Okay, I’ll admit to using the “Overton Window” because I learned it at Nate’s blog and found it such a charming concept. In essence it means (I think) overshooting your objective so when/if you fall short, the result will still be within acceptable parameters.
This was what Reagan was doing when he advised Republicans to select “the most conservative candidates who could still be elected.” It was advice that stood Republicans in good stead for decades… but now they’ve inexplicably turned their backs on it. The new goal apparently is to select the most conservative candidates on the face of the earth.
As many of you know, I spend much of my time in the dangerous wilderness of Freeperland, studying Freepers in their natural habitat, and I’ve noticed a startling shift in their behavior in recent months. The Freepers no longer care much about winning elections. At the moment they are focused entirely on killing RINO’s. They have two goals, in sequence. First, they want to remake their own party. Having accomplished that, they want to remake the country.
As a result we see this spate of bizarre Tea Party candidates who even make hardened politicos like Karl Rove quake in their tasseled loafers. What is the purpose of shoving Sharron Angle, Christine O’Donnell and Rand Paul in the faces of Americans? Is it some kind of “try it, you’ll like it” strategy on the part of the GOP? I wonder if they really think that once we’ve just had a taste of guns at polling places, women forced to bear their rapists’ babies, segregated swimming pools and criminalization of masturbation, we’ll realize that this is what we’ve been hungering for all along?
I don’t think so.
I think this is really a symptom of the impending death of the far right. It simply cannot survive in the face of increasing diversity, shared knowledge, social mobility and eclectic culture. And here’s another thing… the Republicans are not the rational, thinking party; that label belongs to liberal progressives. The Republicans (at least the extreme “socially conservative” ones) are animated by emotion… fear, anger, suspicion, anxiety, greed, etc. It is a much more primal ethos, governed by a more primitive part of the brain… the part that is geared to survival and quick to sense danger. This sudden paroxysm of extremity on the far right is simply a reflexive reaction to its impending demise. When confronted by danger and impending doom you can fight, you can flee, or you can adapt. The social conservatives have chosen to stand and fight. They may win a battle or two, but the pace of progress is relentless, and they will surely lose the war.
Unless, of course, they can rediscover Reagan and his Overton window, and learn once again to use it to their advantage.