Assuming that Mitt Romney is truly the “inevitable” GOP nomiinee, the question is, what will the Tea Party faction do?
According to Steve Kornacki, Rush has been trashing Mittens robustly and urging his listeners not to support him — anybody but Mittens. Rush’s influence is such that he could keep support for Mittens low enough to cost him the nomination.
Kornacki says also that much of Rush’s animus is directed at Mitt’s Massachusetts health care plan, the blueprint for “Obamacare.” However, Rush was fine with Romney when he ran in 2008 and had no issues with Romneycare, even though it was a couple of years old at that point.
This illustrates perfectly how irrational and hysterical much of the rightâ€™s response to Obamaâ€™s presidency has been. The individual mandate is actually a concept with deep conservative roots, one that numerous congressional Republicans touted as an alternative to Bill Clintonâ€™s reform proposal in 1994. This is why Romney had no trouble finding a representative of the Heritage Foundation to join him on stage when he signed his law in 2008. And itâ€™s why that law just wasnâ€™t a big deal to Limbaugh and most other conservative opinion-shapers back in 2008 â€” and why it only became a problem for Romney when Obama embraced it at the national level.
Itâ€™s not that hard to imagine an alternate universe in which Romney somehow won the White House in 2008, then muscled through a national version of his Massachusetts law â€” with Republican support. But it was Obama who won, and when he tried to do the same thing, virtually every Republican in America accused him of destroying capitalism. As Jonathan Bernstein put it, it seems that to the right the Affordable Care Act isnâ€™t socialism but that Obamacare is.
When politics gets this irrational, it’s hard to predict what people will do. Baggers who run screaming from Romney now might be persuaded to vote for him in the general election. Nate Silver thinks the Republican primary calendar mostly favors Mittens (although less so if Hew Hampshire is moved up to December), since he is likely to win two early states, New Hampshire and Nevada.
Speaking of irrational — Jonathan Bernstein brings up something I’ve been thinking about also. The baggers have been stirred up into a fevered pitch about the 47 percent of Americans who don’t pay federal income taxes. However, it’s almost certain many of these same screamers pay no federal income taxes themselves and don’t realize it. He writes about the “We are the 53 percent” movement —
… the other story in the â€œ53 percentâ€ group is that Iâ€™m pretty confident that a substantial portion of themâ€¦donâ€™t actually pay income taxes, and therefore are not, in fact, part of the 53 percent of households who do. For example, this citizen claims to be a college senior working â€œ30+ hours a week making just barely over minimum wage.â€ Which is great and all, but if thatâ€™s all heâ€™s got heâ€™s not paying any income tax. Just as a guess, Iâ€™d be surprised if any fewer than 10 percent of the posters are actually income-tax free, and I wouldnâ€™t be surprised if itâ€™s about 50/50.
[Note: If the link in the quote isn’t working, this is the site he is talking about.]
Of course, they’re paying payroll taxes, and some federal taxes probably are deducted from their paychecks. And they file income tax returns and enjoy their refunds. What’s not connecting in their brains is that what’s being refunded is whatever federal income taxes were taken out of their paychecks, and that FICA taxes do not count as “income” taxes.
But this takes us back to the fact that these people are very stupid and will believe whatever they are told by the media mouthpieces they listen to, and if Mittens is the nominee, you can bet that Rush and the rest of the mouthpieces will fall in line and order their audience to do their duty and vote for Romney.
There’s no right-wing equivalent of Ralph Nader (well, except Ralph himself) to persuade them that it doesn’t matter which candidate wins, so they should send a message to the GOP by not voting, or by voting for a third-party candidate (such as Ralph). It’s mostly lefties who are dumb enough to fall for that one.