Sunday, February 26, 2012

Looking Ahead for the GOP

John Heilemann contemplates the consequences of an increasingly likely loss for the GOP in the 2012 Presidential election in New York magazine.

With such precedents in mind, many Republicans are already looking past 2012. If either Romney or Santorum gains the nomination and then falls before Obama, flubbing an election that just months ago seemed eminently winnable, it will unleash a GOP apocalypse on November 7—followed by an epic struggle between the regulars and red-hots to refashion the party. And make no mistake: A loss is what the GOP’s political class now expects. “Six months before this thing got going, every Republican I know was saying, ‘We’re gonna win, we’re gonna beat Obama,’ ” says former Reagan strategist Ed Rollins. “Now even those who’ve endorsed Romney say, ‘My God, what a fucking mess.’ ”

For Republicans after 2012, a similar repudiation of the populist, culture-warrior coalition that is fueling Santorum’s surge would open the door to the many talented party leaders—Daniels, Christie, Bush, Ryan, Bobby Jindal—waiting in the wings for 2016, each offering the possibility of refashioning the GOP into a serious and forward-thinking enterprise. Only the most mindless of ideologues reject the truism that America would be best served by the presence of two credible governing parties instead of the situation that currently obtains. A Santorum nomination would be seen by many liberals as a scary and retrograde proposition. And no doubt it would make for a wild ride, with enough talk of Satan, abortifacients, and sweater vests to drive any sane man bonkers. But in the long run, it might do a world of good, compelling Republicans to return to their senses—and forge ahead into the 21st century. Which is why all people of common sense and goodwill might consider, in the days ahead, adopting a slogan that may strike them as odd, perverse, or even demented: Go, Rick, go.

Andrew Sullivan has a similar take on The Daily Dish.

I despise what the GOP has become. But it is what it is. And Santorum is its logical leader. Let this party stand up and be counted. Romney would shroud it in bullshit and blather - while not deviating from it a scintilla. If he won the nomination and lost the general campaign, the GOP would simply blame it on his lack of "real conservatism". And we'd be back where we started. With Santorum, we'd finally get to test whether that "real conservatism" is indeed the future of the GOP or what I think it is - a reactionary form of madness.

--Ballard Burgher

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