A friend recently observed, watching Mitt Romney’s campaign, that Romney was very similar to John McCain in one significant way. Neither Romney nor McCain resembled, in the final leg of the campaign, the candidates that had made them so attractive in the beginning. Both McCain and Romney had, pre-primary, clear images as relatively moderate candidates with considerable appeal to centrist and moderate voters. If anything, watching Romney debate Ted Kennedy in his 1996 run for the US Senate, one can’t help thinking that he would have made a fine moderate Democrat. Yet the GOP primary process forced both men to recant many of their moderate beliefs, forcing them to dash clumsily for the centre in the general election.
There are plenty of us who have seen this before, where a party is hijacked by its extremist wing. We remember the British Labour Party losing four general elections in a row before it finally confronted the fact that its hard left certainties may have brought comfort to its hardliners, but those same stances alienated the vital centre ground where elections are won. The GOP needs to confront the poisonous influence of the tea party, and the reality that its obsessions are damaging not only to the future of the Republican cause, but more importantly the cause of rational bipartisan compromise upon which the sane and sensible government of the United States and her constitution are based upon.