As the Republican nomination process unfolds in the US, the mixed results showcase the significant chasms within the Republican party.
Since the early 1980s (with the election of Ronald Reagan), the religious Right has gained significant influence by using a fear-based “moral” agenda to inspire followers to give money and come to the polls. Half the Republican party buys into this agenda.
Rick Santorum’s strong showing in Iowa, and Mitt Romney’s inability to increase his support among Republicans, highlight this Grand Canyon divide that the party is now forced to address.
The problem Romney faces is that leaders such as Karl Rove (who was behind the election of both Bush family members) have helped steer a path that alienates large numbers of his own party.
But the borderline theocracy that Rove helped develop is no longer in vogue. The electorate is recognising that we face bigger problems than thinking America needs to return to a “Leave it to Beaver” 1950s “golden era” mentality.
So Santorum is the next incarnation of the theocratic candidate of choice, with Romney just not Christian enough.
Until Mormons are the dominant Christian group in the United States (a trajectory not too far away), evangelicals will find accepting Joseph Smith’s tenets a little beyond their tolerance level.
Both Romney and Santorum meet the white, rich, middle-aged male criteria for a Republican persona, so one of them will get the nomination.
Whether it’s Romney, Santorum or any of the other wannabes, the end result will not change the inevitable results of November.
Barack Obama will be elected to a second term. The majority of the people in the US will once again choose a candidate that represents the landscape of a diverse mosaic of thought and colour.
An America that chooses a forward trajectory will prevail, and the moral absolutists will be preaching to a smaller and smaller choir.
David Den Hartog