Rick Moran (Right Wing Nut House) offers an interesting discussion of the current Republican disarray:
The face of conservatism used to be a happy face, a confident face, an optimistic face. I suppose its easy to be happy if you are winning elections but there was more to it than that, more to it than even the fact that the naturally sunny disposition of Ronald Reagan was at the head of the movement. That optimism and happiness was born in the give and take of debate when Big Ideas – consequential, important ideas – were the stuff of bull sessions, conferences, panel discussions, and papers published at the various think tanks. All factions of conservatism had their say. There was passionate disagreements over everything. But somehow, we never lost sight of the goal – building a conservative movement where ideas translated into government action.
Somewhere along the way, we gave into the temptation to use conservative ideas to divide rather than unite. This tactical decision brought electoral success but at a price. It gave social conservatives and their splenetic base a platform to dominate the movement and the Republican party. The price for that mistake is still being paid.
I will give the splenetic conservatives credit where credit is due; they vote. And they contribute money to the movement and the Republican party. And in many parts of the United States, they are the Republican party, supplying not only funds but volunteers for campaigns who do the hard, slogging work of trying to get Republicans elected.
It is ironic that they are a larger group than most give them credit for but smaller in numbers than they themselves believe. They dominate the right side of the internet as well as many local Republican organizations (I have quit three different GOP groups because I got tired of people telling me I wasn’t a conservative). And if you cross them, you are in for much unpleasantness as many of the anti-Palin conservatives discovered. Is it important? The press has chosen to make splenetic conservatives the face of conservatism – for obvious reasons. Anything that can make conservatism look intolerant, bigoted, dangerous, and ignorant will gleefully be used to portray all conservatives in a negative light. We saw this in the waning days of the campaign when the press began to focus on “angry” crowds at McCain and Palin rallies, thus tarring all McCain supporters unfairly as yahoos and haters.
Ridding ourselves of these meddlesome and problematic screamers is not the issue. Opening their minds to the possibilities of compromise is a useless exercise – not when they see compromise as apostasy deserving of excommunication. Attempting to marginalize them would be playing their game. Besides, cutting off one’s legs as a way to heal the body is a strange way of reforming the movement. There must be a place for them at the conservative table – even if they have to be strapped down and force fed some hard truths about the exigencies of power and how futile their campaign to purify the movement when it comes to the raw exercise of democracy at the ballot box.
Good luck with all that. Nothing I disagree with in the diagnosis, but what about the prescription for cure? Strapping splenetic conservatives down and force feeding them hard truths that they despise isn't actually an option.