Chris Christie & the confused Republican Party

Originally posted at AMERICAblog Elections: The Right’s Field

If there’s one dynamic that has yet to be resolved within the Republican presidential primary, it’s the tension between the demands of the radically conservative Tea Party base and the 51% of Republicans who do not identify as or support the goals of the Tea Party. Presumably a large part of the Republican establishment and media talking heads fall into the 51% that don’t swing the Tea Party’s way. As a result, you get repeated expressions of dissatisfaction from both the far right and the slightly further right for candidates which better fit their ideological vision. Rick Perry was pitched as a savior, yet once he entered he was exposed both as more of a bumbling fool than any non-Texan would have thought and is being damned from the right for his completely sober and responsible notion that if we can stop teenage girls from contracting a virus which causes cancer, we should do it.

Over the last week and a half we’ve seen both Mike Huckabee and Chris Christie discuss entering the primary to fill this void. Most Republicans already know what they’d get with Huckabee – an extremely conservative member of the religious right who also displays some economic populist notes while being slightly to the left of Attila the Hun (and therefore unacceptable) in his immigration stance.

Christie is a different story. While he’s burnished his Republican credentials by aggressively seeking to bust public worker unions in New Jersey, he holds a number of other positions which are anathema to the Tea Party base. Specifically, all the Republicans clamoring for Christie to enter the race fail to recognize that he will have a problem for believing that climate change is real and humans contribute to it. And I shudder to think how the mouth breathers will react to seeing him rip apart the anti-Muslim bigots who oppose Chrisite’s appointment of Sohail Mohammed to the NJ state bench:

As a progressive, I worry about Christie entering the race. He’s smart, affable and a powerful communicator. But while he may not pass muster with the Tea Party crowd, he’s a radically conservative politician who would seek to destroy workers’ rights and make business unaccountable to the public.

At some point, I wonder if the Republican primary will hinge around electability. But until then, it will focus on the candidate who comes closest to complete ideological purity with the Tea Party base. Christie may get in. Huckabee may get in. But I doubt either will be sufficiently crazy to please the base and win the nomination.

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