The Conservative Crack-Up Avoided
Earlier in the week, Mike Greve attempted to explain why the Republicans have been able to stay together and avoid a conservative crack-up, despite their conflicting factions:
The atrocious Bush 43 years left conservatism spent, exhausted, and discredited. Under a focused, level-headed, first-things-first Democratic administration, conservatives would have been destined to spend many years in opposition, either to do what opposition forces are supposed to do (regenerate themselves) or else in mutual recrimination. But there was never any time for that: it was pedal-to-the-metal debt, Obamacare, and Elizabeth Warren from day one. Under those conditions you don’t need “bricolage” or jazzed-up fusionism. The agreement to fight back doesn’t need any theory, incomplete or other; and as for arguments, the troops fall back on time-tested tropes. There may never have been a time when conservatives cared less about what the guy in the next foxhole thinks about contraceptives or bankruptcy law.
I think Mike is completely correct about this. The Democrats were undermined by an embarrassment of political riches. They had supermajorities in both houses of Congress and the Presidency. And they had an economic crisis. Like the proverbial child in the candy store, they couldn’t help themselves – and didn’t have the discipline either to pass measures that would have some moderate Republican support or to focus on the economic downturn with realistic economic reforms. Instead, they went for the liberal holy grail of health care and big government.
The price they paid was unifying the Republican party against them and causing the formation of a popular movement in the form of the Tea Party. This was hardly unexpected. In fact, I predicted something like this would happen if President Obama won the election.
I don’t mean to criticize Obama or the Democrats too strongly. It would have taken a genuinely masterful politician to have avoided these traps and not believed the rhetoric about a new age of Aquarius. But now no one should be surprised that Republicans are unified, even if they only have a 50/50 chance of winning back the presidency.