What seems evident to me cannot be less than that for the professional politicians and political pundits. On the other hand I don’t risk a following or a job for saying out loud what seems so obvious. There are no “wings” in today’s Republican Party; there are two major centers of passion and influence that overlap on a couple of key issues, and then, not always for the same reasons.
One center is the center-right corporate world of finance and international conglomerates along with the professional class of individual high earners including successful small business entrepreneurs. They declare an allegiance to smaller government mainly because by personality and history, they want to be left alone to do what they want to do when they want to do it without having to answer to anyone, especially to a bureaucrat who has no idea of what’s involved in their business. They have no or little personal animosity to Obama and in fact recognize his intelligence and political skill which makes it even more important to defeat him at the polls. Or in congress, but I’ll return to that idea in a moment or two.
The other center of influence is the reactionary right who are pledged to restore an America that exists only in mythology and fantasy.In that fantasy America was a homogeneous country of right thinking nobel individuals born with the blessing of natural intelligence unencumbered by years of education. Each and every one of these remarkable citizens could have stepped into the shoes of Washington or Jefferson, or since there is little respect for reality and information, perhaps even Benjamin Franklin, and everything would have turned out just as wonderfully as it did. Ironically this populist re-incarnation of the “know-nothing” party is economically fueled by a very few large moneyed people, but its passion is truly its own.
Both of these groups preach and swear to the political necessity for coming together after the convention and uniting in their shared determination to defeat Obama and make the government smaller. But they won’t because the passion and injury and distrust is too real, because the more serious struggle is for command of the party, and because they don’t have to defeat Obama to get most of what they want by simply defeating his policies via a strong majority in Congress. They know this, and so do the pundits who never talk about it.
There is of course a drama or two within the drama of the election. Here are the vulnerabilities that both centers, and the party face. If the center-corporate group wins the election, they take control of the party, but not command of it. The Reactionary right continues to buck their leadership as they have done for the last two years. If they lose the election, they lose control of the party and the reactionary right blames them for the loss. Command of the party is still being fought for.
If the Reactionary right wins the election, they win control and command of the party; but they don’t have the experience or gravitas to do anything useful with it. They will have to learn painfully to negotiate with the center-right, but it will continue to be a very uneasy arrangement. If the Reactionary right loses the election they are finished as a strong force within the party, and the center-right takes back both control and command.
Of course, this struggle could be put on the back burner and the essential goals of both groups met to a large degree by coalescing in their determination to elect a Republican Congress, which has moved further and further right, although at the moment many members of the party are worried that they may have moved too far too fast. That congress would be able to stifle Obama’s initiatives and underfund the legislation that he does manage to get enacted.
This sounds like a not unreasonable compromise but for the following realities. One, there will be a nominee from one group or the other, so the drama described above cannot be avoided. And two, if members of the group that feels thwarted in its efforts decides not to vote for the nominee, it is unlikely that they will bother to go to the voting booth at all.
What all of this means for the Democrats is simply this: if they do not shoot themselves in the foot, and if they maintain enough enthusiasm to push not only for Obama, but for the members of Congress, they have a good chance to win handsomely an election that six months ago looked lost.