Tuesday, February 19, 2013

A good reason for Democrats to antagonize Republicans

By Richard K. Barry

Widely respected political analyst Stuart Rothenberg recently wrote about the civil war currently taking place within the GOP between moderates and radicals. For now the battlelines seem to be between Karl Rove's American Crossroads group and the Club for Growth, the Heritage Foundation, Rush Limbaugh, etc. 

One the one hand the American Victory Project proposed by American Crossroads wants to fund and support moderate/pragmatic Republicans who have a better chance to win both nominations and general elections. The radical right organizations and pundits wants to continue proposing candidates who see things their way, arguing, no doubt, that there is nothing wrong with the message only in the way it has been presented. 

Names like Mourdock, Angle, Akin, O"Donnell, and Buck would suggest that Rove has a point, which is that a lack of appreciation for the role of pragmatism has hurt the GOP.

But it's complicated. One piece of advice Rothenberg offers is this:

While creating a high-profile fight with "anti-establishment" groups, as American Crossroads has done, may help with fundraising and mollify supporters, it will turn out to be counterproductive because it will only enrage and empower the very people that American Crossroads is trying to marginalize.

If Rothenberg is correct, Rove and friends will only make crazy Republicans crazier and more successful, at least to the point of winning nomination battles. But that, of course, is the point:

Ultimately, the Republican Party's problems go back to its base voters, who participate in primaries and nominating conventions. Many of them are so blinded by their anger toward President Barack Obama, the national news media and their own party leaders that they are willing to nominate the most conservative candidate in a primary, no matter how limited his or her appeal in a general election.

It is rather sweet to see Karl Rove promote the potentially most marginal conservative candidates, if only through the law of unintended consequences. 

What is unsaid is that Democrats have good reason to promote a high profile liberal agenda to the extent that it enrages and therefore energizes radical Republicans to nominate candidates who cannot win in the general election. 

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