Waiting for Tuesday's results, I dropped in on an old friend who's one of the leading Democrat political consultants to compare generalizations. I won't embarrass him by name. One thing we both note is the level of nastiness and intolerance is much higher than ever.
One big difference we both see is the mutation of the registered independent. Until recently, independents were the squishies who couldn't quite make up their minds about most issues, and were often goody two shoes types who thought having a strong opinion was tacky. Not any more.
Today's independents mostly came from the two major parties and quit because they felt they weren't being represented from both left and right. They have strong opinions and were and are a major factor in things like the Tea Parties. Democrats who view them as products of the GOP are way off, and should also be aware of another if smaller group of disaffected Democrats who are basically left of center, but equally unhappy with what they see as "politics as usual by special interests." They like some Obama policy moves, but dislike the Chicago methods.
Another joint observation concerns petitioning. Far less people will sign anything. Incumbent candidates found it more difficult to circulate nominating petitions, and door-to-door campaigning has been greatly curtailed by gates, dogs and mostly attitudes. The initiative process will grow harder and more expensive.
It's a heady brew and future candidates and campaigns will have to take it into account. Posed photos with the family dog will no longer cut it. These folks want real meat.
Republican establishment hacks, like the bozos in NYCD23, are particularly threatened. Currently only 20 percent of Americans identify as Republicans, while 40 percent claim to be conservatives. That is the real Bush legacy — losing the base. Nixon managed that too.
I receive a constant stream of forwarded e-mails from those who advocate voting against all incumbents. I urge anybody, left or right, who gets those missives to immediately stomp on the sender. Why should a lefty Democrat dump Dennis Kucinich? Why should folks like me get rid of Jeff Flake or Tom Coburn? These populist ranters have yet to recognize that most of those they dislike are not corrupt or sleazy, but just wrong. Those who simplify by condemning everyone are lazy and irrational. Problem is their anger is real.
Many Republicans are afraid of these folks. I'm not, I've been there before in the early '60s when I was one of the newbies aboard for the conservative values expressed by Barry Goldwater, Bill Buckley and others. Those on the right mumbling about a third party should note that it ain't that hard to take over the GOP. We did.
In many areas, solid conservatives are already in charge or in office. In others, the party structure is so weak that a handful of people can knock it over. This is even more the case in heavy Democrat states and districts where the GOP organization barely exists.
The GOP of 1964 was a whole lot more liberal than today. After winning the nomination fair and square, a host of that generation's RINOs put a shiv in Goldwater's back. Most were dumped later themselves, but the GOP's conservative and political growth was arrested by the Nixon era and didn't regroup until Reagan and Gingrich.
Many conservatives condemn the GOP by focusing on a handful of RINOS, defectors and wimps like Olympia Snowe and Lindsey Graham. Forty years ago they were the majority. Not any more.
Those on the right wishing to influence our nation's future have a vehicle in the Republican Party. You on the left are free to make your own calls.
Hear Emil Franzi and Tom Danehy Saturdays 1-4 p.m. on KVOI 1030AM.