Skip to main content

The "Other" Base

As is to be expected, the mainstream media is falling all over themselves to congratulate Sarah Palin on her speech and to get first in line for the next barbecue at the McCain compound(s). The consensus - and we know just how wrong the consensus usually is - is that Palin's speech has consolidated and galvanized the conservative base. The first problem with this is that the conservative base has been mostly galvanized already. They are already spooked to the point of wetting their pants over the made up fantasy of the secret Muslim black man and his black militant wife turning the White House into a flophouse for the Black Panther Party. They are already there. What the pick did for McCain is get the last dregs of a dying voting bloc lined up for him.

The problem is the Palin pick and the traditional Republican nonsense she delivered has the side effect of rousting another base: Democrats. The Palin pick was originally sold as an appeal to Hillary Clinton voters - but what Clinton voter with an ounce of sense could possibly pull the lever for a ticket so proud of its knuckle dragging like McCain/Palin? Those already in the Obama camp and responsible for the Grand Canyon sized gulf in enthusiasm between the two candidates are just going to get fired up by Palin's speech and the other promises of another Bush term being offered in the sparsely occupied Xcel arena (seriously, why can't they get people to fill up all the seats in such a small venue?).

The other group of people likely to be unintentionally fired up by McCain and Palin are moderate, swing voters. The biggest reason Republicans lost the House and Senate was buyers remorse from those swing voters who voted for Bush in 2004, not realizing that the GOP's promise of protection and sanity were washed away in Katrina and the rush to privatize social security. The GOP is now tuned up for a replay of the 2004 strategy, but all they have left of that coalition is their white conservative male base. The minorities are all gone. The women have left them. Moderates have moved on. Elections in America are not won by James Dobson and Pat Robertson acting alone, no matter how they try to sell that to you.

In large part America is tired of fire breathing partisanship. They have seen the 50+1 percent presidency of Bush devolve into a 24% presidency. People, especially those in the middle, realize that a president that every day is focused on "winning" the base turns out to be a loser with people in the middle and in the other party. It is not a way to govern a nation - and it stymies the effectiveness of the presidency. People like Reagan and Clinton had presidencies that worked for better or worse because they hadn't written off half of the country on inauguration day.

For those who needed reminding, the Republican convention has done the job. Mission accomplished.