You can thank Rush Limbaugh and Fox News for that
There’s plenty of recrimination going on about why President Obama cleaned Mitt Romney’s clock in last week’s election. At the end of the day, however, the reason for the drubbing is simple: America is not a far-right, super-conservative nation. We are, largely, a centrist country that probably leans a tad to the left.
But the Republican Party has allowed themselves to be completely co-opted by the far right and, more importantly, by the far-right pundits, commentators and blowhards that dominate the radio airwaves and Fox News. This plays out by making it all but impossible for their national candidates to win their primaries — unless, of course, they are willing to “drink the tea”, so to speak.
The Republican Presidential primary is the most obvious example. The only reasonable candidate in the running was Jon Huntsman and he didn’t stand a chance. Not. A. Chance.
Instead, look at who the contenders were: Michele Bachmann, Herman Cain, Newt Gingrich, Rick Perry, and Rick Santorum. The centrist voters of America was never going to let one of these extremists anywhere near the White House. They didn’t get the nomination but the man who has been running for President for decades and who spent an insane amount of other people’s money to get the nomination was forced by them to run far to the right. All of his moderate views went out the window during the primary while he transformed himself into Severely Conservative Man.
In the age of YouTube and a 24-hour news cycle, that doesn’t leave much room for Etch-A-Sketching.
It’s not going to change, either. The blathering millionaires who keep the far-right conservative fires stoked and white hot, people like Rush Limbaugh and his allies at Fox News, aren’t going to allow compromise and a move to the middle. That would damage their brand. They can’t suddenly start agreeing with The Kenyan on things!
Limbaugh, for example, is not having any of what he calls “pandering” — his word for moving toward the center where the rest of America is:
The usual suspects are out, and they’re saying, “Rush, we gotta reach out now to the Hispanics and reach out to the minorities, blacks.” Okay, let me remind you of something…Let me take you back to the Republican convention. We had Suzanne Martinez, female Hispanic governor, New Mexico. We had Condoleezza Rice, African-American, former secretary of state. Both of those people imminently qualified, terrifically achieved. They have reached the pinnacles of their profession.
We had Marco Rubio. We had a parade of minorities who have become successful Americans. And they all had a common story: up from nothing, hard work, their parents sacrificed for them. Now, why didn’t that work, folks? The answer to that is our future. Why didn’t it work? Some people say, “Well, Rush, we pandered.” No, we didn’t pander. Everybody says that we need to reach out to minorities. We have plenty of highly achieved minorities in our party, and they are in prominent positions, and they all have a common story.
Rush Limbaugh has built an empire out of stoking the farthest right conservative views that he can. He’s not about to let the Republicans move to the middle now. And, if you think he and his radio compadres don’t have the ears of much of American, particularly the states that Mitt Romney actually won, just take a drive down there for one day and scan the AM dial on your radio for a few hours. The Limbaugh set is making their listeners as comfortable as possible with never compromising.
Laura Ingraham is on the same page as Limbaugh. This is from her blog:
Are the defeats the fault of the GOP and its candidates, and do they now need to pander to minorities and update their platform to make it more appealing? What exactly is wrong with conservative principles? Anything? No. If it ain’t broke don’t fix it. We don’t need to change to appeal to voters. We need voters and their mindsets to change.
Nope, they don’t need to change. The rest of us do.
Many will blame the tea party for the corruption of the Republican Party primary system but the tea partiers are, by and large, led by the nose to the primaries by well-paid people like Limbaugh and Beck and the entire Fox News network. They had no political power but they have become the useful idiots that accomplish the goals of those who actually stand to profit from it. The talk show hosts, Fox News and some anti-tax, pro-Big Business groups like Americans For Prosperity are a powerful engine to keep pushing the Republican Party as far right as they can possibly go.
In the meantime, our national demographics are changing and the more they change, the more they resemble the Big Tent of the Democratic Party. The Republicans are, thanks to people like Limbaugh and Ingraham and Fox News, presiding over a shrinking number of people who are old and white and angry and impotent.
It’s no time to rest on our laurels and we must always keep our eye on the next election and begin organizing NOW. Because, at the local level, the conservatives can make inroads as Tea Party idiot Janice Daniels showed Troy, Michigan. But, in the long term, unless they figure out a way to push back against those that are condemning their party to irrelevancy, the Republican Party will be done at the National level.
And that, I would suggest, is a Bad Thing.
[CC image credit: DonkeyHotey | Flickr]