Friday, 2 July 2004

An uncivil war

Dan Drezner and Alex Knapp have staked out positions roughly around Andrew Sullivan’s belief that there’s a coming civil war in the GOP.

Both Dan and Sullivan, however, make the classic “hammer-nail” mistake: Sullivan expects a rift over cultural issues—gay marriage and the like—while Dan expects it to be over foreign policy (and, to a lesser extent, budget issues). Both, I think, underestimate the elite consensus among the Republicans in Congress to tolerate socially conservative positions and spending increases (so long as they keep Bush in the White House) and overestimate the salience of foreign policy issues to the rank-and-file in Congress. If Bush loses, chances are many of the “moderate” Republicans will lose too—moderates tend to be in more competitive House seats—so, if anything, a Bush loss should lead to a more coherent and socially conservative party, who no doubt will be determined to make a Kerry administration the least productive administration in American history.

On the other hand, should Bush be re-elected, one suspects he will be more concerned with his legacy—and, by then, with an economic recovery underway he should be able to make the tax cuts quasi-permanent without restraining domestic spending. Since, rhetortic aside, there are surprisingly few Republicans on the Hill who care about spending restraint (that’d be Ron Paul and, er, uh, Ron Paul), this outcome seems unlikely to result in a GOP fissure either.

So, wishful thinking aside, I don’t think any of this will happen.

1 comment:

Any views expressed in these comments are solely those of their authors; they do not reflect the views of the authors of Signifying Nothing, unless attributed to one of us.
[Permalink] 1. James Haney wrote @ Sat, 3 Jul 2004, 10:55 pm CDT:

Good post, Chris.

I’m wondering if any of the people postulating a Republican party civil war have ever attended a Republican county convention or similar events.

I’ve met anti-war Republicans at these events. Very few of them are anti-Bush. And the ones who are anti-Bush were the ones with “I support Reagan’s speeches” bumper stickers back in the 80s. They didn’t represent looming civil war back then, and they don’t now.

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