Sunday, January 08, 2012

Giving It Up

It was a "three-I's" weekend at Watching America: Iraq, Iran, Iowa. There are some nifty articles from the rest of the world's press, and a visit this weekend took a little longer than usual to choose one for today's post. I went with the third I.

I know I've said this many times before, but it's true: I'm amazed at how closely the rest of the world follows our election process. This article from Spain's Pais has an especially astute reading of the state of the Republican Party in the campaign for a presidential nominee.

The joke of the results in Iowa is that the three candidates who have taken the lead, with very little margin between them, is that each one of them personifies one of the three Republican souls that strive to prevail. The conservatism of Mitt Romney is that of business and money, above all pragmatic and mediating, and it goes without saying, reproaches the extremists of his party. Rick Santorum’s conservatism is particularly moral: He defends traditional values and even reactionaries, and is an activist against gay marriage and abortion. Finally, Ron Paul’s conservatism is more ambiguous, to the point that he can make many progressives enthusiastic: He’s a libertarian, highly individualist, enemy of taxes and public spending, and has no interest whatsoever in U.S. participation in foreign war ventures.

I think that analysis captures the current state nicely. The article also correctly notes the fact that the party faithful (and I use that term intentionally) are not happy with the putative leader in the race, Mitt Romney, so unhappy that they may go with one of the other candidates, proving that the great unwashed are far to the right of the party's leadership. That will have some rather profound consequences.

...The American right is suffering from itself, prepared to give up power before the radicalism of its ideas and values. It is the surest path to the victory of the others.

I'm sure the powers-that-be in the GOP are fully aware of that, which means that a brokered convention is not such a far-fetched possibility after all. Or, and this is also a possibility, it means those powers-that-be are willing to give Obama another four years (he hasn't really hurt them, after all) so as to groom a real winner for 2016.

Under either scenario, however, the election is looming large, if only for the down ticket possibilities. The power of Congress has increased in the last three years even if that power has only been used to obstruct most meaningful legislation. A stunning victory by either party could change everything, regardless of who is sleeping at 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue.

And that means actually voting this time around is very important.



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