The margin of victory over Cucchinelli in Virginia last night was too small to represent the complete repudiation of the Tea Party that we had hoped for, or that the polls had suggested. I am happy for the GOP civil war to continue, since the election did not resolve the ongoing struggle for dominance between the establishment GOP and Tea Party factions. For Dems, if the GOP civil war keeps on, it's a wonderful life.
However, there is a huge amount of brand loyalty among Republican voters, which is a danger to Democrats and sane candidates everywhere.
In fact, if you add the 6% of the vote that went to a self-described libertarian, you swing the election the other way. I think there is the danger that if the Republicans re-define themselves as a libertarian party and retained that brand loyalty, they could renew themselves.
The intra-party GOP tension has not yet turned into a libertarians vs. evangelicals battle, which is what I think will eventually happen. I see the Tea Party as being made up of the authoritarian followers and authoritarian leaders wing, which wants the power to decide who is a "real American" and who isn't, and who is a RINO and who is not. I suspect a lot of the evangelicals are in there right now.
Tea Partiers bug the establishment GOP, which just wants to screw the poor and take contributions from billionaires and corporations. Because Tea Partiers are crazy and extremist, they interfere with establishment GOP collection plate passing among corporate donors.
Right now the GOP is poison to the millennial generation, which does not care about the social issues that get the evangelical wing jacked up.
But if the GOP really decides to go libertarian--get OK with not regulating women's bodies and pot along with not regulating pollution, corporate fraud, and workplace abuses--it might well pick up some millennial support while holding on to the corporate and billionaire contributions.
Tossing the evangelicals overboard--or more likely, saying placating things to evangelicals while ignoring them--could be the road back for the GOP in national elections. I don't know that the GOP will get there. They are hooked on the crack cocaine of an evangelical and authoritarian base vote. Right now that looks like a path to permanent minority status, as has occurred in California.
I hate the continuing brand loyalty of rank and file Republicans, in the face of demonstrated craziness by the Tea Partiers. I hope their in-party divisions continue to cripple them.
But hope is not a strategy. Getting out the vote on the Dem side, and public mocking, shaming and repudiation of GOP politics of cruelty is.