The Bachman/Paul victories bode ill for the GOP. Bachmann, despite the unfairness of the Newsweek cover, IS CRAZY, in a non-clinical sense. Ron Paul is quixotic, as are all Libertarians. No one with any capacity to govern came close to the top, not Romney, not Pawlenty.
What this shows is that the Republican base, that which shows up at straw polls and caucuses, is made up of radicals, in the true sense of the word, not extremists but radicals. As an aside, let me say I wish Liberals and Progressives (different) would stop slinging words around freely and make sure they know what they mean and what their impact is. Above, I qualified my use of the word ’crazy’ as non-clinical. I can’t diagnose Bachmann despite over 10 years working in a psychiatric clinic, anymore than the Tennessee senator, Dr. Bill Frist could diagnose Terry Schiavo. Nevertheless, she is bizarre and off the charts, so we will use the term ’crazy’ loosely.
The Ron Paul folks are those who believe society can be organized around competent individuals who can provide for themselves. Society is not organized like that, so Libertarianism doesn’t work, no matter how fervently Libertarians wish it were otherwise. Ron Paul, like Ralph Nader, Jesse Ventura, Ross Perrot, and other figures who streak across the electoral sky, sounds and looks very good, even convincing, until you begin watching them work with real people. In fact, I’m not sure mavericks (shades of my AZ senator John McCain) can master the art of politics with so much energy spent in opposition and contrariness. The “system” sucks you in exactly b/c it requires so much from you for you to be able to work within it. I’m not sure co-opting is the word, but it comes close.
When looking at the straw poll, we have to determine whether those polled represented fairly, evenly, the face of the Republican Party. If it reflects even a minority, it is a strong minority, forming what some all the GOP base. That’s interesting b/c the base of the GOP has to be the big money people who don’t take kindly to being challenged or being exposed. Let the Tea Partiers do it, take the bumps, the raps, just like the Klan did the dirty work of the White citizens of the South. Let them do their crazy thing to attract voters and register them. It has led the Republicans into a morass: millions of Evangelical Christians who believe any compromise is a betrayal of God, Fundamentalists who do not recognize the legitimacy of a government that doesn’t promote Christian prayer in public schools and incarcerate homosexuals, and Rightists whose paranoid fantasies dominate their political thinking. Trying to reconcile these folks, representing millions of valuable votes, with the core of the GOP, the big money people, the corporations, Wall Street, the bankers, the owners of production, is close to impossible.
The debt ceiling showdown is a good example: you can just hear Wall Street bankers screaming, “Call the crazies off! You’ll kill us all!!” They want to use these people, humor them, just to get their votes and screw them, but they don’t want to marry them. Now what?