For decades, the Republican Party has been sustained by an alliance between business conservatives and social conservatives. The former have provided funding and ideas while the latter have provided the manpower and votes.
Recently, though, the alliance has become strained. The Republican Party has always been the party of big business—whenever the Republicans took power, the corporate cons got their way first. And even though the social conservatives labored for years to elect Republicans, they ended up with little to show for it—gay marriage is legal in three states, civil unions are expanding, abortion is still legal, etc.
For six years, the GOP controlled all three branches of the federal government. And while corporate tax cuts, tax cuts for the wealthy and deregulation all happened, the social conservative agenda barely got touched (except for a few gay marriage bans in states where gay marriage was already illegal). In 2006, after only a few years in power, the Republicans lost Congress in the wake of corruption and sex scandals.
McCain has always been more of a corporate con than a social conservative–he isn’t trusted by the religious right because he isn’t socially conservative enough. To shore up that particular weak spot, he chose Sarah Palin as his running mate; the McCain-Palin ticket was designed to be a fusion ticket representing both major GOP factions.
But as the McCain-Palin ticket heads to defeat, there are signs that the cracks in the GOP coalition may blow up into a full-blown civil war, and McCain and Palin will be the proxies through which the civil war will be waged. Right now, Palin’s camp is saying that McCain mismanaged her, fed her talking points and didn’t let her be herself, while McCain’s camp is saying Palin was unprepared, went off-message and came off as a ‘whack job.’
As it stands, both factions have been equally discredited—the financial crisis ruined the corporate cons while the social conservatives are failing to do their duty and out-organize the Democrats. Still, both sides will claim to be the heir to Reaganism, since Reaganism was a combination of both factions’ philosophies.
Who will win? That’s impossible to tell, at least right now. But no matter what, the GOP will have a major bloodletting, which will be entirely deserved—conservatives created this monster; let them live with the consequences.
UPDATED: See this:
Allies of Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin are now trying to throw McCain aide Nicolle Wallace under the proverbial bus, and as they do so those in McCain’s circle are wary of the impact on Sen. John McCain, R-Ariz., himself.