Another return to BlogSpace

May 23, 2012

OK, I’m back.

One more time.

I see my last post was in January, dealing with the Supreme Court’s decision in the Hosanna-Tabor case. An old friend turned up out of the blue a few weeks ago and told me that he read it. Didn’t understand a word. I said that’s fine, religion-clause law doesn’t really make much sense anyway.

So what shall I do now? Well, first of all, admit the obvious: Mitt Romney did manage to lock up the Republican nomination for the Presidency. I didn’t think he’d do it, at least quite so easily, but he did. Money helped, and the support of a lot of party establishment types who feared a Goldwater-scale disaster if they nominated Gingrich or Santorum.

There’s a lot more to say about this; there’s still a lot that isn’t quite so obvious yet, including of course the outcome in November. Here I shall just flag a point or two, which I’ve alluded to before.

The primary campaign, for all the apparent predestination of the result, did take a few interesting turns, not least of all the way Gingrich and Santorum tried briefly to differentiate their evangelical, Christian conservatism from Romney’s pure business-first variety. For just a moment we had a glimpse of an argument over not just which candidate was the most conservative, but whose kind of conservatism was the real, essential conservatism. Romney won the primaries, but the argument may well not be over; President Obama’s recent references to Romney’s business background may well keep alive the doubts of some evangelicals over whether their only decades-old alliance with the laissez-faire movement was really made in heaven. Romney for his part seems determined to make the general election into what most leaders of his party had been successfully avoiding since the 1930’s:  a referendum on the New Deal. Under Bush, the neo-conservatives thought they could make the country forget the legacy of Vietnam; Romney seems to think he can do the same with the Great Depression.

Meanwhile, it appears that one aspect of the Goldwater movement of 1964 – the infiltration of the party organization so that the conservative hard-core could never again be counted out – is being replicated to some degree by the Ron Paul campaign, which didn’t win a single state outright but elected enough people in caucuses to have them percolate into positions of real influence up at the state level, not only in the presidential nominating process but in lower-level nominations and party offices. For a while it looked like the Paul and Romney supporters were co-operating, in at least a few caucus states, to keep Santorum out; but now the Paulists are out to win all they can for themselves.

All very interesting indeed. I hope to be back over the next few days with more about the elections, as well as my other favorite topics.

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