The 2012 presidential election is a long way off. There’s no way to know who the candidates will be (though President Obama as the Democratic nominee seems certain). The Republicans have a problem.
OK–first things first. Yes, I am a registered Democrat and probably more liberal than most. In that regard what I’m about to tell you is delicious.
However, this isn’t going to be a heavily partisan post. The Republican dilemma is real and the Republican leadership knows it.
There are really two elections for president. The first election gets you nominated. The second gets you elected. They are very different elections with a very different electorate.
Primaries attract less participation. Most people feel they’re not that important. That concentrates power in those who are motivated–often with narrowly defined issues that are very important to few.
Simply put you need to be farther right to win the Republican nomination than to win the general election. You need to be farther left to be nominated by the Democrats.
Today that motivated far-right wing of the Republican Party is the Tea Party. From where I sit they seem intransigent in their positions.
That’s why Mitt Romney has been forced to run away from moderate programs he endorsed while the Massachusetts governor. The same seems to be happening with Tim Pawlenty who was governor in Minnesota.
True moderates are scared to run because conciliatory talk about budget compromises or social programs will surely bring out “friendly fire” from the right! It’s already happened to Newt Gingrich!
Though the far right needs to be courted to get the nomination they really aren’t as necessary in the general election. It’s not as if these disappointed right-wingers will ditch a moderate Republican to vote to re-elect President Obama.
Candidates are left with a “Hobson’s Choice.”
Like I said, the election is a long way off. I’ll be interested in seeing how the Republicans intend to extricate themselves from this trap of their own making.