Extremism generally hurts the political party that embraces it. The only bright side I can see to the Republican victories this year is that they will tend to lead to even more extreme behavior by the Teahadist wing, and even more deference to that wing by politicians who know better but fear primaries.
The efflux of sane, smart, thoughtful people from the Republican Party has been going on for most of a decade now. (Although, as Adlai Stevenson said, that’s not enough for the Democrats; after all, we need a majority.) That’s part of the reason why the right wing does so well in primaries; the grown-ups have left in droves.
For some, it was the gay-bashing with which Bush won re-election. For others, it was torture. For others yet, it was the Terri Schiavo affair, as a symbol of the contempt of the right wing for individual liberty, federalism, and the rule of law when they conflict with “right-to-life” ideology. And then there were those who found in the nomination of Sarah Palin a sign that the Republicans had degenerated from a potential party of government into a mere pop-culture happening, scrabbling for votes “by any means necessary.”
All that was pre-Tea. Now the exiles tend to be worried about intra-party nastiness. (Few seem to mind the sheer falsity of the personal attacks on Barack Obama, though a conservative, properly speaking, is one who believes in respect for properly constituted authority.)
The latest to declare his disgust – though not, or not yet, to cross the aisle – is Professor Bainbridge. He agrees with Bruce Bartlett that the “closing of the conservative mind” is something to worry about.
RBC values its right-leaning readers, so let me address them directly: your time to be revolted by the GOP has not come yet. But it may come.