By Lance Thibert
Regardless of how the presidential race ends up, the Republican party will come out of 2008 damaged to the core and internally divided. Even if McCain wins his squeaker by rolling snakes eyes in Pennsylvania, the damage the friction in the Republican party is already done. It was starkly evident in the primaries, with Rudy and McCain as the moderates, and Romney and Huckabee as the conservatives. The conservative wing of the party lost out, and has been pouting ever since, driving down enthusiasm for McCain and depression his turnout. Some think they got what they wanted in Sarah Palin, but she drives away more than she brings in. The recent reports of Palin “going rouge” and acting like a “diva” are driven by sources from within McCain’s own campaign.
Fighting over the RNC chairmanship has already begun, with Mitt Romney looking to pull a Howard Dean and seize the chair for himself. (don’t you just love politics?)
And that’s not the worst of it. Congressional Republicans are in a world of hurt, being hit in their strongholds by democratic challengers. Both Moderate and Conservative GOP senators are being hit hard. The GOP will lose many of it’s moderate incumbents, like Sunnunu in New Hampshire. The GOP recruits this cycle have been weak, often far too conservative in a Democratic year. Case in point, the Colorado senate race. Super-conservative Bob Schaffer will lose to Mark Udall, and Schaffer’s rival for the GOP nomination, McInnis, now says he would have won if they had given him the nod.
“Frankly I have more difficulties with the right wing of my party then I do with taking on a Democrat. Udall was not the biggest threat I faced in the election. My biggest threat was getting through the primary. Both parties have a pretty radical element to them.” -McInnis
The Question is who will control the Republican party? Will the right wing simply seize control of the party mechanics? It’s possible, but their recruits will probably continue to be weak. The two GOP favorites for a run for Colorado governorship in 2010 are Bob Beauprez (again) or, get this, Tom Tancredo. With Beauprez’s dismal result and Tancredo’s utter wingnut status, neither have a real shot. The point is, if the Republicans turn to the right, they will probably get Goldwatered again and again. If the Republicans turn to the center, they will suffer a drop in enthusiasm, fundraising, ground troops, and turnout. However, such a move might bring back states like Colorado, Virginia, New Hampshire and Iowa. The Blue Dog Democrat tactic of fitting the candidate to his/her district is working, even if that candidate is pro-gun, pro-life, and pro-war. In essence, the Democrats have expanded the tent of their party, while the Republicans have been busy purging all those who aren’t pure conservatives (“liberal” is never used more often as an insult than in republican primaries).
Who will take over the Republican party after 2008? Only time will tell, but one thing Republicans can look forward to is the probability of infighting within the Democratic party. If Obama can keep things together, and run a unified government (I’m not sure anyone in American politics is capable of this anymore) then things look bleak for the GOP, However, that isn’t likely.
Also, just for the sheer irony of it: