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Politics / OPINION

The GOP Civil War Is Now a Class War

November 12, 2012

Republicans warned that President Obama's reelection would bring about more class warfare, and it has, but not in the way they predicted: Elite conservative thought leaders are blaming the party's riffraff for the GOP's unhappy Election Day while the riffraff blames the conservative elite for not being conservative enough. No, you were not paranoid for thinking all that preelection talk about "Walmart moms" and "waitress moms" sounded a little condescending.

Writing at Politico, Rep. Steve LaTourette says poor Republican voters are suffering under false consciousness. No really, he says that. He says they've been brainwashed, like in The Manchurian Candidate

Republican primary voters were conditioned by these ultra conservative special interest groups into believing the way that we could change a Washington crippled by partisanship was by nominating even more bitterly partisan candidates.

 

One problem the Republican Party faces is the conservative media cocoon, Politico's Jonathan Martin reports. Sure, you expect the riffraff to be drawn to wild conspiracy theories -- Ron Paul's allies famously worked to win over the "rednecks," explaining the origin of his racist newsletters in the 1990s. But now some worry that those rank-and-file party members are rubbing off on the richer, smarter people. Martin writes:

The tension between the profit- and ratings-driven Right — call them entertainment-based conservatives — and conservatives focused on ideas (the thinkers) and winning (the operatives) has never been more evident.…

And the entertainers’ power isn’t just with gullible grassroots activists who are likely to believe whatever nefarious rumor about Obama is forwarded to them in an e-mail chain — it’s with donors, too.

Outside of Washington, New York, and state capitals, the big conservative givers are as likely to have read Ed Klein’s Obama book and seen Dinesh D’Souza’s documentary 2016, and generally parrot whatever they just heard on Fox News as the old lady stuffing envelopes at county GOP headquarters.

The riffraff are to blame for Romney doing something so foolish as embracing Donald Trump. New York Times conservative columnist Ross Douthat said of Trump, "It’s like a weird version of identity politics for people who like trash culture and reality TV." Both the Romney campaign and Trump's people saw it that way, too. BuzzFeed's McKay Coppins explained last week that Romney didn't disavow Trump, even as he kept up the birther stuff, because he was afraid of angering the Republican base. Why did the base love Trump? Coppins reports:

"He played very well with blue-collar-type Republicans, and the campaign saw that," said one source in Trump's camp. "If you have no education, and you work with your hands, you like him. It's like, 'Wow, if I was rich, that's how I would live!' The girls, the cars, the fancy suits. His ostentatiousness is appealing to them."

Isn't that sweet? It's a rich person's idea of a poor person's idea of a rich person.

You think the No. 1 group that needed to get out of the media cocoon would be Republican pollsters -- the educated guys paid real money to use real science to help the party win elections. Romney's campaign was confident the unskewed polls were correct, and that they'd win on Nov. 6. In July, Romney campaign spokesman Lenny Alcivar loved the cocoon, saying, "We no longer allow the mainstream media to define the political realities in America. The rise of Breitbart, Drudge and others, combined with an aggressive Romney campaign is a powerful tool in the arsenal of the conservative movement."

That being said, the GOP class war goes both ways. RedState's Erick Erickson writes that Republican consultants who forced Mitt Romney on Republican voters are now trying to blame those voters for his loss:

These people hated our ideas and values when we were winning and now choose this opportunity to sell us out the way they’ve always wanted. The conservative herd is headed off a cliff led by a consultant class that would otherwise now be swimming in pools full of dollar bills like Scrooge McDuck (right).

Iowa evangelical leader Bob Vander Plaats tells The Des Moines Register that the problem was a nominee who was too much like Obama. The Republican Party has long relied on a coalition of wealthy business people and social conservatives. That looks like it's fraying a little bit now that each side is looking to blame the other for Romney's loss. And some want out entirely. Focus on the Family head Jim Daly told McClatchy, "If the Christian message has been too wrapped around the axle of the Republican Party, then, A) that's our fault, and, B) we've got to rethink that."

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