Fighting for the Party’s Soul

I have no idea whether Bill Quick is right about the deal, but he’s certainly right that a serious fight is taking place over the direction of the Republican party.

The war isn’t new; it goes back at least to 1964. I saw a bit of it in my brief stint as a Republican precinct captain and convention goer in the 1980s. I volunteered for the Reagan campaign in 1984, and was still precinct captain in 1988. At the precinct meeting on the day of the primary, a group of Bush supporters came into the room shortly after the meeting started and told those of us who had worked on the Reagan campaign and had run precinct affairs for the past four to eight years that our help was no longer needed. We Reaganites were in our twenties and thirties; these men were in their fifties and sixties. We were middle class; these guys looked like they had just come from the golf course. (They all had the unnaturally even tan that one tends to see only on television.)  We had never seen them before. And we never saw them again, because our involvement in the party ended that day. I had six years of files on party voters, contributors, and volunteers in the precinct; the Bush guys weren’t interested.

McCain? Romney? They’re both from the country club wing of the party that I encountered that night in 1988. That wing lost the nomination in 1964, 1980, and 1984, but it’s won every other time, and it’s going to win this year even if Romney somehow edges out McCain.

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