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April 24, 2013 1:21 PM The Remorseless Rightward Pressure On the GOP

By Ed Kilgore

Any time I read one of those articles about the Republican Party “rebranding” itself or “moving to the center” or “coming to its senses,” I think of the drift of political life in my home state of Georgia. After Sen. Saxby Chambliss was more or less pushed into retirement for the sin of contemplating a “grand bargain” between the GOP and Obama, a large early field of very conservative would-be Senators has assembled, driven (by most accounts) into a more-conservative-than-thou competition by Rep. Paul Broun, who makes Michele Bachmann look like the soul of sweet reason.

But it’s not like this is some passing wave of Tea Party/Christian Right extremism in Georgia. The House members running for the Senate could well be succeeded by a new bunch that’s even wilder. Consider Phil Gingrey’s 11th district, where I lived during high school. The first candidate into the race is a famous radical voice, Bob Barr, who once represented a similar district as a classic Gingrich-era right-wing firebrand (serving as a Clinton Impeachment co-manager, and sponsoring the original Patriot Act and Defense of Marriage Act) before later becoming the presidential nominee of the Libertarian Party. But Barr could become the RINO in the field, as “constitutional conservatives” unite behind state senator Barry Loudermilk.

Described by the Atlanta Journal-Constitution’s Jim Galloway as a “constitutionalist somewhat in the mold of Paul Broun,” Loudermilk became famous even before running for office as the author of a post-9/11 local newspaper screed that went globally viral, encouraging non-Christians and immigrants to pack up and leave America if they didn’t like “our culture.” During his climb through the Georgia Republican ranks, Loudermilk has championed a variety of anti-immigrant bills, “personhood” initiatives, efforts to shut down all state agencies not specifically authorized by the state constitution, and serial theocratic gestures. He was also one of the participants in a colleague’s “briefing” for state senators on the evil United Nations Agenda 21 effort to destroy private property rights.

At the recent 11th district Republican convention where Loudermilk formally announced his congressional candidacy, a straw poll (reported by Galloway) showed him trouncing Bob Barr and the rest of the field. Just as interestingly, the poll showed Paul Broun leading the 11th district’s own Phil Gingrey in the Senate contest.

Now maybe Broun won’t win and maybe Loudermilk won’t win; neither has any national support so far, and neither is known for fundraising prowess. But it’s important to understand that these zany men are wildly popular among the kind of grassroots conservative activists who have been lashing the GOP to the hard right in recent years. In his remarks to the 11th district convention, Loudermilk said: “I don’t come from the grassroots; I am the grassroots!” and that would seem to be an entirely accurate statement. So even if “establishment Republicans” can squelch such candidates, it will involve competing with them avidly on fever-swamp themes. And that’s how people like Phil Gingrey or another intensely conservative Senate likely, Tom Price, wind up looking like moderate “squishes.” To adapt the president’s term for the ideological passions gripping the conservative movement and dominating the GOP, the “fever” is not “breaking,” at least down at the level where people don’t bother to sanitize their views. It may, actually, be getting worse.

Ed Kilgore is a contributing writer to the Washington Monthly. He is managing editor for The Democratic Strategist and a senior fellow at the Progressive Policy Institute. Find him on Twitter: @ed_kilgore.

Comments

  • c u n d gulag on April 24, 2013 1:40 PM:

    ZOINKS!!!

    Uhm...
    How much room can there still be left on that right?

    I suppose that we should be glad that we aren't cloning humans yet, or else GA Conservatives might select an Ernst Julius Günther Röhm* clone to run for their Senate seat, even if he had on his SA uniform with his hand raised in a "Zieg Heil" salute in public appearance, as long as he was holding a Bible, was for eugenics, against abortion and immigration, and wanted women at home, popping out quiver-full's of children, to serve "The Homeland."

    WTF?!?!?!?!?!?!?!?!?!?!?!?!?!?!?!?!?!?!?!?!?!

    *My apologies for not following Godwins Law.

  • Peter C on April 24, 2013 2:22 PM:

    So, who do we run against these bozos?

  • jrosen on April 24, 2013 2:27 PM:

    Interesting choice of Nazi! Rohm was the leader of Hitler's earlier brown-shirted bully boys, the SA. Strong evidence that he (as were many of those guys) gay (before the word, of course). No doubt whatever that on the "night of the long knives" he along with several hundred other comrades (and an occasional mistaken identity like the music critic with the wrong, for him name) were murdered in an internal putsch which cleared the way for the SS (and not incidentally assuaged the anxieties of some of the older WEhrmacht leaders about rivals). This happened in 1934, and should have been read by interested parties elsewhere as indication of the Nazi "style" of political persuasion.

  • Citizen Alan on April 24, 2013 2:31 PM:

    What is the GOP-Dem split in this district? I'm sure it leans red, but is it so ruby-red that a Dem stands no chance against someone as demonstrably crazy as Loudermilk.

  • c u n d gulag on April 24, 2013 2:41 PM:

    jrosen,
    That's exactly why I picked him.

    Todays Conservatives, look more and more like those brown-shirted bullies.

    And, my other subtext in picking him, is, that I've found that a lot of the most virulent homophobes, are trying to hide some level of their own urges for members of their own sex.

  • MuddyLee on April 24, 2013 2:59 PM:

    Georgia and North Carolina republicans are getting crazier and crazier. If they're not careful, they are going to make South Carolina republicans look sane - not an easy thing to accomplish.

  • BillFromPA on April 24, 2013 3:09 PM:

    Ed says, 'But it’s not like this is some passing wave of Tea Party/Christian Right extremism in Georgia.'

    He's right, it's not limited to Ga., this wave is present in every state. The 'baggers are a re-named crew of wingnuts who were always there under different names, sometimes no particular name, and they were forever being played by the GOP elite who took their money and votes and delivered little. With the threat of an Obama presidency they shook off the leash and took control of the GOP primary process. They're the leaders of the party now and they're not going away soon. Their only response to an electoral defeat is to shuffle to the right, it's all they know.

  • rrk1 on April 24, 2013 3:33 PM:

    With safe gerrymandered districts, the crazy caucus is only going to grow in the House, and from what I read here, not only grow, but get even crazier, if that's possible. This district is probably so red no Democrat has a chance even if the Rethug candidate got caught in bed with a dead girl and a live boy.

    The prognosis is pretty bad for Congress. Unless there is a national non-partisan redistricting mandate (I know I'm hallucinating) the polarization is going to get more severe. Left-of-center types will move to districts where they are more comfortable, and right-of-center types will do likewise. Perhaps it would be better for the world if we broke up, but breaking up is so hard to do...as the song goes.

  • Doug on April 24, 2013 7:02 PM:

    rrk1, just because a CD is "red" doesn't mean *all* those who make it so are Tealibanites. It may be more of a case of how many just don't vote *for* the RWNJ candidate/s.
    And no way are we "breaking up"; they're not getting off *that* easily!

  • jkl; on April 24, 2013 10:00 PM:

    There is no re-branding. They are still dangerous to our democracy and choking us with their single-minded obstructionism. It is the new national tragedy. And public doubts will grow. It is a major worst case scenario and we must work to promote others to vote as democrat in subsequent elections.

  • mfw13 on April 24, 2013 11:37 PM:

    The problem is that sane "moderate" Republicans are mostly businessmen, and are too busy running their businesses to match the intensity of the Tea Partiers.