Thursday, 9 October 2008

Funny 'Cos It's True

I've been idly wondering for a while whether there will be a parallel between the way the Conservatives reacted to the '97 Labour Landslide and the manner in which the GOP will respond to their now almost inevitable defeat at the start of November. It seemed that anyone with any real brains realised that a moderate centrist was the only viable choice this time around, but there are a great number of conservatives convinced that they should have chosen someone less wishy-washy. It's the usual refusal to accept any given evidence could possibly count against conservatism as an idea. Bush was a bad president because he was too neo-conservative, McCain is losing because he isn't neo-con enough. It's at least possible, and I would say likely, that these elements of the Republican base will make it horribly difficult for another moderate candidate to get anywhere in the primaries (and let's not forget that McCain was a moderate candidate, although at this point he'd promise to blow up the planet if he found out the Martians wanted it and had 270 electoral votes in their pocket-equivalents), and that until the Republican's allow their brand to become more moderate, the voters won't touch them.

I'll admit that it isn't beyond the possibility that another Bush would get traction, because of the nature of American politics. Even so, we potentially stand on the brink of a situation similar to that suffered by the Tories for eight or so years, with the hardliners repeatedly nixing any attempt at large-scale change and leaving Hague, Duncan-Smith and Howard all bleating on about small changes to reflect current events, whilst Labour kept pointing out that the Tories used to be all kinds of shit and haven't bothered altering that fact. It's been obvious for years that they needed their own version of Tony Blair, and in Cameron they finally sort of have it (I say "sort of" for a number of reasons, but mainly because nothing he has done since taking control gives me any confidence that he isn't still bound to the hardliners, and just better at hiding it than Howard et al).

Turns out Kevin Drum is thinking along similar lines:
...[T]he GOP is going to be riven by factional warfare for years, with moderates unable to get a purchase on the party apparatus because of the McCain albatross hanging around their necks. Eventually, like Britain's Labor Party in the 80s, they'll find their Tony Blair, but in the meantime they're likely to double down on the most strident possible social conservatism, convinced that the heartland will respond if only they regain the true faith. Ronald Reagan, who was more pragmatic about these things than any of them ever give him credit for, will be rolling in his grave. And Democrats, at least for a while, will go from strength to strength.

I'm not sure that I'd have chosen Labour as my analogy, but I don't really remember that period too well, and it's entirely possible that Labour were as divided between change and stasis, and I just didn't notice. Regardless, it makes far more sense (especially on an American blog) to name-check Blair rather than Cameron, so I guess it doesn't really make that much difference.

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