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.
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?
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.