George Will writes a floundering column about what a shame it is that Romney is the most “electable” GOP candidate running for office. “Has conservatism come so far, surmounting so many obstacles, to settle, at a moment of economic crisis, for this?” Will wails.
Even as Republicans come around to the idea that Romney may be their strongest opponent for President Obama, many are still convinced that a Romney presidency would represent a historic missed opportunity for the right.
At a moment in history when the Democratic incumbent in the White House ought to be extremely vulnerable, not to mention a Republican majority in both houses of Congress easily within reach, the Republican presidential field looks like a collection of rejects from the Island of Misfit Toys. And the one candidate who might possibly win the general election is, in some ways, the biggest “misfit” of all — someone movement conservatism considers to be an outsider.
How did this happen? How is it that such a dominant movement does not have a “deep bench,” so to speak, of respectable candidates that the establishment could market to the masses?
Part of the answer, IMO, is that “movement conservatism” has long been an empty shell of a movement. Beneath the facade of long-discredited ideas and deceptive talking points are nothing but resentment, bigotry, greed, and a deep sense of privileged entitlement.
Plus, the several factions within it don’t seem interested in going in the same direction. The neocons these days seem well outnumbered by isolationist social conservatives, for example, although the neocons still have a pretty big media megaphone.
On top of that, years of “politicking” with nothing but lies and dog whistles have left Republicans with a base that is utterly out of touch with majority public opinion, not to mention reality. Any candidate who might clean up well enough to have a shot at the general election couldn’t possible pass muster with the base.
I’m not saying that movement conservatism is about to dissolve away into the political ether. The Vast Right Wing Conspiracy still has the money and the media. And between gerrymandering and voter suppression laws, they are as much as glued into federal and state legislatures. I expect them to continue to hold power way out of proportion to their actual support among voters for many years to come.
No, I’m just explaining to George Will how movement conservatism came to this.