Republicans find themselves now, they could benefit from a possible backlash against the President in office.





Bipartism in both GB and the USA: Similarities and differences.

Politics: Ideology vs Realism, or Pragmatism.

Politics: The blurring of borders. RINOs and DINOs.

The growing problem of swing voters, dwindling traditional votes, “fixed” constituencies.


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