Dick Lugar’s ouster as senator of Indiana marks the beginning of the end of this Republican party. He lost by nearly 20 points–well over 100,000 votes–in a primary…in Indiana. It was a blowout. You couldn’t fit the difference in an NFL stadium.
He lost to Indiana state treasurer, Tea Party extremist, and 3-time congressional seat loser, Richard Mourdock. Mr. Mourdock is a liiitle bit out there. He defines bipartisanship as “Democrats coming around to the Republican point-of-view.” (If you’re a Republican, imagine a Democrat saying the reverse of that.) He pledges no compromise on anything at any time for any reason.
He is an automatic candidate for 2012 Fool of the Year–and he may still be a 4-time congressional seat also-ran. He is extremely vulnerable in the general election. Obama won in Indiana in 2008.
Lugar was the longest-sitting Republican in the senate. He’s a mainstream conservative. He’s respected among his peers. He had status. He chaired committees. He specialized in foreign policy and arms control. He would consistently beat Democratic challengers by 30 points in general elections, in a purple state (he won his 2006 senate race by over 70 points. 70!). He was 80 years old and very near the end of his career.
So why couldn’t the Tea party crowd wait to give him the boot? It wasn’t because he was too entrenched (which he was) or that he was out of touch with voters (which he wasn’t, nationally speaking). He went down to defeat because he is one of the few Republicans willing to cross party lines (on rare occasions) and work with Democrats to get substantive things done. Specifically, he worked with Barrack Obama to help prevent nuclear weapons from falling into the hands of despotic regimes and terrorist organizations.
Not even Tea-Baggers are against locking down nukes. Right? Right? Wrong. Lugar committed the deadly and unforgivable sin of working with Barrack Obama for any reason, even a noble one. Because to these whack-jobs Barrack Obama’s divine logos inverts that of God Almighty: a thing is evil because Obama says it is good.
Super-PAC groups like the NRA and Freedom Works buttressed Mourdock with oodles of money and propelled him into victory on the pledge that he will never compromise. This would push the Senate toward the same sort of intractable gridlock currently paralyzing the House of Representatives.
The general electorate tends not to favor people like Mourdock whose mindsets make the government even more ineffective. He’s is the kind of guy who thinks programs like Social Security and Medicare are unconstitutional. And he promises, as senator of Indiana, to stand in uncompromising opposition to the president Indiana voted for in 2008.
It’s a key element of the divide between the extremists controlling the Republican party and the rest of America. It is the kind of disconnection that dooms the party to failure. Mainstream conservatives will look elsewhere–albeit not to Barrack Obama–if their needs aren’t being met by the Republican party. They’ve proven it. In conjunction with extreme positions on women’s reproductive rights, immigration, corporate subsidies, tax cuts for the rich, and LGBT marriage rights they’re pushing away all but a small minority of closed-minded Americans.
So please spare us the false equivalencies. This is something that is happening in the Republican party. And it’s something they need to deal with. Otherwise, it’s a recipe for failure now and in the long term.