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The GOP has got to love the 'big state' strategy

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starroute Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sat Mar-08-08 10:54 AM
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The GOP has got to love the 'big state' strategy
I was doing a kind of thought experiment last night -- a "what would I be plotting if I were Karl Rove" sort of thing -- trying to anticipate what GOP strategy might be going forward from 2008.

My first assumption was that Bush has pretty well crapped them up for this year's elections, and any GOP strategist who isn't caught up in the thick of things has to recognize that. McCain may seem scary at the moment, but in the long run his nomination will be recognized as a classic "give the old man his gold watch on the way out" gesture. There will be no October Surprise, no martial law, and Bush and Cheney will simply go peacefully into that good night.

Given that assumption -- and since this is a thought experiment, I do want to take it as given and not argue about it -- the GOP can't truly count on holding much more than the Deep South, and maybe Utah and Wyoming, next fall. Everything else is up for grabs. So if I were Karl Rove, I'd be jumping ahead to the question of how to put the Republican Party back together again for 2012 and 2016.

The conclusion I came to was that the simplest and most immediately fruitful chess strategy would be to encourage the Democrats to cling to their traditional base in the old financial and industrial states of the Northeast and Midwest. Those states are losing population -- especially young people -- losing their economic underpinnings, and losing their viability as a political core. The votes may still be there for the Democrats, but the vitality and prosperity that are needed to fuel national campaigns are draining away.

I would then look around for what areas might be picked off in 2012 on the basis of whatever disillusionment will inevitably occur in the wake of a 2008 Democratic landslide. The more conservative and impoverished areas of states like Ohio and Pennsylvania might be vulnerable to religious and demagogic appeals, making it possible to chip away around the edges of the "big states." Or, on the other hand, if the federal government could be painted as spending too much to try to prop up the old industrial areas, that might be a wedge issue to pry loose the West and upper Midwest.

Finally, I would take whatever states could be corralled in 2012 and use them by 2016 as the core of a new GOP power center. Ideally, that would mean rounding up the areas that will by then be emerging as the forefront of a new economy based on alternative energy sources and selling them on a retooled version of small-government, pro-corporate libertarianism. Call that the Ron Paul-lite strategy, if you will.

But the key to that sort of GOP strategy would be keeping the Democrats effectively bottled up in their traditional, and increasingly declining, power centers. Conversely, if the Democrats are able to use the 2008 election to break the mold and force a permanent geographical realignment, the GOP is left without a leg to stand on.

Under that scenario, the Democrats hold the key to the alternative-energy economy, while the Republicans wind up stuck in the Deep South with no easy way to break out and regain national standing. Call that the Mike Huckabee strategy. Small, angry, but without any chance at a broader appeal.

Obviously, this is just a thought experiment, and both the Ron Paul version and the Mike Huckabee version of the GOP's future are highly idealized cases. But I do believe that actual GOP strategists may be thinking along these same lines -- and that they want nothing more than to whisper in the Democrats' ears, "Yes, go along with the 'big states' strategy. Those are your voters. They will love you forever. You must stand by them. Do not let them down."

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annabanana Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sat Mar-08-08 11:45 AM
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1. Interesting.
Do you think that Rove will cut the oilmen loose? Or do you think that the writing on the wall is big enough that the energy companies (the important repug base) will throw enough $ at alternative energy to make that profitable enough to keep them on board?

Anyway, I think that letting any "part" of the Country get away from Democratic interest would be a mistake.
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