Nov 10 2006
I noted in this earlier post that the drive for purity ion the Republican party was what allowed the Democrats to go into rural America, run as conservatives and attract the center vote. The hyper partisanship has been a complaint for a year – since Katrina – and people are fed up with it. And so the democrats snuck to the center on the ground, while the national leaders went toe-to-toe in their usual fashion
The funny thing is, I don’t think the Democrats planned all this. I think they had it foisted on them by the fact centrist democrats got elected in the primaries (with the exception of Joe Lieberman). You cannot plan this. What the Democrat leaders did do was, for once, not fight the movement. Bob Casey is the example here. He was shunned during the Democrat’s purity purges, but now he is the Senator from PA.
My guess is Bush was pressured by the far right political leaders to push partisanship, to give the red meat to the base. It was out of context for him. But political strategies are consensus efforts. Do not for once think Bush or Congress or the RNC just run off doing their own things. They all decided to play to the far right -and in doing so they lost. The ones who held on, like Shays in CT and Wilson in NM, had sufficient moderate credentials to weather the storm.
In fact, I think the Dems would have done a lot better had Kerry not opened his mouth and had the created scandals not energized a lot of conservatives. The polls did measure an uptick in the conservative side of the equation, so it could have been a lot worse.
Hyper partisanship is dead. Purity efforts shrink the tent to the few who all agree completely. The centrists own elections and they elected centrists or new faces. Because the Reps had power they handed the mantle back to the dems to see if they learned anything from 14 years in the wilderness. We shall have to see on that matter. But clearly the days of calling people RINO’s or declaring what ‘true conservatism’ is are over. That cocky, condescending approach to politics where people try and belittle someone into compliance is over. The only question is, will the Reps let go of it or will centrist conservatives have to keep pushing the dems away from from the hyper partisans. One side is going to be willing to join forces. We know where the natural home of a centrist conservative is. The question is are they welcomed and respected in that home.