After years on the hustings, countless campaign appearances and many millions of dollars later, Willard “Mitt” Romney ended with just a fraction fewer votes than he received 4 years ago. Last night Mitt Romney was able to eek out an 8 vote victory over the surging Sanitorium primarily because the Rescumlican field proved, on balance, less convincing than the last time around. With a lower turnout than in 2008, Romney was able to finish just ahead of Rick Santorum for the bragging rights to Iowa.
The results produced by the ‘retail’ politics of Iowa reflect the huge divisions that lurk just beneath the surface of the Rescumlican Party. Divided between the so-called “moderates”, that is the marginally sane candidates represented by Romney and Huntsman, and the “ideologues” represented by the likes of Ron Paul and, to some extent Baby Huey, the base of the wrong is further subdivided by the emergence of ultra-conservatives who pander openly to the crypto-fascist brown shirts so evident in the 2009 shenanigans over the Health-Care fiasco. This base element was represented most markedly by Michelle Bachman and Rick Perry who pandered shamelessly to the likes of Dick Armey and Rush Limbaugh embracing every cracker-headed idea from ‘Birther’ to ‘death panels’ to repeal of the 14th amendment and the direct election of the Senate. Not since the days of John C. Calhoun has the politics of ‘nullification’ been so openly advocated. The idiot wrong has moved to obstruct, delay and otherwise impede the efforts in the waning days of the last Republican administration as well as President Obama to right the ship of state before it flounders on the rocks.
What we have here, then, is a race between the relative voices of reason with the voices of intolerance and greed. The results showed that among hard-core activists the latter hold the majority within the Rescumlican party but are divided concerning who should carry their standard. As long as those divisions hold and the ‘anybody but Romney’ movement cannot come together behind the standard of a single alternative then the voices of ‘reason’ and ‘moderation’--always in short supply within the Rescumlican ranks--will win out.
To date the fundamentalist base of the party has been unable get behind a consensus candidate. It remains to be seen if the emergence of Santorum as the latest ‘I-am-not-Romney’ candidate will prove to be more than a mere 15 minutes in the spotlight. It will depend on if he can now turn this performance into a compelling candidacy by raising enough money and building the organization needed for the long haul ahead. Both time and money are in short-supply. If he doesn’t act or the base of the party does not move to his assistance quickly enough Santorum will go the way of Michelle Bachman who won the straw-poll in Iowa last summer and withdrew from the race today saying that the people had spoken. And so they have, and now it’s on to New Hampshire.