alien & sedition.
Monday, April 16, 2007
  Primary Questions Revisited

Vernon Lee has some good thoughts on the relationship between primary elections and intra-party ideological disputes. He points out something I didn't observe in my own post on the subject:
Just because party factions don't engage in open, pitched battle for nominations - in which ideological differents are on full display - doesn't mean that individual candidates don't have ideas that deviate from mainstream voters (of Party or general electorate). We just don't hear about them unless there is some benefit to the candidate.
Much of the presidential primary process, of course, is based around trying to draw these "hidden beliefs" out of the candidates, and obliterate them if necessary. It's also useful to keep an eye on who is advising whom on policy - this is something I'll try to do here over the next few months.

Vernon sees the next major internal GOP question shaping up around the role of authoritarians in the party:
The Giuliani example appears to be a sui generis candidacy - a "one-time exception" - but perhaps is an unusually vivid example of the Right-Wing Authoritarian dominance of today's Republican party. In this model, RWAs will support any candidate pre-approved by their leadership regardless of ideological differences.

In the first few years of the Bush presidency, when the Southern wing of the Republican party overwhelmed both the party and two and a half branches of government, many liberals were heard to wonder, "What happened to the Rockefeller Republicans?" Now, such questions seem maddeningly quaint: the ideological battle is not one between Rockefeller and Southern populist Republicans, but between authoritarians and non-authoritarians. We have John Dean's Conservatives Without Conscience, Bob Altemeyer's The Authoritarians, Joe Conason's It Can Happen Here, and journalists such as Glenn Greenwald, Dave Neiwert, and Digby to thank for midwifing and popularizing these essential explanations of our political moment.

The next ideological rift within the Republican party will not be over elements of the party's platform - small-bore ideology - but Ideology write large: the extent to which the Republican party will remain captive to its RWA base. The question for Republicans is, What to do with the authoritarians among us?
I think there's a certain dovetailing between lockstep tendencies among the rank-and-file and the new conservative embrace of expansive executive power, but the phenomena are not precisely the same thing. Would Republican activists and donors and intellectuals be inclined to purge either tendency from their party? On the whole, I don't see it, at least for now. Certainly a President Hillary Clinton could inspire them to re-think (or at least hypocritically ignore) their Bush-era approach to executive privilege, I suppose. Meanwhile, it seems to me that the fundamental dilemmas facing the next generation of Republican leaders involve how to re-think 1) the party's relationship to the conservative movement, and 2) the conservative philosophy of government.

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Critical analysis of the American conservative movement from a progressive perspective. Also some stuff about the Mets.

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