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Something that should probably be noted is that regardless of whatever "branding" the Republican Party chooses to try or not try, the ground facts are still that anyone running for a Republican office has to be more conservative than the person they are replacing. You might have a genuine conservative crackpot in the likes of retiring Oklahoma Sen. Tom Coburn, but anyone seeking to replace him on the Republican side is going to have to make Tom Coburn look nigh-on like a communist. While the party wags putter on with novel ways to convince young Americans or, heaven forbid, females that the party has not lost all of their marbles, the actual candidates running for things continue to be proud, self-proclaimed extremists on a variety of issues.

Which is how you get people like the otherwise rather unimpressive Rep. James Lankford announcing that his scant few years in the mental ward known as the House of Representatives (Lankford was one of the Republicans elected in the Great Meltdown of 2010, a member of the class that has done its level best to reduce any part of the government they might touch to rubble) has prepared him for moving on up to the Senate and Tom Coburn's current seat. Lankford is a social conservative, which mainly means continual vows to make life miserable for LGBT Americans in any way a lawmaker could possibly manage:

As a candidate in 2010, Lankford praised the unconstitutional Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA) and opined that marriage “should be defended as an institution between one man and one woman.” After the U.S. Supreme Court struck down DOMA last year, Lankford blasted the ruling and signed on as a co-sponsor of three measures aimed at restoring anti-LGBT discrimination. One bill, the “State Marriage Defense Act,” would make it so that married couples who enter a state that doesn’t recognize their marriage would also lose their federal benefits. Despite Lankford’s stated view that marriage is “a state issue,” he also is a backer of the “Marriage and Religious Freedom Act” (which would give anti-LGBT people a license to ignore the legal marriages of same-sex couples even when recognized in their state) and a federal constitutional amendment to restrict marriage nationally to only oppose-sex couples.
And so on and so forth. He is from Oklahoma, after all, the state where you cannot be a true conservative unless you not only believe all those things but also have at least one closet in your house decked out as a private religious shrine to the movie Red Dawn.

Please read below the fold for more on GOP extremism.

Here's the thing, though: Don't think that merely being virulently anti-gay, anti-abortion, pro-gun rights and anti-EPA and the standard litany of other once-extreme, now-required positions is good enough for the current party. Oh, he can be an absolute nutcase on a whole host of social issues, but even he does not have the full-throated support of conservatives. No, conservatives find him lacking because, to his great discredit, there apparently have been at least several occasions in which he did not fully follow through with the required True Republican plan-of-the-moment to strap on a suicide vest and blow the government up for Freedom.

“We won’t support Congressman Lankford’s bid for the Senate because of his past votes to increase the debt limit, raise taxes, and fund Obamacare,” said [Senate Conservative Fund] Executive Director Matt Hoskins in a statement released Monday.

“We have reviewed his record and it’s clear that conservatives cannot count on him to fight for their principles,” he continued.

The tea partiers hate him too, both groups much preferring Rep. Jim Bridenstine, a first-termer who has made a small name for himself primarily as one of the House Republicans most devoted purity trolls.

Repeat similar battles in each of the states and you can see just how big the Republican pie fight is likely to be. The national committee can pull their hair and write their little reports all they like, but the plain truth of it is that the base continues to be enamored with extremist candidates, and continues to judge the relative worth of each candidate solely by how extremist they are willing to be on issues like, say, whether to keep the federal government functioning at all.

It ain't a branding issue. The party has spent a decade driving out insufficiently extremist members, in deed and in rhetoric, telling the base that compromise on conservative issues is akin to treason against the nation. They've spent decades longer telling their base that a thousand different issues were all existential threats to the American way of life. Now they've built a party base that honestly believes both of those things.

Originally posted to Hunter on Tue Jan 21, 2014 at 02:21 PM PST.

Also republished by Daily Kos.

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