Much has been made online and within the MSM about the conservative vs liberal (and moderate) wings/candidates of the Republican party during this Presidential GOP primary election.
On one side – the liberal or Massachusetts Moderate – we have Mitt Romney. On the other side, we have the rest trying to pit themselves as the poster child for conservatism (and the word “conservative” seems to be open to debate and interpretation this year as well).
I think this GOP primary is shaping up to be something more though, something that the Democratic Party had to go through in 2008 – Old Guard vs New Guard or better yet Old Establishment vs New Establishment.
Let me define “establishment” in these terms for our purposes here as those that are in a position of power within the party structure.
This thought first came to me awhile ago, but I was reminded about it and made more of a connection when John McCain endorsed Mitt Romney. This endorsement was really no surprise and in fact, I wrote a piece detailing that Mittens was actually McCain Version 2012.
McCain’s endorsement coupled with the endorsement of former President George HW Bush and the less than tacit snubbing of TX Gov. Rick Perry there is a power struggle within the GOP (carried out almost daily on Fox News anytime Karl Rove opens his mouth). In effect, it’s the Bush wing vs. all challengers to the Bush legacy.
We saw the same thing playing out in 2008 and since – the Clintons vs all challengers to the Clinton legacy.
As former Presidents, both Clinton and the Bushes, had the opportunity to place their supporters and loyalists in positions within their respective parties. Both the Clintons and the Bushes continued to shape their parties until someone came along to knock them off the proverbial hill. In the Clintons’ case, it was Barack Obama’s hostile takeover of the Democratic Party and when President Obama leaves office, his loyalists will control the Democratic Party until someone unseats the Obamaites’ chosen successor(s). Right now, Obamaites have already fanned out across the country to lay the ground work to stay in power within the Democratic Party. Mayor Tiny Dancer in Chicago is a prime example of this, much like how Clintonites Bill Richardson ran for governor, Hilary ran for Senate, etc.
Likewise, we see this same situation taking place during the GOP primary. The Bushes, with their preferred candidate John McCain of 2008, have tried to crown their successor through Mitt Romney. Mittens will of course promote his people into positions of power, but those people will be aligned with the Bush wing.
Hence, we see one of the roots of the conservative vs moderate/liberal problem within the GOP just like we saw the battle between the center-left vs far left in the 2008 Democratic primary. The non-Mitt candidates represent varying different variations of conservatism different than George W Bush “conservatism”. We have Reagan Republicans, Libertarian Republicans, and Clinton Era Republicans vs Bush Republicans.
I know I am working in grand generalizations here, but it’s a working thesis. I would ask you to pay attention to who the pundits and commentators are talking up or down. Right now, it seems Mittens is largely getting pass from the conservative intelligentsia while these same critics are pointing out how Candidate X or Candidate Y doesn’t have the money, doesn’t appeal enough to independents, didn’t make the correct speech, etc.
We are left with a power struggle for the GOP that could ultimately result in Obama’s re-election.
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