The Republican Crack-Up Factor
At The Right's Field
, Matt Browner Hamlin highlights Matt Stoller's comments
on the "Republican crack-up" factor in the 2008 presidential cycle. I recommend giving both posts a read. Stoller argues that, in the era before blogs, Republican candidates could get away with saying "different things to different audiences," which enabled them to manage the difficult task of locking up the reactionary vote without alienating moderates. Now, however, their ugliness and hypocrisy will be on full display.
Hamlin, for his part, points out how both left and
right blogs are targeting the Republican primary field. The GOP frontrunners are likely to face as much damaging scrutiny from conservative blogs (such as these
) as from the liberal blogosphere. Thus, in Hamlin's words, the potential for a "blog-driven crackup."
I think Stoller and Hamlin make good points. Bloggers will be able to heighten the contradictions within a party that is run by a narrow ideological movement but depends upon its ability to appeal to moderate voters for electoral success. Ironically, this is the very same narrative conservatives would like to apply to the Democrats, but the proof is in the pudding: while there's disagreement over the war, the Democrats suffer nothing like the demoralization and confusion currently running through Republican ranks.
At the same time, and as much as I like to give the blogosphere credit, the Republican dilemma has to do with a number of factors besides bloggers. Primarily, as this blog has analyzed, it has to do with the crisis caused in conservatism by the movement's own experience of power, which has forced conservatives either to re-examine their assumptions about government and the nature of their coalition, or to retreat further into self-delusion. This, in turn, has raised the stakes for intra-party squabbles.
Much of this does trace back to the same problem with the iron law of American political history: a major party must be a broad coalition in order to survive. As the GOP has narrowed itself ideologically, it has relied increasingly on smoke and mirrors to maintain the illusion of inclusivity. But now, confronted with the bright light of the blogosphere and the hard physics of actual governance, the magic is beginning to fade.
Labels: conservatives, Matt Stoller, Republicans, The Right's Field