Retiring Republican Senator George Voinovich lashed out recently at the Southern influence on the GOP. As Steve Benen noted, while Voinovich didn’t make the point very tactfully, the GOP has become a regional party. Where I think Benen goes wrong is this (italics mine):
Voinovich will no doubt get slammed for his remarks, but it’s not his fault the party’s power base has become focused on one conservative region.
So whose fault is it? Mine? Benen’s? Of course, this is Voinovich’s fault. He’s a senior senator from a politically critical swing state. While manufacturing has been clobbered over the last two decades, Ohio still makes a lot of stuff.
You didn’t hear Voinovich complaining about the Southern theopolitical right when he rode that wave to a Senate majority. You didn’t hear him complain when Little Lord Pontchartrain was wreaking havoc hither and yon. Let me turn it over to driftglass, who describes the three central realities of the burnt out husk that was once home to Lincoln and Teddy Roosevelt:
1. On issue after issue, the reason things get and stay so completely broken in this country is that Republicans can only get ahead in the Modern GOP by doing the political equivalent of standing on our cultural overpasses and lobbing cinderblocks into rush hour traffic.
2. The more havoc Republicans wreak, the more their base rewards them because the GOP is now mostly made up of zealot Christopaths, bigots, moral imbeciles, gun nuts and the generally cactus-fuck-crazy scum of the nation.
3. Every major media outlet knows the minute they acknowledge the incredibly dangerous reality that 1/3 of the American electorate are zealot Christopaths, bigots, moral imbeciles, gun nuts and the generally cactus-fuck-crazy scum of the nation – and that they are not evenly or randomly distributed across the political spectrum, but instead have been carefully and deliberate recruited en masse by the Right for the last 30 years – they will instantly lose millions of readers, listeners and viewers – along with the billions of dollars in ad revenue that come with them – and will instead be subjected to an around-the-clock cry for their blood by the orc armies of the Right that would make the Kill Bill havoc of the anti-Clinton crusade look like a friendly round of nude Stratego.
While drifty, in #3, was writing about the media, the same applies to Republican politicians: they dare not challenge their base.
This was not an accident. This was not a thunderbolt strike on a clear blue day. This was not a hostile takeover. The Republican base which he decries was invited in. It was courted. The Republican party, rather than relegating the dregs of segregation to the ash heap of history, fed them dishonest pabulum about ‘real Americans.’ This was a deliberate and orchestrated attempt to woo the sons and daughters of segregation and, later, of the Christianist segregation academies.
Voinovich never said a damn thing about the batshit lunatic wing of his party when it mattered. Voinovich never switched his party allegiance. He never declared, never mind acted upon, the conviction that certain ideologies and political beliefs are beyond the pale.
Instead, he profited greatly from this alliance, even if it left a bad taste in his mouth.
Sorry, Benen, this is his fault.