A Lord of the realm, a well known conservative, once telephoned a London newspaper in a rage. He complained that the paper had published his obituary. The editor asked, "Just where are you calling from?"
The latest measurement of Republican deterioration comes from Gallup:
The decline in Republican Party affiliation among Americans in recent years is well documented, but a Gallup analysis now shows that this movement away from the GOP has occurred among nearly every major demographic subgroup.
The defection of Arlen Specter has largely been derided by conservative writers as crass self-seeking expedience. They are right about the opportunism, wrong in dismissing it. That the switch is an opportunity at all is a result of a mass migration of less extreme Pennsylvania Republicans to the ranks of ex-Republicans. The base is shrinking and, as Specter explained with wide eyed artlessness, he did not want to be judged by the extreme remnants who remain.
Governor Jon Huntsman of Utah is distinct from most Republican office holders. He has abandoned many cultural issues. He is for gay rights. He is for action on the climate crash. He looks for common ground on abortion. He is distinct in another way as well. He is phenomenally popular. While it is true that he is a Republican holding office in one of the most Republican states in the nation, we cannot dismiss an election with 78 percent of the vote. His has a voice to be considered.
Well, perhaps not to be considered by everyone. Michigan conservatives waged a successful campaign to for the GOP in the western part of the state to dis-invite the Governor from speaking. "Kent County's principled stand sends a strong message nationwide that grass roots conservatives will not embrace liberals who want to abandon the GOP platform's commitment to traditional family values." Soon after, Huntsman accepted Obama's offer of an Ambassador to China.
There is an ebb and flow to political tides. Patterson is down in New York. So is Dodd in Connecticut. Reid is shaky in Nevada. Perry is backtracking on his crazed talk of Texas secession. McConnell and Bunning are feuding in Kentucky. But some events go to the direction of the tide itself. Pennsylvania and Michigan events are not decisive, but they are harbingers. They come not from strategists who can easily take another direction. They come from the grassroots of a restive rightwing.
There are many bellwether locations now, and they all point in the same direction. Only a few conservative voices are challenging the extreme conservative base: Just where are you calling from?
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