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February 28, 2012

They're Always After Our Lucky Charms

This is nothing short of brilliant, the second and fourth paragraphs in particular:

Myth number five is the contemporary one used by the right to explain the unhappy state of the current Republican primary contest: the idea that Romney and/or his establishment allies have managed on purpose to split the non-Romney vote, enabling the dreaded Establishment Moderate to worm his way up to the top. Oddly enough, Chris Matthews seems also to believe this, as he told his six viewers on the cable network Republicans refer to as MSDLC: “I can’t win the hearts and minds of Republicans, but I can keep them divided,” he imagines Mitt Romney as thinking. “I can make sure the evangelicals get their day with Santorum, that the libertarians get their say with Ron Paul.” In this, Matthews is on the same page as Rush Limbaugh, who told his vastly larger audience that this indeed was the case. “The Republican establishment is trying to split the conservative vote among all the other conservative candidates,” he said in December. “The Gingriches, Bachmann, Perry, Santorum .  .  . they’re dividing that vote.”

That “they” managed to do this was declared with assurance, though the mechanics of how this was managed were never described. Did “they” first discourage all of the stronger conservatives? Did they go to all the non-Romneys early last year, and, knowing that each had a following and yet was too weak to dominate the others, convince them their moment was now? And once all were in, how was a proper balance maintained? If one were too strong, he would dominate, and become a genuine threat and contender. If some were too weak, they would be forced to drop out, or cease to drain the right number of votes from the others. This had to be handled with infinite cunning: A false move made in either direction and the entire grand scheme would implode.

It’s one thing to say this dynamic has helped Romney​—​it has​—​or that it’s what he would do if he did have the power​—​he undoubtedly would​—​and another thing entirely to say that he does have the power, and did. As Jim Geraghty notes, movement conservatives tend to believe that their base is larger than that of the moderates (as well as more virtuous) and that their ideas are more popular; hence defeat in a fair fight is not possible. Thus if they lose, the fight must not be fair, and there must be a reason. If no reason seems clear, then one must be invented. Hence the belief in strange plots.

Hence the belief that an establishment, as opposed to mere voters, must have foisted Dole, McCain, and Bush père et fils on a helpless Republican party, and now plans to do this again. But this is a whole lot of foisting, and bypasses two critical things. One is that there is no evidence of any foisting since 1968, when Democratic insiders gave their nomination to Hubert H. Humphrey after the murder of Robert F. Kennedy, a show of muscle and arrogance that led to changes in both major parties that have made it next to impossible for anyone to do the same again. Since then, potential nominees have foisted themselves on the voters, often to the dismay of their party leaders, flooding the zone with eccentric, unlikely, and vanity candidacies, and leaving it to voters to sort the wheat from the chaff. Party elites, who would give all their teeth for the chance to foist anything, have been forced to gesticulate from the sidelines, while Howard Dean, Herman Cain, Jesse Jackson, Dennis Kucinich, and Pats Buchanan and Robertson disported themselves in the main arena. What’s a poor foister to do?

If only the RNC were that smart.

Posted by Cassandra at February 28, 2012 06:43 AM

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I suspect it's the same human motivation that makes folks believe conspiracy theories. In order to make sense out of what is essentially a chaotic world, it's comforting to ascribe the chaos to some form of "hidden" (and probably sinister) order. It CAN'T be that a lone nut with a bolt action rifle can change history, it MUST have been some shadowy organization like the Mafia, or the CIA, or the KGB that did it. It CAN'T be that TWA flight 800 simply exploded in mid-air due to a mechanical failure in the fuel tank, it MUST have been a surface to air missile, or bomb planted on board. It CAN'T be that Romney is simply fortunate to have the more Conservative camps divided by loyalty to their various favorites, it MUST be that someone arranged to make it so.

But to believe that (and to be fair, I DO think the "Establishment Republican Party" does want Mitt Romney to win the nomination) is to discount the OTHER moderate Republican candidates who fell to the wayside earlier in the campaign. To do so is to ignore that Romney had moderate competitors splitting his "camp". The difference is, there were fewer of them, and Romney stole most of the air out of the moderate side of the party, whereas the more conservative side kept jumping from horse to horse as they self destructed (Bachmann, then Cain, then Perry, then Gingrich). I don't think there must be some shadowy organization pulling the strings behind the scenes to explain what is pretty much a straightforward piece of logic. Romney has (and had throughout the campaign) the largest war chest. This gives him a pretty secure place in the primary. Money alone won't win a primary (as Santorum is doing a good job of demonstrating), but it surely helps.

Posted by: MikeD at February 28, 2012 09:23 AM

Thank God I don't have *lucky charms* as that would be rather painful.

Posted by: DL Sly at February 28, 2012 07:29 PM

Romney has (and had throughout the campaign) the largest war chest. This gives him a pretty secure place in the primary. Money alone won't win a primary (as Santorum is doing a good job of demonstrating), but it surely helps.

It's not just money, but organization. I was listening to the radio the other night and some guy had written a book about presidential campaigns. Successful candidates generally start 1.5 to 2 years out.

Incredibly, having the sense the good Lord gave a grapefruit is now widely considered to be a sign that you're a "loser" amongst the base, as in, "a real candidate wouldn't have to do what pretty much every successful candidate has done in the past".


Posted by: Me Foist! at February 29, 2012 04:23 PM

(I'll sneak in a comment over here as well).

You don't need to be a conspiracy theorist to think that the RNC has a deep, vested interest in WHO wins. Also, that the DNC has a deep, vested interest in preventing a serious challenger to BHO from emerging. Nor that the two of them have COMMON interests, that they both clearly perceive.

The Republican - Democrat dichotomy serves BOTH parties' interests. Ever notice how hard it is for a THIRD party to gain traction? At the state level, coordination with the national parties is normal and accepted - but with the Internet, it's getting harder to hide:

You will never get enough evidence to satisfy some people; you will find false alarms at times. However, consider: if BOTH parties saw a threat to their continued dominance of elections, what would they do? When was the last time someone who WASN'T a D or R won a Presidential election?

I'm not a conspiracy theorist; just a student of human nature. Ignoring human nature has gotten us where we are today, with an overwhelming, totalitarian, repressive government structure that shuts down little girl's lemonade stands, claims dominion over your backyard vegetable garden and tells you what you can use for money, under threat of force and imprisonment. Isn't that what the founding fathers fought against?

You don't need to be a conspiracy theorist anymore; just read the newspapers, READ THE LAWS (unlike the CONgress that passed them) and see what can happen, anytime those in charge consider you a threat.

Posted by: James the Wanderer at March 2, 2012 04:51 PM

When was the last time someone who WASN'T a D or R won a Presidential election?

Millard Fillmore (Whig) 1850

Ever notice how hard it is for a THIRD party to gain traction?

Largely though, not because the D & R gang up on them. 3rd parties tend to be made of purists who tend not to play well with others. This is a major problem when one is playing a team sport (and I say this as someone with some decently strong libertarian sympathies).

3rd party types tend to like being in the minority as it allows them to "keep their hands clean". For example Ron Paul would vote against many forms of deregulation because it would mean that he would first have to accept the premise that such a thing may be regulated *at all*. A vote for less regulation is still a vote *for* regulation.

This is a fine position to take if you want to set yourself apart as "The Only Principled Politician", but it isn't a recipe for gaining widespread (much less majority) support.

Posted by: Yu-Ain Gonnano at March 2, 2012 05:44 PM

Shorter YAG: The Ds and Rs don't have to shoot down libertarians, they shoot themselves in the foot quite well already.

Posted by: Yu-Ain Gonnano at March 2, 2012 05:50 PM

True enough; but then , compromising with snakes leaves you snake-bit ;)

Posted by: James the Wanderer at March 2, 2012 06:57 PM

So what is your goal? To not get bit, or to change policy? The two are mutually exclusive.

Posted by: Yu-Ain Gonnano at March 2, 2012 09:15 PM