First, let’s separate the wheat from the chaff here. There are a lot of moderate conservatives out there. At one time, looking across the Republican savanna one could expect to see healthy, good-sized herds of McCain types. Conservative meant (at the time) something very different than it does today.
Then Karl Rove, the sacred cow of the new Republican Party, eating a new type of feed littered with a kind of nam-shub (See Snow Crash above, something similar to a meme) served up by then Republican-of-the-hour Newt Gingrich. Reach out to the (at the time) fringe Republicans, those people who felt the John Birch Society was a bunch of fellow-traveling, commie pinkos! In other words, wed moderate Republicans with the closest thing this country has to real fanatics.
Of course that was stage one. Next, after appealing to arch-conservatives in the political/economic realm, they needed to pull in the arch-conservative Christians. Lastly, they needed to appeal – somehow – to the Great Semi-Washed of America – those people whom the Republican party historically (since the late 1880s) that had looked down its aristocratic nose at.
It worked. Right up to 2005.
Now we are witnessing the unraveling of Rove’s admittedly brilliant political tapestry. It was bound to happen.
The main-line Republican Party is, in the final analysis a professional politicians' party, as is the Democratic Party. Their job is to get re-elected. Since the majority of Americans are only mildly conservative (the litmus test being the polling on Roe v. Wade for example), the wedding of moderate, middle America (whom, despite the rhetoric, Bush & Co. know they have to appeal to mainly) and the more rabid, fanatical elements of the far right was bound to end in the fray we see today.
What middle America, the slightly conservative, buy-America-if-you-can-and-if-its-a-good-buy-and-won’t-fall-apart, pick-up driving, just-want-to-get-home-and-have-a-cold-one, not-sure-about-Wal-Mart-as-a-colossal-entity-but-the-price-is-right kind of guy or gal IS and what everyone keeps missing is that sure, we’re worried about schools, sure we’re worried about what seems to be an increasing lack of morality in society, sure there’s a lot of things we’re concerned about/worried about BUT in the end, we know you cannot legislate morality.
Bush may be an idiot - who am I kidding – he is an idiot – but the machine that elected him isn’t. The machine knew that there was no way to please the Beast they’ve chained themselves to. And now they’re paying the price.
It will be both frightening and fascinating to watch what happens over the next few years.