The Direction of the GOP Post-November

My earlier ruminations about the ability of movement conservatives to make absolutely any political context a compelling argument for a further Right Turn leads me to a fairly obvious conclusion that is worth bearing in mind when thinking beyond November.

Thanks to the famous lack of trust in Mitt Romney on the Right, if he loses, the post-election spin from True Conservatives will be that once again Barack Obama has stolen an election from the GOP because it failed to nominate a True Conservative.

If he wins, the same lack of trust will generate a great deal of heat during the transition period aimed at instant redemption of every campaign promise Romney made to the Right, along with demands for appointment spoils. Most of all, there will be incredible pressure placed on congressional Republicans to hold Mitt’s feet to the fire and keep him from selling out by pursuing any sort of bipartisanship or any independent course of action.

There will be no ideological “struggle for the soul of the GOP” in either event, beyond a few Beltway types who will utter Sober and Responsible Warnings about the need for (a) moderation after defeat or (b) responsibiity in governing after victory. These views will be derided and dismissed by conservative opinion-makers in an overwhelming chorus.

From this angle, the nomination of Mitt Romney may turn out to more of a gift than a setback for the ideological warriors of the Right–particularly since he’s already given them pretty much every policy concession they could have reasonably demanded.

This scenario provides a sharp contrast to what we will hear from Democrats after November, win or lose; I strongly suspect we will witness a “struggle for the soul of the Democratic Party” of epic proportions. But that’s a topic for another day.

Ed Kilgore

Ed Kilgore, a Monthly contributing editor, is a columnist for the Daily Intelligencer, New York magazine’s politics blog, and the managing editor for the Democratic Strategist.