The title of this piece is a sort of three part play on words, a funny little line that might be construed as a blatant mistake but is in all seriousness the heart of the Republican matter. What is Left or left of the American Right? The party is in shambles, with a base as politically divided by values as it is by venues to entertain them. It is a party of punches thrown, in the middle of an arduous trench war across the early states leaving frontline faces battered and bruised and it is a party with a questionable future, the next generation or two having extremely limited public and in turn presidential appeal.
But what’s politically Left of the Right is a Democratic donkey party, whose base, while intact, is also a shadow of its former self, lacking the once-fledging support that swept them back to power in 2008.
What’s in between is what’s in question today and every day leading up to the November election; with both bases broken this race has turned more than ever into a fight for the American middle ground, the people with no party ties who flee fast from high rhetoric and partisan political extremes. These are the people who will ultimately decide the fate of this two party system with two parties on the brink; the people with no party at all are suddenly the people who mean the most to both of them.
The Mad Kings: The Republican Base
At some point, sometime around the rise of the Super PACs, the Republican Party found a funnel for both money and ideas. The problem is that the funnel worked both ways; the money poured into the party when it needed to but the ideas poured out, into a hundred little jars of self-contained (and independently funded) political thought. The Faith Family Freedom Fund and Citizens for Prosperity and Good Government, The Christian Temperance League, each with its own small fortune and unique brand of Republicanism. The results were hollowing; the party was reduced to a well-financed shell that could still win elections by sheer force but without any centralized governing ideals or beliefs.
The longer these rogue groups were left to stew, the longer their ideas were validated by the money pouring in, the more entrenched (and in some cases unhinged) the ideas became and the harder it was to unify them under one banner or behind one leader. It wasn’t noticeable at first, the Grand Old Dogs of the party still held court, but the cracks became evident in 2010 when races went un-won, when Sharron Angle and Christine O’Donnell and Carl Paladino wouldn’t cater to anybody let alone their electorate and two or three or maybe ten different narratives began to emerge within the party, each with Republican ties but none really relating to one another and impossible for the average voter to adopt en masse.
What’s happened is that unhampered but hyper-funded ideology has taken precedence over the polls; the divided factions of the party would rather throw an election to the wind than cull or incorporate their beliefs. And worse than the mere steadfastness of it all is the proliferation of those beliefs at the expense of well-rooted Republican ideas; these candidates would rather grandstand with their far right and at times far-fetched ideals in the forefront than speak to the talking points on which all Republicans, including themselves, can agree.
This is of course not how electoral politics are played; if the tide turns you turn with it, but if you all turn a different direction, the ship pulls apart…