Here’s what I was trying to say last night on Twitter.
Christine O’Donnell’s upset win in the Delaware primary is not the sign of a political realignment. It’s just not. So what is it? It is part of the stabilizing mechanism of two-party politics. It indicates not that the GOP is dying, but that it’s going through a sort of eyewall replacement.
Every so often, a party nominates an unelectably extreme candidate, possibly because it’s deliberately testing the waters, though often it happens by accident. Then the party gets stomped at the general election. One might even say that the Republicans did this with Sarah Palin in 2008, but that a VP nomination didn’t quite have the same teaching power. Of course, it still could, thanks in part to Palin’s own efforts.
The next time around, the party bosses — who tend to lack all principles whatsoever — will move the whole apparatus to the center, where it can win the general election. How? With every single means at their disposal, and these are still extensive. You can see them at work even now, quietly trying to scuttle a Palin candidacy. The median voter theorem may not be in the front of Christine O’Donnell’s mind, or of Sarah Palin’s — neither shows much evidence of having considered it — but it isn’t entirely their party. Not by a long shot. The elites still bring things back to the center.
All of which is only as good or as bad as the American political center.
In the center, no one’s much concerned about social conservative issues, which is nice. Sure. The center is solidly pro-masturbation. But the center has no solutions for our entitlement crises, for our growing national debt, for our foreign wars, for the even larger problems of the century ahead. In the center of American politics, torture is either the greatest thing since the American flag, or else … huh, what? …