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Cashew Lou's Yukon Annex

I've got Pop-Pop in the attic.

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The Importance of Being Crazy
The following is my take on the, shall we say, interesting GOP lineup thus far for the 2012 presidential election. It is quite lengthy and detailed, so I will save the eyes of the uninterested with an LJ cut.

A friend of mine and I had a conversation earlier today, and the topic turned to the possible pack of candidates the GOP has to offer for the presidency in 2012. Granted, even the earliest caucuses and primaries are still nearly ten months away, and that can be an eternity in politics; still, the offerings so far from the right wing range from weak to downright laughable. I am not saying this just from my personal liberal point of view; I know conservatives who are groaning and shaking their heads, saying, "God, really? This is all we have to offer?"

The short and quick answer is: no. There are moderate and non-psychotic Republicans out there who would actually give Obama a run for his money, candidates who do not have the baggage or profound mental issues the current front-runners display on a nearly daily basis. So, my friend asked me, why are they being so quiet? Why don't they step up and take over in a group of nutcases and ultra-ultra-right Birthers and Tea Partiers? As a response, I came up with two possibilities.

As far as the right is concerned, the political bar for 2012 seems to have been set. Since the severe beating the Democratic Party took in the midterm elections in 2010, those on the far right have (rightly or wrongly) taken the results as a "voter mandate" supporting the Republican Party. The ultra-right and corporate funded Tea Party (let's not call them a "grassroots movement;" those of us capable of critical and logical thought know that ever since the town hall meeting protests of 2009 that the Tea Party has been very heavily funded by far right billionaires like the Koch brothers), now that they have had a taste of victory, feel entitled to set the criteria and rules for the presidential run in 2012. As the Tea Party siphons off a sizable chunk of the Republican Party, candidates in the GOP have little choice but to cater to them in order to keep their voter bases.

And therein lies the current problem: much of the Tea Party platform caters to the outright crazy. They believe, among other things, that Barack Obama was not born in the United States, that he is likely a Muslim or Socialist, and that all progressives and liberals are evil and do not deserve their own opinions in any situation. Many of them believe in an incorrect and potentially treasonous interpretation of the Tenth Amendment, and that states can willfully ignore federal laws they don't believe in. They believe the already super-entitled ultra-rich in the United States deserve more than those less fortunate. They believe eliminating women's reproductive rights and gay rights are more important than fixing unemployment and job creation, even in the midst of a crippling recession. They believe these things even though acres and acres of evidence to the contrary are readily available; they have been instructed by their media prophets to ignore fact and logical thought.

Savvy politicians know they must cater to their base, even if they (the politicians) do not actually believe in the exact same things. Normally, this is a case of splitting hairs and is fairly harmless. But in the case of the midterm elections of 2010 the Tea Party base was openly supported and encouraged by the candidates on the right, and this created a political Frankenstein's monster. To be a successful candidate on the right, you must include the Tea Party--and their standards and belief systems, no matter how bizarre--in your platform, or you will lose.

My apologies for being a bit long-winded, but I wanted to get a few facts out in the open before exploring the two possibilities I mentioned earlier. Here is why I believe the more moderate hopefuls in the Republican Party have not yet expressed interest in running for the presidency in 2012:

1. They have decided to sit this one out. Right now, the media love the Tea Party; it is extremely vocal, in-your-face and theatrical, which is custom-tailored for news coverage. Therefore, they get more air time, more publicity, and sadly, more legitimacy in the eyes of the American public. Moderate Republicans can see this, and they are forced to make a decision to either play along with the radicalized and unstable far right or wait until things have calmed down and/or blown over, in the hopes that the party will stabilize enough to fit their political philosophies. At this point in time, it is difficult to tell if that will happen in time for the 2012 election season. I believe many of the moderates in the GOP are taking a pass, at least regarding a presidential run.

2. They are waiting for the storm to blow over. Many ultra-right politicians have been grossly overstepping the limits of political propriety, and this is starting to cast a negative light on the Republican Party and Tea Party. Scott Walker in Wisconsin, John Kasich in Ohio, and Paul LePage in Maine are three of the more current and apparent examples. Polls are showing that voters in those regions are expressing serious "buyer's remorse," and that if the 2010 elections were held today, the outcomes would be significantly different. Tea Party rallies are dwindling almost exponentially in size, and the party's favorable ratings have been sinking as well.

Now, if this trend continues, it might be advantageous for a moderate conservative to step in and offer a more rational and calming alternative to the unhinged and thuggish activities that have been taking place on the ultra right. There are a lot of ifs and maybes in this equation. I personally believe that the GOP is going to have to continue catering to the Tea Party and the radical right, at least through the 2012 elections. If that is the case, as things stand at this moment, the GOP could very well take some heavy hits--not only in the presidential race, but at the congressional and state levels, as well. Consider recall elections are already in progress in Wisconsin.

I thought I would share my thought process with you on this topic. No matter what happens, the 2012 election season promises to be interesting, at the very least.

Your thoughts?

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I believe the basic metric of 2012 will be different presidential elections are different from midterms which tend to have less turn out and that turn out tends to just be different. The more crazy candidates will suffer for that in general.

Lets keep in mind a lot of the more vocal and crazy candidates ended up losing in 2010 easy victories in Nevada and Delaware shifted completely and the governorship of colorado did as well

That said... I suspect unless something shocking happens that the Republicans won't be in much danger in the senate and house.

I agree with your assessment.

Also, the more shocking things that have been happening politically have been happening on the right, and have been reflecting poorly on them. The Democrats have been, if anything, too careful...and with an election cycle coming up, I expect that to continue.

We'll see what happens in the coming weeks of course but it will be interesting.

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