What if Barack Further Divides the GOP?
I saw a poll a couple of days ago that said about half of self-proclaimed conservatives believe Barack will be able to address the nation's economic woes. We know that the campaign has said there will be a sizeable number of Republicans in the administration, and there's still a belief out there that Barack wants to be and could be a post-partisan president.
If Barack governs in a centrist, pragmatic way, he could peel off even more Republicans and neutralize the hard right, making it much harder for our party to unite any time soon.
Here's Ron Brownstein in the National Journal today:
In his attack on Obama's appointment of Rahm Emanuel as White House chief of staff and in a belligerent recent Washington Post op-ed in which he promised to start "vigorously fighting ... [Obama's] far-left agenda," Boehner signaled that he is adopting a shoot first, aim later strategy driven by the Right's demand for scorched-earth resistance.
If congressional Republicans follow Boehner and conservative militants like Rush Limbaugh down such a path, they could allow Obama to build alliances with the most-pragmatic elements of the GOP and the business community at a time when the Republican coalition is already contracting.
To seize that opportunity, Obama would need to overcome the objections of liberal Internet activists who are condemning as capitulation any effort to find accommodation with Republicans or the interests they represent. But outreach from Obama wouldn't be a form of altruism, much less a concession to the post-election conservative insistence that America remains a right-tilting country. Instead, it would be a hard-headed strategy for expanding his own coalition by dividing the GOP's. Systematically reaching out beyond his core supporters is Obama's best hope of advancing his policy agenda and of delivering on his overarching promise to bridge America's partisan and ideological divides.
From my perspective, I'm ok with Barack taking such a "hard-headed strategy" that could expand his support at the expense of the GOP leadership. I guess I'm even hoping for this. Let Boehner and Limbaugh continue to bitch and moan; if Barack is delivering the goods in a centrist manner, getting the economy on track and our image improved internationally, I'd be willing to wait eight years for a Republican revival.