Even before the Bush crowd falls flat next Tuesday, Republicans are developing their own AntiThesis to the rising Democratic Thesis based on open source principles of openness, connectivity and consensus.
This comes in two parts:
- Southern Exurbanisn — I follow this closely at voic.us. Republicans are actually doing well throughout the 9-state southeastern region covered by this site. Their strength is based on a mixture of business and social conservativism, with the former group leading. Real estate developers, road builders, doctors, and landowners are the chief force here. One person who deserves special mention, whom you have never heard of, is Glenn Richardson (above), speaker of the Georgia House. He has managed a local version of the K Street Project, leading to the creation of enormous slush funds in the hands of leading legislators, and leading Democratic legislators to switch parties. Absent a direct challenge, you can expect him to be Georgia’s Governor in 2011 and, perhaps, a Presidential contender for 2012.
- Big State Moderation — Republicans are now expected to sweep statewide offices in Florida, but with a different message. It’s a more moderate message, led by Gubernatorial candidate Charlie Crist. The model here is Arnold Schwarzenegger. Big state Republicans have already learned how to lean against the Democratic Thesis, much as Governors Earl Warren and Goodwin Knight did during the New Deal era, in order to hold power.
It will be very hard for Republicans to hold this new party
together. The Southern wing is very conservative, and very regional.
It’s really a question of whether the Southerners will tolerate the
Already, there are signs that this is marriage is not going to be
easy. One story I covered at voic.us involved a right-wing attack site
on RINOs (Republicans In Name Only) in South Carolina, complete with a
wrestling figure. The idea was to run these folks out. Despite this
Civil War within their party, South Carolina Republicans are expected
to sweep the statewide offices.
The guess here is that it will take some time before the Southern
Exurbans allow themselves to be led by the Big State Moderates. This is
normal when a party’s Thesis is destroyed and it goes into the
wilderness. The first instinct is always to blame others and
counter-attack, with another candidate who expresses the old Thesis more
- George McGovern in 1972 expressed Democratic liberalism more clearly than Humphrey had.
- Alf Landon in 1936 expressed Midwestern Republicanism more clearly than Herbert Hoover had.
- William Jennings Bryan was re-nominated by the Democrats in 1900 and 1908, despite his 1896 loss.
- George McClellan was nearly elected President in 1864, on a platform of accomodation. He would have won, too, if Sherman hadn’t taken Atlanta.
That’s the way it usually goes.