Rand Paul’s victory is another sign that there’s a roiling, libertarian revolt within the GOP that is likely to fuel an out-of-nowhere Dean-style “Republican-wing of the Republican party” candidate for 2012. The way Dean represented a rejection of Clintonism, this candidate will represent a rejection of Bushism. He may upset the apple cart on foreign policy the way Dean did—perhaps by calling for a pull-out from Afghanistan.
Dean was also running within the DLC consensus on social and cultural issues in 2004. Lowry seems to forget completely that Dean took a lot of flack for his stated interest in expanding the Democratic Party to include, as he put it, “guys with Confederate flags in their pick-up trucks.” His idea was to try to make the Democratic Party competitive nationwide, and he argued that this involved tailoring candidates to their constituents, which is more or less what the DCCC and DSCC ended up doing in the last two cycles. The idea was to minimize and downplay differences over social and cultural issues in order to appeal to working- and middle-class voters, many of them white men, who had once been Democratic voters. In many respects, Dean had a record as governor very much in the mold of Clinton himself. Stupidly, Republicans refused to distinguish between Dean and his politics and the politics of his netroots supporters and insisted on portraying Dean as a left-wing fanatic.[….]
A depressing truth about the enduring power of Bushism is that Bushism satisfies most of the major factions in the party in one way or another. During the last primary contest, McCain represented the general continuation of Bushism, and both Romney and Huckabee were basically presenting themselves as adherents of Bushism who also had executive experience. All signs right now point to a 2012 field that offers the same choices.
(Larison also demolishes the idea that withdrawl from Afghanistan will energize conservatives.)
This is exactly right. Also too, style and temper play a key role in this. Dean got left-wing activists going not so much with what he said as with how he said it. A friend of mine has a joke that in a low level math class, you prove a theorem by repeating it loudly. Likewise, you fire up activists by repeating your positions loudly, no matter if they differ all that much from other candidates’ positions. Perhaps this is less true on the right, where genuinely out-there positions are more acceptable, but Scott Brown captured Erick Erickson’s heart with the truck and the “people’s seat”, not with his socially moderate political positions.
A skilled politician knows how to rally the troops without making the natives restless. It worked for Bush in 2000– George Jesus for the snake-handlers, genial ol’ compassionate conservative Dubya for the undecided voter. It worked for my old friend Eric Massa, too, who had local liberal activists convinced his bloviatory opposition to the Health Care Bill was part of a principled drive for single-payer, not a blatant suck-up to conservatives in his district.
Anyway, Larison is right: Republicans will probably run someone with the same positions as George W. Bush in 2012. The only question is whether it will be an angry, activist-friendly Dubya or a conciliatory, Broder-friendly Dubya.