Finding the Safe Ground Between Squander and Exploitation
... facilitating and exploiting that collapse, not watching it like some sick spectator sport in which we have no interest.
I thought of that when I read Ramesh Ponnuru's very interesting Bloomberg column about how Obama's weakness could lead to Republican overreach:
In any presidential primary there’s a tension between the voters’ desire for a candidate who can win the general election and their desire for a candidate who shares their views -- between, in other words, ideology and electability. The more beatable Obama looks, the more the balance for Republican voters will tilt toward ideology and away from electability.
That doesn’t just mean they will be more likely to support candidates such as Michele Bachmann and Herman Cain, who will have trouble winning votes from independents and Democrats. It also means the terrain of the primaries will shift: The candidates will place more emphasis on outflanking one another on the right and less on showing they can win in November 2012.
Even if Obama were doing better, the Republican primary would put a heavy weight on ideology. Whenever someone suggests that a candidate can’t win, many conservatives retort that people said that about Reagan, too. (What they forget is that people also said it about Barry Goldwater, and they were right.) And much of the Republican Party has convinced itself that Bush- era compromises bred political failure, a line of thought that makes concerns about electability seem beside the point. Combine these views with the natural inclination of people to think that their ideas are more widely shared than they are, and the result is a process where electability gets short shrift. Obama’s weakness only reinforces this tendency.
I tend to think people overstate the conflict between electability and ideology. I mean, for some political adherents there might be a conflict but obviously whichever candidate wins had a base with no conflict. But more than that, I think we forget that so-called moderate candidates have a huge demotivating factor. They depress turnout. Sure, not everyone is going to vote for someone more ideologically rigorous than John McCain, but that candidate probably has a good chance of energizing the base and creating an actual movement that can, you know, win an election.
Having said all that, I think Ramesh gives solid advice. One of the things I rather enjoy about the Ricochet community is how we're all aware that our personal political views aren't shared universally.
So how best to approach this? President Obama's implosion gives right-of-center folks a huge opportunity? How to avoid squandering that without overreaching?