Folks, the squeaky wheel of activist conservatism and American populism might be getting the grease (i.e., a lot of media attention) right now, but when election time comes the buzz and passion of a new movement will matter less than appealing to the widest group of voters possible with the most credible candidate possible.As usual, I disagree with Fox News. I think the Republican Party should continue to French kiss the loons of the extreme right and demand that we continue to deepwater drill, raise the Social Security retirement age and repeal healthcare reform. And keep Limbaugh and Beck as their intellectual reservoir to tap for ideas and motivation. After all, what have they got to lose but another election?
Fact is, Crist is perceived as being reasonable; Rubio is in danger of being perceived as too doctrinaire and unpredictable because of his outsider status. And in Florida, as in the rest of America, reasonableness and predictability almost always win over ideology.
There’s a big lesson in this for Republicans looking for a reshaping of government in their favor this November. You simply can’t rely on the Tea Party. The most passionate, most vocal and most media-covered portion of the electorate will not win you the office. At the end of the day, a politician’s Target Market has to include independents and moderates and these voters will go for the candidate who is likeable and least extreme. Conservatism might go a lot farther in November, if it remembers the middle and doesn’t go too far right now.