The Angry Base and the Angrier Base

Gage Skidmore/Wikimedia Commons

As you may recall, in the days just prior to his annual Red State Gathering, Erick Erickson went into what can clinically be called an apoplectic hate-rage aimed at the Republican Party for its failure to immediately promise to shut down the government if necessary to produce the de-funding of Planned Parenthood. We don’t have to review his hissy fits in detail, but he did specifically say this after fulminating for a good while:

If Abraham Lincoln’s Party cannot go to war against that where war is not bullets, just a government shut down until the President relents, then Abraham Lincoln’s Party needs to be put on the ash heap of history. It really is that simple.

Now Erick’s dealing with an sea of hyperbolic emails and tweets from people unhappy with his decision to disinvite Donald Trump to the Gathering, and he’s begging them to “recalibrate” and get a grip:

Conservatives have a real and legitimate reason to be pissed off at the GOP. Polling suggests conservatives hate the Republicans in Washington more than Democrats hate the Republicans in Washington. That anger has galvanized conservatives and pushed them toward Donald Trump. To his credit, he has capitalized on that anger.

But folks, this is anger at an unhealthy level. It is anger that has gone beyond the righteous anger of repeated betrayals from Washington. It is an anger that has become unhinged and is potentially uncontrollable. Anger at that level is more often destructive than constructive.

I want to beat Hillary Clinton next year. I want to beat her with a Republican who is not just another party apparatchik surrounded by lower level party apparatchiks within the Republican Party.

But I know we cannot beat Hillary Clinton with this level of anger. We won’t be able to draw people to our side and our cause like this.

Gee, Erick, I’m confused. A few days ago you were ready to blow up the Republican Party forever if it did not do your bidding on a single issue. Now you want people to calm down so they can beat Hillary. Correct me if I’m wrong, but an exploded GOP that has lost its base isn’t going to beat Hillary, is it? So which is your current opinion? Your temper tantrum or your sermon against temper tantrums?

Truth is the Republican Party has been juggling dynamite for years in paying tribute to people like Erickson who claim to speak for the “angry base.” Now there’s an “angrier” base. Where you going to draw that line?

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.