Republican Troubles Ahead

The lowest-common-denominator nominee doesn't usually win.

Since Super Tuesday, there has been quite a bit of discussion about Mitt Romney dropping out of the race, Mike Huckabee staying in it and the presumption that John McCain has the Republican nomination in the bag.  But something else has also emerged from the discussion -- something I've heard very little about.

There has been record turnout in the primaries and caucuses.  More people than ever before are participating in the process.  This is a good thing, right?  I'm not so sure.

We've written about the perils of democracy, and of participating but not really having a reason for supporting one candidate over another.  In my mind, there is a great unease about more people participating because I'm not so sure that more people really understand the issues enough to make truly informed decisions.  This is part of what is going to be some very rough water for the Republicans as the election draws near.

The real trouble for the Republicans isn't having a candidate to rally around.  Mitt Romney's eloquent speech to the 2008 CPAC convention outlined a valid, rational reason for stepping out.

He didn't want a split party and contentious nomination leaving the Republicans only six weeks to defeat either Obama or Clinton.  A fair point.  Even if the Republicans rally around John McCain, it is too little too late.  The rank-and-file Republicans just don't care enough.

As the reports have come in regarding primaries and caucuses, it's become clear the Democrats are much more passionate about this election than the Republicans are.  I have yet to hear of a Republican caucus overflowing its space, but the Democrats are, around the country, showing up in droves.

The Republicans are settling for the least offensive while the Democrats are enthusiastic about their choices.  Granted, half the party may hate the other half's choice.   But it's a positive movement.  They're advocating for something.  They are excited about their choices.  The Republicans are barely able to tolerate their choice (or choices, if you still think there is one left).

And this is why it almost doesn't matter who the Democrats nominate, or who the Republicans nominate.  Because the Democrats despise President Bush, they'll unite behind whoever wins their nomination.  They'll be energized and excited.  They'll all show up.  Many Republicans are so unhappy with their choices, they're threatening to stay home.

And staying home doesn't bode well for the Republicans.  This means a larger Democratic majority in the House and Senate.  This means less ability to block Supreme Court nominees who are willing to look outside the Constitution to make their rulings.  It means undoing whatever good was done during the past eight years - at worst, all the good done since 1980, since Bill Clinton continued many of Reagan's policies, policies which Hillary and Obama have disavowed.

Republicans, and more particularly conservatives, must rely on more than a hatred of Hillary Clinton to advance their cause.  As a popular radio talk show host often says, you cannot advance your political agenda based on a negative.  You must lead with a positive agenda.  Without something to be for, it won't be enough to be against.  Can the conservative Republicans find something to be passionately for this election season?

The Mantle of Ronald Reagan still hangs in its closet, ready for any leader who'll carry it back to the White House.

Fennoman is a guest writer for  Read other articles by Fennoman or other articles on Politics.
Reader Comments
I think the role of we senior citizens is being underestimated. It is very easy for us to vote absentee and not so easy to get to meetings and the like.

We definitely pay attention to politics and do not want to see our country slide into socialism or worse.

Our impact on the next presidential election will be far greater than most assume.
February 13, 2008 10:29 PM
I live in VA and sometimes in DC. I voted for Huckabee and was amazed that he got as close as he did. If Hucakbee - who wasn't even my first choice to beging with - doesn't win, I will not vote for the RNC's nomination in the fall. They want to move away from conservatism? F*** 'em!
February 14, 2008 10:00 AM
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