Sunday, October 19, 2008

The Two Republican Parties

Colin Powell's endorsement of Barack Obama today underscores how clearly and irreparably John McCain has split open the fault line in the GOP.

In going against McCain, whom he has known and admired for two decades, the party's keynote speaker in 2000 and former Bush Secretary of State cited Sarah Palin and the William Ayers tone of the Republican campaign and praised the "inclusive nature" of Obama's as key reasons for his decision.

If, against all odds, McCain wins, traditional Republicans like Powell and those pillars of the GOP before the rise of the Religious Right and Karl Rove's divisive tactics will be all but shut out.

If McCain loses, the struggle for the soul of a battered minority party will be ideologically fierce. The signs are already emerging:

*"In the end," Peggy Noonan writes in the Wall Street Journal, "the Palin candidacy is a symptom and expression of a new vulgarization in American politics. It's no good, not for conservatism and not for the country. And yes, it is a mark against John McCain, against his judgment and idealism."

*The son of the National Review's founding father, William F. Buckley, is forced out for supporting Obama. “But to paraphrase Ronald Reagan," Christopher Buckley explains, "I didn’t leave the Republican Party, the Republican Party left me.”

*Traditional Republican voices, such as those of columnists George Will and David Brooks, have been lamenting the direction of the party and the tone of the campaign.

For decades to come, political analysts will be debating John McCain's decision to move rightward rather than appeal to centrists as the maverick he once was but is now just the basis for an empty slogan.

But win or lose, he will have shaken up the Republican Party for years to come.


Anonymous said...

The choice of Sarah Palin as McCain's running mate, I think, stems from the Rovian concept that the GOP must sell itself as the "OWAP," which is the "Ordinary White American Party." It's been successful in the past.

This concept relies on the notion that OWA's are simple provincial types easiy manipulated by symbols. The difference now is degree to which supply-side economics have shafted ordinary Americans of all colors and creeds.

Anonymous said...

I think an ideological split amongst the Rethugs was inventible regardless of who the nominee was because of the unstable nature of the Rethug coalition. You now have three mutually exclusive parts of the party. Main Street, Wall Street, and the Flat Earth Society. The thing that surprised me about the whole thing is that this unstable coalition stayed together as long as it did. A wise man once said that victory has 100 fathers and defeat is an orphan, so it is here.