The new Michigan poll: http://www.publicpolicypolling.com/main/2012/02/santorum-moves-ahea... 

Santorum looks like he's going to have a big win in Michigan, and Romney is being forced to spout faith-based insanities in an effort to survive (as is Obama).  

If Santorum is finally the agreed upon representative of the lunatic right, the Republicans are going to find that they've got a clear and angry split in the Party, with only one damaged winner coming out of the convention, and it won't necessarily be Romney.

While I think the Republican Party will lose the election, I think the cultural divide in the US might equal the Vietnam era. Will this year be the high-water mark of the "social conservatives?" Predictions anyone? 

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It's quite strange.  When economic times are tough, social issues recede in comparative importance.  With vast swathes of people out of work, and stock markets in a tailspin, abortion and flag-burning suddenly don't seem to be so important any more.  Now if they are suddenly important, maybe that's a harbinger of better economic times ahead?  Well, that or complete lunacy gripping the land.

Republican presidential candidates have in the past 30 years had a history of winning not because voters liked them, but because the Democrats did not offer a convincing alternative (Mondale, Dukakis, Kerry).  Now the shoe is on the other foot.  I have been a lukewarm supporter of Obama, and remain that - lukewarm.  But assuredly he has my vote, because the Republicans have been unable to field even a remotely reasonable candidate.

But back to the cultural divide.  In the very big picture, I am optimistic that general trends in America are moving away from dogmatism and bigotry towards what resembles open-mindedness.  The great inhibitor of this trend, which is obscuring the big picture, is not recidivism towards "traditional" culture, but widespread skepticism of the federal government and comparative favoritism of local government.  Under the present view, everything that the federal government does, becomes suspect; it is inefficient, inept, foolish, draconian, and outright evil - thus goes the belief.  Anything done at the federal level becomes hated.  If the federal government passed a nonbinding resolution asserting that breathing oxygen is good for your health, millions of Americans would die of asphyxiation from vitriolic protest.  Well, many social reforms, such as expanding suffrage or civil rights - comes from the federal level.  So as federal activity is vilified, activity in the opposite direction is extolled.  I don't think that most Americans oppose contraception, but the religious-right scored a victory by selling contraception as some federal-government power grab; never mind that it was entirely the opposite!

So maybe as the economy improves, and people come to realize that from time to time federal initiatives (such as the 2008-2009 bailouts) are actually beneficial, society will no longer view progressive actions as some nefarious horror coming to annual our liberties.  And then, I think, the religious right will no longer find itself pacing mainstream political discourse in America.

This poll just released show independents moving toward Obama and Santorum running even with Romney nation-wide. These are fast-developing and important shifts.

http://www.people-press.org/2012/02/13/santorum-catches-romney-in-g...

can i just say "ditto" and score some points.  well said Michael. 

I agree.  There could very well be a split in the Republican Party this year.  Santorum is nuts, Romney can't keep up with Santorum's 14th century views.  If you look at this juxtaposed to the HHS ruling, the split becomes even more stark.  There are many moderate Republicans who do not like the Party's or Church's stance.  Yet--they are not the Republicans who vote in primarily vote in primaries...(fun sentence).  By the time that it is all said and done, Santorum could be the nominee, while moderate Republicans are left out in the cold.  Either way it is a good situation for Obama

Yes, I think they've ruined their chances this year. I hope it carries across to congressional races.

I've heard that the demographics is working against the right. The old white reactionaries are decreasing as a percentage of the population, and they're scared of losing their special status.

My hope is that it's a death rattle of religion and bigotry, making a last big push before finally being recognized by corporate and media power as nuts and a bad investment. When they can be laughed at on television, they'll be offically back to the dumb hayseed status they once had.

The religious-Republicans have a potential goldmine of voters in the Latino/Hispanic community, which is staunchly Catholic and socially conservative - and growing rapidly.  But Republicans are too boneheaded with their xenophobia, insulting precisely the demographic groups that they ought to be cultivating.  It would be even more hilarious if "mainstream" Christians marginalize Romney for his Mormonism.  Sectarian bickering is such a delicious reprieve from usual religious assault on secular society.

America remains a staunchly conservative society, compared to most everywhere else in the Western world. Even so, political conservatives have overplayed their cards.  Let us hope that they lack the wisdom to regroup.

Good topic.  I don't have much to say other than "me too", but it's a good topic.  I don't know if polarization is worse - remembering the 60s, and politics since then.   I googled on "Polarization" and the articles went back over a decade, and that's just the first page of responses.  I am not convinced that we son't have President Santorum in 2013.  I hope not, but who would have thought him a serious contender now?  Who thought Obama would win at the same stage of the 2008 election?

You're scaring me Sent.

As inclined as I am to think mah fellow 'mericans are mostly dumb, I can't believe they'll go that far. There is that Weimar Republic election in 1933, though.

Santorum has his core constituency firmly super-glued on his side.  Now he can move to the center, with occasional wink-winks to the christian right, so that ignorant people can look at him in his sweater vest and think, "nice, cozy".  Ohhhhh, he's had grief, stillborn baby and one with horrible chromosomal disease, empathy, he's a real person!  Look, a "family man" (and Obama's not?).  Working-class cred!  White!  Damn, I'm scaring myself too, Phil.

I think the polarization is as bad as it has ever been.   I think that is why is have found myself writing more about Republicans in the past week than I ever cared to think about them before.  If someone like Santorum wins the nomination, it is a validation for many forms of ignorance that would not prepare future generations of the U.S. for the reality of the twenty-first century.  He doesn't even need to win the general election to accomplish this.  That is what I find scary.  Think about it in only one way....if he wins the nomination is is validation for creationism over evolution.  It will have given the creationists the biggest spotlight and platform they have ever had...and that is just if he wins the nomination...

Polarization is bad, and I think it is only going to get worse...

Ricky Boy wouldn't be the first Fundy to hold office - remember GWB?  Reagan?  there were differences, of course.  Santorum's win would be largely b/c of his extreme conservative social value platform, while Reagan won b/c he was an actor and GWB won b/c of his daddy.

GWB and Reagan did not seem nearly as Fundy to me.  Sure they were Christian, perhaps even "very Christian", but to the extent that Santorum is.  I would argue that the level of fundamentalism that increased with each election from Reagan to today.  I would say that Palin, was more extreme than Bush, though McCain was not.

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