Monday, November 10, 2008

The Great GOP Civil War

There is a civil war going on within the Republican party. This fight for the heart and soul of the party is being waged between two broad factions which could be termed the Conservatives and the Moderates. Another pair of names which would apply are the Reagan Republicans and the McCain "Republicans".

The war between these two factions for control of the GOP began in earnest with the rise of Barry Goldwater and the Conservatives achieved their greatest victory in the election of Ronald Reagan. Since the time of Reagan the Republican party has run one presidential candidate after another who has pretended to belong to the Reagan wing of the party but in fact has been more closely aligned with the Moderates.

In 2008 the Republican party choose a candidate who called himself conservative but who had in fact been at open war with conservatives for years. The Moderates seized upon McCain as their last best hope to either drive conservatives out of the Republican party or at least marginalize them to the point where they could be totally ignored. The Moderates hoped that they would be able to hold up a McCain victory as proof that "Reagan was dead" and that the truism that "when Republicans run a conservative in national elections they win" was no longer true, if it ever had been.

The problem was that back even before Senator McCain had the Republican nomination locked up his campaign had internal polling which showed that McCain's hold on the conservative base would not be strong enough to bring them out in numbers large enough to have any hope of winning the election (this was before the full extent of Obama's radicalism was known). This caused the campaign to bypass the people that McCain would normally have wanted as his running mate (Joe Lieberman, Tim Pawlenty) or that political expediency might have otherwise forced him to pick (Mitt Romney) and instead choose a died-in-the-wool Reagan conservative.

This led the McCain campaign to Sarah Palin who had the added appeal (to McCain) of being a reformer who had taken on the Republican party in her own state (in McCain's mind true glory can only be achieved by people who oppose Republicans).

The problem for McCain and his "insiders" was they they simply had no real idea of what a bad taste McCain's nomination had left in the mouths of the party faithful. When Sarah Palin's name was announced as the VP pick the wave of pure joy which swept through the Republican party must have been a very unwelcome wakeup call for the McCain campaign and the Moderate/McCain wing of the Republican party.

The contrast between Sarah Palin's night at the Republican convention and McCain's night tells you everything you need to know. Palin electrified the room, filling the hall with an energy which haddn't been seen since Ronald Reagan departed the political stage 20 years ago. In contrast McCain's night could have been titled The March of the RINOs as McCain and his soul-mate Lindsey Graham put the room to sleep.

The undeniable fact is that the one and only time McCain took the lead and seemed likely to win the election was right after Sarah Palin was named as his running mate.

Now that the election is over and McCain's loss has proved the truism that "when you give the people a choice between a democrat and a Democrat they will pick the Democrat" the Moderates are desperate to create a narrative of the campaign which places the blame for the defeat on anything other than the fact that McCain was a RINO. It is acceptable to believe that McCain lost because he was too old or because he wasn't bright, cheerful and optimistic enough but you must not, under any circumstances, think that McCain lost because of all those years on the Sunday shows trashing his fellow Republicans or all those pieces of "signature" legislation that he had his name stuck on with left-wing partners like Ted Kennedy and Russ Feingold.

But the Moderates have another option before them as well. Rather than just blaming the fact that McCain was an old fart running against a young telegenic man who could read a speech better than anyone else in the history of the world (as long as someone else wrote it for him) they can kill two birds with one stone and blame Sarah Palin, the Reagan conservative.

This is the reason why the McCain campaign "insiders" are leaking bizarre lies about Governor Palin's behavior during the campaign. Not only do they hope to absolve themselves of any blame for McCains loss they hope to destroy Mrs. Palin's future political viability.

Why is this so important to them? Read this report from Rasmussen:

Sixty-nine percent (69%) of Republican voters say Alaska Governor Sarah Palin helped John McCain’s bid for the presidency, even as news reports surface that some McCain staffers think she was a liability.

Only 20% of GOP voters say Palin hurt the party’s ticket, according to a new Rasmussen Reports national telephone survey. Six percent (6%) say she had no impact, and five percent (5%) are undecided.

Ninety-one percent (91%) of Republicans have a favorable view of Palin, including 65% who say their view is Very Favorable. Only eight percent (8%) have an unfavorable view of her, including three percent (3%) Very Unfavorable.

When asked to choose among some of the GOP’s top names for their choice for the party’s 2012 presidential nominee, 64% say Palin. The next closest contenders are two former governors and unsuccessful challengers for the presidential nomination this year -- Mike Huckabee of Arkansas with 12% support and Mitt Romney of Massachusetts with 11%.

Three other sitting governors – Bobby Jindal of Louisiana, Charlie Crist of Florida and Tim Pawlenty of Minnesota – all pull low single-digit support.

These findings echo a survey earlier this week which found that Republicans were happier with their vice presidential candidate than with their presidential nominee. Seventy-one percent (71%) said McCain made the right choice by picking Palin as his running mate, while only 65% said the party picked the right nominee for president.

Right now Sarah Palin is the most popular living politican in the Republican party and the front runner for the 2012 nomination. And she's a Reagan Conservative.

You see the problem for the Moderates? How can "Reagan be dead" if the most beloved Republican in the nation is the one being hailed as "the new Reagan"?

The moderates know that if they are to have any hope of picking the next Republican nominee they must destroy Sarah Palin. She is everything they hate and abominate. She is an unashamed conservative, a devout Christian, a gun owner, not a product of the Ivy League, she has worked with her hands and would do so again, she didn't have her Down's Syndrome baby chopped to pieces and sucked into a jar at an abortion mill, she doesn't really believe in human-caused global warming and she wants to drill in ANWAR.

The very reasons that the McCain wing of the Republican party hate Sarah Palin is why I and most other Republicans love her. This is why I started the Palin 2012 blogroll and why I am writing this piece.

This is why I believe that conservatives must unite behind Sarah Palin and promote her cause. Even if there is someone you personally like better the fact is that any other Republican would have to work long and hard to just arrive at the point of name recognition and popularity that Mrs. Palin already occupies. Sarah has a head start. Help her build on that.

And keep the faith the Moderates will lose. The relative moral strength of the two sides is clearly seen in the fact that the conservatives greatest victory came in their election of Ronald Reagan to the presidency while the greatest Moderate victory to date has been the nomination of John McCain to the candidacy.