This brief exchange (reported by Politico) from the first (and last) debate of the GA GOP SEN runoff tells you pretty much everything you need to know about the dynamics of the Republican primary cycle this year, and more than the usual effort to slot candidates into “Establishment” or “Tea Party” boxes:

Kingston attacked Perdue, a first-time candidate, for his associations in the private sector.

“You called for a national solution for the uninsured, which to me is basically an endorsement of Obamacare,” he said.

Perdue argued that Congress passed Obamacare and Dodd-Frank because Republicans failed to pass their own conservative reforms when they controlled the White House and a majority.

No matter what the topic under discussion, or where the candidates are supposedly pre-positioned, virtually all of them (with the exception of Thad Cochran, obviously) have sought to tie their talking points to a theme of superior fidelity to conservative ideology. The fact that a time-serving career appropriator like Kingston has managed to seize the ideological high ground in the GA runoff is a tribute to how badly GOP “base” voters want to hear their pieties repeated, and the rewards they will bestow on whoever most loudly signs hymns of praise to The Movement.

Our ideas can save democracy... But we need your help! Donate Now!

Ed Kilgore is a political columnist for New York and managing editor at the Democratic Strategist website. He was a contributing writer at the Washington Monthly from January 2012 until November 2015, and was the principal contributor to the Political Animal blog.