The Republicans won in Tuesday’s election when they were able to hide or smooth over the divides in their Party, and when they were facing weak opponents. But District 23 in upstate New York was the Bermuda Triangle of the Republican Party, metaphorically speaking of course. Here is an excerpt from Wednesday’s on-line New York Times (November 4, 2009). Republicans sure have a long and winding road ahead of them as many in their base push ever more conservative candidates onto the ballot.
Ms. Palin, who had endorsed Mr. Hoffman in the upstate New York race, indicated that she had not been dissuaded by his loss.
“To the tireless grass-roots patriots who worked so hard in that race and to future citizen-candidates like Doug,” she wrote on her Facebook page, “please remember Reagan’s words of encouragement after his defeat in 1976: the cause goes on.”
And Senator Jim DeMint, Republican of South Carolina, announced that he was endorsing Chuck DeVore, a conservative, in the California race for a Senate seat. Mr. DeVore is opposing Carly Fiorina, former chief executive of Hewlett-Packard, who was encouraged by party leaders to seek the nomination.
Other conservatives, too, were not deterred by the New York defeat. Marjorie Dannenfelser, president of the Susan B. Anthony List, a conservative organization that strongly supported Mr. Hoffman, said that conservative activists intended to play a role in Republican primary and general elections next year and that it was just as important to keep unacceptable politicians out of Congress as to help others win.
With fighting words such as keeping “unacceptable politicians out of Congress”… and “the cause goes on,” right-wing Republicans should provide quite a show in 2010 and 2012. I can just see all of those Independents rallying to the party of “Dr. NO” and “Conservatism or Bust.”
Of course the Republicans could wise up and take the loss in District 23 as an indication that following the extreme right is like walking off a cliff. However, I am not betting at this point that the Republicans are ready to let self-interest guide them. Someday, perhaps, when Alaska starts to thaw (which may not be that far off, come to think of it).
UPDATE, January 21, 2010.
Brown’s win in Massachusetts suggests that the thaw I referred to above may be happening sooner than expected, that is, the GOP’s interest in survival is starting to win out against ideology. However, I wouldn’t count on it down the road. The Republicans won in Massachusetts with a pro-choice candidate who voted for the state’s publicly supported health care system, which covers 97% of its citizens. It will be interesting to see how Palin’s supporters deal with Brown and the Republican establishment in the coming months. Of course a lot depends on whether the Democrats are able to get their act together.
UPDATE, January 25, 2010
Regarding just how well the right wing of the Republican Party is going to get along with itself and the rest of the Republican Party, see “Tea Party Disputes Take Toll on Convention” in today’s New York Times. The article notes,
The convention’s difficulties highlight the fractiousness of the Tea Party groups, and the considerable suspicions among their members of anything that suggests the establishment.
The Republicans aren’t home free by any means. Scott Brown’s victory does not a unified party make.