Jim Borghesani: In order to keep the differences between the parties stark and vivid, the right-wing megaphones need to keep firing loud and hot. In this photo: Conservative talk show host Rush Limbaugh in Washington, Tuesday, Jan. 13, 2009. (Ron Edmonds/AP)

The post-mortems in the wake of the Republican humiliation on Nov. 6 should have Democrats a tad nervous. Up until Election Day, the anti-science, anti-intellectual, anti-compromise tenets of the GOP were unassailable. Now some cracks are emerging in the Koch brothers-Fox News-Karl Rove edifice.

Sean Hannity has “evolved” on immigration reform. Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal thinks the GOP should stop being the “stupid party.” Bill Kristol is calling for tax hikes.

Democrats should pray for the continued popularity of airwave avatars who continue to believe that the Democrat’s smackdown of the GOP occurred because Mitt Romney was too moderate.

The Democrats have to kill these glints of rationality in their infancy.

It’s been a great ride for the simplistic anti-everything mantra of the hard right, and now that the ride has led the GOP straight off a cliff, the Democrats have to find more and higher cliffs from which Republicans can plummet.

In short, Democrats should pray for the continued popularity of Rush Limbaugh, Michael Savage, Glenn Beck and all the other airwave avatars who continue to believe that the Democrat’s smackdown of the GOP occurred because Mitt Romney was too moderate. Who continue to believe that the Republicans should hold firm against tax hikes for the wealthy. Who continue to believe that old white men should hold sway over women’s bodies and immigrants’ dreams.

Consider this: You’re the ruler of a country with a modernized military. You have plans to invade your neighbor using state-of-the-art weapons, but leaders there are arguing wars should still be fought with spears and axes. Would you do anything to quiet those voices?

Barack Obama’s greatest challenge now is to garner enough Republican votes to move his tax plan forward while ensuring that the core Tea Party ideology remains vibrant as the mid-term elections draw near. This would be a neat trick, like a spider keeping a vanquished fly alive as it slowly feeds on it. For whatever headaches Tea Partiers have given Democrats, they’ve bestowed far more gifts — Todd Akin and Richard Mourdock were this cycle’s offerings — and Democrats need to keep that gift train a-rollin’.

So how do the Democrats keep the right-wing megaphones firing loud and hot?

What to do about Gov. Bobby Jindal, pictured, and other nervous conservatives with breakout fantasies? Tarnish them among moderates while Limbaugh and company savage them within the base. It’s worked beautifully so far. (Cheryl Gerber/AP)

Push as often as possible on issues that drive the right crazy. Focus on the economy and jobs, but don’t pass up opportunities to address climate change, or to support contraceptive coverage, or to oppose abstinence-only education or to invest in infrastructure. Basically, keep doing things most Americans support and most right-wing shouters abhor.

Also, don’t allow deathbed conversions by more quick-footed conservatives like Jindal to go unchallenged. This is the man, after all, who tried in 2009 to block the EPA from issuing its global warming regulations, and who the year before signed the Louisiana Science Education Act, which allowed “supplemental textbooks” promoting creationism to be brought into classrooms.

Democrats should have a playbook on Jindal and other nervous conservatives with breakout fantasies. Tarnish them among moderates while Limbaugh and company savage them within the base. Then hope for a primary fight from a Tea Party challenger.

It’s worked beautifully so far.

The ultimate post-2012 goal for Democrats is to keep the differences between the parties stark and vivid. Republicans, with their spectacularly unworried lurch to the far right made this easy for a while. But some smarter GOPers have glimpsed the gallows and are creeping toward the middle, making future comparisons murkier.

As appalled as Democrats may be by the excess and success of people like Limbaugh, Beck and Savage, right now it’s Limbaugh, Beck and Savage who are shouting down any Republican attempts to heed the 2012 drubbing and adapt to the new American demographic.

Those shouts should fill Democrats with joy.

Tags: Barack Obama, Election 2012, Mitt Romney

The views and opinions expressed in this piece are solely those of the writer and do not in any way reflect the views of WBUR management or its employees.

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  • Prash

    Is this guy serious? What does he mean by “The Democrats have to kill these glints of rationality in their infancy.”?

    I think it is the opposite … everyone should embrace this rationality and let Republicans, Democrats, Independents, everyone to come to an understanding of what is and what isn’t and work towards a solution. Yes, there will always be differences in opinions and if some are working towards changing their opinions for the better, it is a good thing. If the anti-everything party is thinking of correcting its stances, it is a good thing. I, for one, can’t seem to fathom this commentary of keeping these (Hanity-Limbaugh-Norquist) ridiculous notions going just to score some political points.

    The more Republicans come towards Democrats’ points of view, the better. I support coming to a solution by inclusion rather than division.

    • Tom Brown

      I think there’s a touch of sarcasm in the piece. He’s criticizing the far right extremists with a bit of humorous adivce as a died in the wool Democratic partisan. The thing is, the sarcasm is thin and this could actually be used as advice for Democratic party strategists. However, I get the strong impression that the author would actually be very happy if the Republican Party came to it’s senses like it did back in the late 1960s when the kicked the far right lunatic fringe John Birch Society (“Birchers”) OUT of respectable conservative circles. Today, Fox News, Limbaugh, Ted Nugent, Levin, Savage (the mainstream of the “hard right”) warmly embraces the modern equivalent of the Birchers: the “birthers.” There’s nothing equivalent to on the left: The left isn’t currently letting it’s lunatic fringe define their core beliefs and policies. An example: you do not see every other guest on MSNBC advocating the “9-11 truther” lunacy (the mirror image on the left of the lunatic right’s “birther” crankery).

    • JJ Dean

      I don’t think this guy is talking about what’s good for the country. He’s talking about what’s good for Democrats. And I think he means that Democrats should want the Republican policies that led to that party’s defeat on election day to stay in place so that Democrats can continue to be victorious against Tea Party ideology. Which, when you think of it, is good for the country after all.

  • Carl Shapiro

    The position of the Democratic leadership on immigration is not necessarily one of rationality. Mass immigration really does take jobs from the most deprived US citizens, as well as reducing their wages. For more on that, see Nicholas Kristof’s column, “compassion that hurts”

    It also is a major environmental problem. We are the major industrialized nation with the greatest per capita resource use, most immigrants come from countries with relatively tiny per capita ecological footprints, and the average immigrant’s greenhouse emissions rise fourfold after arrival here (Center for Immigration Studies, 2008). Mass immigration has contributed around 50 million people to the US population over the last 20 years, and will contribute another ~110 million by midcentury (Pew Research Center, 2008), and our failure to stabilize our population is undermining efforts to reduce our ghg emissions. Sure, you can wave your arms and say, everyone needs to cut their energy use, but it’s something that can’t happen overnight when so much of the problem is infrastructure, the size of our country, etc. People are not going to seriously curb their meat eating (more ghg emitted than from cars), or their driving unless forced to, they’re not going to insulate their homes unless the government makes it much less expensive, etc.) Even if the political planets were aligned, it would be a major, major, major undertaking, but Waxman-Markey failed.

    Finally, the notion that the votes of Americans of Hispanic extraction turn on so-called comprehensive immigration reform come from ignorance. 69 percent of our Hispanic citizens actually support mandatory nationwide E-Verify, the system for determining immigration status of prospective employees (Pulse Opinion Research, 10/2012).

    More on that:

  • JJ Dean

    Absolutely right…keep the Republican fringe alive and well so the party can continue to disintegrate and Democrats can maintain the majority in the Senate and take control of the House. The GOP obstructionism of the past four years isn’t going to end, in my opinion. The Democrats have proven beyond any doubt that their ideas, their direction and their support of gays, women, climate change science–and, most of all, the middle class–is in step with the American electorate.

  • jeri

    Borghesan, what about the lunatics on MSNBC?

    • Tom Brown

      As a former Republican, I can tell you that MSNBC and Fox News are not mirror images. While it’s true that MSNBC is dominated by liberals (with a couple of mild conservatives thrown in for good measure) and Fox News is dominated by “conservatives” with a couple of weak tea liberals thrown in for laughs. The thing is Fox is a ratings hound, and they’re the tail (along w/ talk radio) that’s been waging the dog. They are much more interested in ratings than “conservatism.” There’s a strong market for lunacy on the right, and while there’s certainly lunacy on the left, there’s not much of a market for it. A mirror image of MSNBC on the right would be more in the George Will, David Frum, David Brooks, William F. Buckley direction. Buckley was famous for kicking the John Birch (“Birchers”) society OUT of respectable conservative circles. The equivalent of the Birchers today (although the Birchers still exist) is the birthers. Fox News warmly embraces birthers and other lunatic fringe because there’s a whole viewership out there that likes conspiracy theories, and likes all news to be slanted in a simplistic direction. So what is the mirror image of Fox News on the left? Those would be the 9-11 “truthers” who believe George Bush blew up the WTC, not Al-Qeda. There’s a market for that kind of nonsense, but thankfully it’s small. They DO NOT have their own network. If the market get’s big enough for left wing lunacy, you can be sure that Rupert Murdoch will be there to capitalize on it! That’s his specialty.

      • maryanne

        Tom Brown, I can’t believe I’m even acknowledging your comments. Are you out of your mind? Your opinions are laughable and obviously bias and pro-left wing.
        “A mirror image of MSNBC on the right would be more in the George Will” – To say the MSNBC lineup of Bashir, Mathews, Sharpton, Shultz, Maddow and O’Donnell are likened to George Will and William F. Buckley is absolutely mind-boggling. You obviously don’t watch the station or you are so blinded by your bias that you can’t see straight! All these people do every day is attack and demean non democrats in a very extreme way. What an insult. There’s so much more to say about this but I’m guessing your not one to view alternative opinions. Thank you for the Monday laugh. Wow.

      • juliejones

        What a bunch of garbage. The funniest part is you thought this out.
        Yea, when I see Ed Shultz, I think of William F Buckley…lol.
        Tom Brown, you are an idiot.

  • Sinclair2

    The radical right-wing fringe like Limbaugh, Beck, Hannity, Savage and Norquist will always be with us. They began as border collies who later turned into mountain lions.

  • NotWhiteyBulger

    I see the author’s overall point. Republican pundits like Limbaugh (and the attention whore Donald Trump) have ruined the credibility of the party with their political hyperbole. It allows the left to paint them as fools. But it is false to assume that the Democratic party is the party of rational thought. And you haven’t listened to Limbaugh or Beck… because that’s NOT why they’re saying Romney lost. But declaring your opponent’s position without knowing the true facts is part of “rational” Democratic thinking.

    Joe Biden is not an intellectual giant. It’s just his stupid comments gets swept under the rug.

    The Democrats won this year because their machine was superior that the Repubs. Plain and simple. It’s politics. It’s not about the merit or ideas. It’s how much you can paint the other guys as scumbags… and about getting out your vote. While promising the world along the way.

    Republicans will resurge in the mid term elections because they will get their machine in order. And the fresh faces emerging from the GOP, will lead the party where it needs to be and appeal to a broader base of voters.

    • massappeal

      Just for the record, the last two presidents to run budget surpluses were Lyndon Johnson and Bill Clinton, both Democrats.

      Also for the record, George W. Bush inherited record surpluses and the prospect of the entire US federal debt being paid off around the end of his second term. Then he pushed through two massive tax cuts, fought two wars without paying for them, and created a major new health care entitlement (Medicare Part D) without paying for it either. (Paul Ryan and company happily voted for all of it.)

  • Bedford Crenshaw

    Romney’s problem was being meek. Idiots like the author want to believe that Rush hurts the GOP, when he absolutely doesn’t.

  • NamePick

    Very funny essay, sort of. The crazy right controls a major party and that is scary. They can win then trash the economy, repress freedom, and wage war. It can happen here, I’m telling you my dear. Much better that they go away and the country gets smarter and nicer.

  • ecfl

    That is a very cynical opinion piece. If the objective is to win; then I agree with him. But for most of us the objective is to be right; not win. I will be totally happy to collaborate with Republicans and support their campaigns if they develop a “new religion” of rationality and fairness and freedom. All of America is better off if ideologues like Hannity, Limbaugh, Norquist, and Beck go away. I don’t include Rove or Gingrich or Romney because I’ve never believed they are ideologues, but they are dangerous for different reasons because they will say or believe anything to win in order enrich their supporters. Saxby is the first and I am writing him a check this week. Maybe even John McCain will return from the abyss. I expect others will follow and begin labeling Norquist as ignorant. I look forward to a renewed era of statesmanship.

  • Steve

    Sadly, the democrats don’t need Rush Limbaugh and the Republicans don’t need Nancy Pelosi, Harry Reid, Anderson Cooper, Joe Biden, Bill Clinton, or Barack Obama. Just look at how a blog post like the one above insights us, read the hatred, animosity, bigotry, and anger in the words below. No, Rush Limbaugh could retire tomorrow, and the hatred, animosity, and party bigotry would continue. Why, because there are thousands of Jim Borghesani’s in this country looking to insight the next virtual riot. Wake Up America! The presidential election was won 50% to 47% of the popular vote. Jim isn’t here to help, if this article is any indication of his intent, then his intention is insight you and keep you divided. Who needs Rush Limbaugh?

  • Joe Johnston

    A Democracy is government by the people, not by one party. Is it too much to ask that we have two rational, compelling parties both working for the common welfare? I appreciate that in the US, we have not had this in a long time.