I have a crazy theory.... [Rick Santorum and Republican leadership]

I think Rick Santorum is moving into a leadership position within the Republican Party.

I’m starting to believe that Rick Santorum never wanted the nomination. I am coming to this conclusion based on his speeches and actions. He did not kowtow to his pollsters or advisers. He did not take the politically safe approach to anything.

I am starting to believe that Rick Santorum sees his future, as quite possibly either the leader of the religious/conservative base in the Republican party, or…or… possibly the leader of a new, splinter party. A true Tea Party.

Think about it. He’s been acting like a recruiter and a poster boy for a certain segment of the population, the very religious, very conservative end of the political spectrum. He has not seemingly bothered at all with the middle of the road republicans who make up the majority. In fact, it appears that he is ignoring them, and refusing to mollify them in any way.

He also continued his campaign well past the point where most others had dropped out. He campaigned aggressively, but looking back, it really feels more like a recruitment drive than a campaign. A “Get to Know Rick” bus tour. He has said so many things that would damage him in the general election that he is basically, unelectable. And he has to know this.

So why did he continue, unless the goal was not to get elected and govern, but something else. Perhaps to be seen as (and thus become) the spokesman for that conservative, religious element of America either within or outside the republican party.

There is no question at this point that the religious conservatives have very serious and deep influence over the republican party.

It seems at this point the best the old guard republican leadership can do is some sort of slow, sweeping turn against the direction they are already heading. Any sharp maneuvering is likely to bring about a structural split in the party. Kind of like a ship with a crack in it’s hull.

The problem for the current leadership is that the people leading this turn know what the current leadership will have to do to reverse course, and so they will use their political attacks ON the party itself. Using someone like Karl Rove to help sink republicans that don’t toe their line as they try to move into positions of power within the party. Consequently, the Tea Party people will move into more and more executive leadership roles, because they are willing to play dirtier, and because they believe that winning is more important than leading.

The “big tent” party is going to become smaller and smaller. Eventually it’s going to take on the dimensions of a pup tent, and Rick Santorum is going to be the official snuggle buddy.

Ultimately, the more extreme the party becomes, the more it drives voters into the arms of the democrats. The remainders are going to be more severe, more committed, and more fanatical, less willing to compromise for any reason.

That would be the faction which is gaining dominance of the Republican party.

And that, would put him into a kingmaker role within the Republican party.

So I want you to imagine a Republican party wherein you have to pass a Santorum ideological test to run for higher office. I think that is the direction they are currently headed.

The question to me is, what will the rest of the party do? The fiscal conservative social liberals who don’t really give a damn about gay marriage, but just want the gov’t to try living within it’s means for once.

I see more of this shaking out after the election. The tea party will blame the old line for the losses they are going to suffer, most especially the big one. The tea party leadership will insist that only more extreme positions are viable to the rank and file grassroots. They will use that position to gain momentum within the party. They will pick a nationally known religious conservative politician to be their front man to the Republican National Committee. Someone who has national exposure. Someone who polled well in a number of states. Someone who actually won some of the primaries… It’ll be Santorum.

So the question is, what is going to happen to the party. Split or have the fiscal conservatives under the yoke of the religious conservatives?

Regards,
-Bouncer-

Great theory. Too bad he can’t seem to get himself elected to anything these days. :slight_smile:

After the 2008 elections, both Huckabee and Palin won cushy gigs at Fox News and on the lecture circuit. This was noticed. The Republican primaries this year were only nominally about the Presidency: that was the conciliation prize. Herman Cain, Michelle Bachmann, Ron Paul and Rick Santorum have all had extra-Presidential motives over the past year.

All this will happen with or without Santorum, and I really can’t see it happening any differently with or without him either. So perhaps he will be a fortunate beneficiary of the rightward lurch, but does it matter? If the party goes to that far to the right, it will have lost relevance.

Norquist seems to be able to lead from behind the scenes just fine.

With your feet in the air and your mind in the gutter

Honestly, if he doesn’t get his job back on FoxNews, I think he’s going to end up running a cult.

There is an ongoing debate among my friends and colleagues about the future of the GOP.
Most of us believe that if Mr. Romney doesn’t win the presidency and if the House majority is lost as well, that there will be a general groundswell against the current fractured leadership.

This could easily lead to a third party who will challenge senatorial and representational position in 2014 and possibly gain national recognition by winning some seats. Imagine a Congress with three parties. Not just the weak-sauce version we have now with two ‘I’ votes. Imagine a house with 10 or 12 people voting for the ‘T’ party. Imagine a senate with 3 ‘T’ party members. I know the internal rules of both the senate and the house will make the voice of these people diminished, but populist fervor can overcome quite a bit of status quo, especially when the status quo of both parties has been so riddled with indecision and really amazingly bad leadership.

The word that comes up regularly among my cohort is ‘Whig’, as in “Remember The Whigs.”

But, I could be wrong. I can tell you that these decisions are not ours (the populace’s) to make. They are made by the men and women in power. Not the Illuminati. The people that actually run the federal government are known individuals. They do not wish the Great Game to be disrupted by any uprising or populist movement. If a new party were to emerge with genuine congressional power, that would upset the apple cart and would royally irritate a great deal of powerful people.

I have wished for a third party since I voted for McGovern. It is a bit disconcerting that the first real possibility in my lifetime for a powerful third party comes from a group of people with whom I feel very little association. But that is what I get for living to see this. I blame me.

Save for the “middle of the road making up the majority” part, I think you’re on solid ground. My guess is that a Romney loss will make the GOP go farther right. Why, because everything makes them go farther right. Lose the White House in 2008? Go farther right. Win the House back in 2010? Go farther right. Lose the White House in 2012? I’m betting on going farther right.

There was the Americans Elect effort. I thought they were getting listed on ballots, but now their site is down until 2013. If a couple of the new young ‘whipper-snapper’ billionaires jumped behind something like this, they might get to a point of pulling reasonable numbers.

If Romney looses, I think at least a couple of these billionaires are going to be upset enough to toss the GOP off and start a new party. They’ve been testing the waters in this cycle. If they can buy the nomination for a guy that almost no one likes and who has no spine, think of how much cheaper it would be to start a new party with a guy who had a brain, a spine and a personality. But, you can bet that anything they start will look like Ayn Rand worship meetings.

If you’re a young whippersnapper billionaire who wants to change the way the country is heading, what’s your plan? Start a brand new party that isn’t going to go anywhere? Or start pulling the strings of the Republican party? If you’ve got a new guy with a brain, a spine, and a personality, there’s a gigantic right-wing money and propaganda machine that already exists to help that guy. It won’t be your puny little billion dollars, it will be the whole right wing media-industrial complex.

This is the reason third parties will never amount to anything. Any potential political superstar is going to take a look around and figure out the best way to actually achieve things. If they want to hold office they are invariably going to choose to work within one of the existing political parties. If they don’t care about holding office, they can head up an independent organization, but that organization is not going to run independent candidates for office, they are going to try to influence public opinion, lobby, and get friendly major party candidates elected.

What they aren’t going to do is run a third party candidacy that gets 15% of the vote. That’s just retarded.

So if Santorum ever runs for office again in the future, he is 100% guaranteed to run as a Republican. He may very well imagine a political future for himself that doesn’t involve running for office. He raised his profile tremendously from his campaign as a Republican presidential hopeful, and he can translate that into lucrative talking-head gigs, book deals, think tank positions, lobbying, and so on. Whether he concentrates more on raking in cash or concentrates on advocacy is up to him.

But what he’s never going to do is run for any office as a third party candidate. Why would he? He’s a Republican. If he thinks the Republican candidate in a race isn’t doing a good job he doesn’t have to run as a third party candidate, he can run as a Republican. And if Santorum is so out of step with the Republican party that he can’t win the Republican primary, then how the fuck is he supposed to win as an independent?

Yes, some people have won office as and independent after losing the major party primary. Those people are called Joe Lieberman. The only reason he could do so was because he was a very long-serving incumbent. A challenger without major party backing is facing a hopeless task.

Because any potential political figure would be crazy not to run under one of the major parties, that means third parties are relegated to cranks. There is never going to be an independent “Tea Party”. Either the Tea Party types will take over the Republicans, or they will remain part of the Republican coalition, or they’ll fade away. Running as a third party would be counterproductive, a three way race between an extreme right-winger, a right-winger, and a liberal means the liberal has a huge advantage. If the goal is to get more right wingers and more extreme right wingers into office, forming an extreme right wing party is the exact wrong thing to do.

The problem I see for the Republicans is allowing them to take over and drag the party to the current extremes or worse. Attempting to drive off Moderates as “RINOS” (including ones who have been Republicans longer than some of those TPAs have been alive!) and demonizing more centrist positions.

The question will not really be “Does the extreme right take over”, but “what do the Moderates do when the extremists do take over and try to marginalize them or kick them out?”

The real interesting thing to see if there is a party split or a new centrist party is what will happen in regions where the Republican party is dominant. Places where the Democrats only offer a token candidate or don’t run one at all.

Well, yes, he is. He was arguably the runner-up to Romney, which means he has some advantages for 2016 if Romney loses.

And here you’re wrong. He ran for president because he wanted to win. I don’t think he thought he had a very good shot at doing so when he started, but he didn’t run just for positioning. And he’s never going to leave the Republican Party. I think the most likely outcome in 2016 is that a bunch of new candidates run - Christie, Rubio, etc. - and the voters forget about the awful crop of candidates they had in 2012. Santorum is hoping that’s not the case, of course. But he wants to be elected as a very conservative nominee. He’s not a compromise candidate.

I’ve expanded the thread title. The Great Debates rules regarding descriptive thread titles also apply in Elections.

The Google Deniers, perhaps.

IMHO the institutional barriers that both major parties have erected effectively marginalize any attempted 3rd party. The people at the State and local level who run elections are party players, they would do everything they could to insure the 3rd party would get only token traction. At the Washington level, committee assignments and caucus memberships would not be easy to come by. Therefore the logical strategy would be continued warring for the “soul” of the established party.

A long term strategy to win enough local and state elections to reach a critical mass would take eons. By then the fire would have shifted or burned out - new concerns would have taken over.

Neither can George Will. Neither can Pat Robertson.

If the OP is suggesting that Santorum is poised to lead ultra-conservatives into a pit where they can be buried and forgotten as irrelevant … I’m not sure that’s true, but I support the general concept.

LOL. Some very good points all around, though I am less quick to dismiss the 3rd Party idea. I know it doesn’t seem possible or practical, but you know what, neither did the Tea Party seem practical or possible. But here they are, and they have overthrown multiple long term Republicans in multiple locations around the country. So in a way, it’s sorta happening already. The Tea Party IS a factor in Republican internal politics, and it’s not that far-fetched to imagine them splitting off. They have billionaires like David Koch backing them.

I suspect that what will happen is that Santorum will take some sort of leadership role at the RNC. He will continue to appoint fellow ultra-conservatives and Tea Party folks and consolidate his power base. He will continue to marginalize the fiscal conservatives in favor of the social conservatives. There won’t be much place for the George Wills’ and the William F. Buckleys’.

By 2016, I think the Republican Party may very likely be a caricature of itself.

Or, it may simply split. The fiscal conservatives may finally stand up to the social ultra-conservatives and tell them to hit the road. That’s… possible. What isn’t possible is for this power fight between the Palin “Truthiness” types and the old guard to continue much longer. The battle has to end, probably by the middle of next year.

Regards,
-Bouncer-

The Tea Party is simply a modern incarnation of the Birchers. There is nothing implausible about a party’s extreme wing primarying a bunch of representatives. Nothing.

Third parties swiftly run into the US’s Winner-take-all voting system though. They are apt to be spoilers, which mean that those who support them end up propping those on the other side of the aisle. Any third party efforts will be along the lines of Lieberman (CT), Sanders (VT) and King (Maine). I would give 2:1 odds that any third party effort in 2014 or 2016 would elect fewer than 4 members to Washington. More than likely, nothing will come of it.

If you want to support 3rd parties, join Brainglutton (and I suppose myself) and make your way to Fairvote.org .

ETA: The Republican Party is already a caricature of itself. The old guard has already lost. Liberals were drummed out in the 1970s and moderates were wholly squelched last decade. What remains in Washington are crazies and those afraid of being primaried by crazies. The loons and the neutered.