I understand why Glenn Reynolds is bugged about this, but there’s a structural issue in the primary system that’s going to exist independently of how the GOP sets it up. To wit: there are three groups in the GOP.
- Group A largely thinks that while the political system can of course be improved, and in fact could be improved quite comprehensively, the system as such would work fine, so long as Group B would only stop messing with things that they do not understand before it catches on fire and kills us all.
- Group B largely thinks that Group A has taken a perfectly good political system and smacked it sixteen or so times with a hammer, grabbed what fell off and used it for their own benefit, and is now actively trying to stop Group B from fixing the mechanism before it catches on fire and kills us all.
- Both groups are dwarfed by Group C, which largely feels that whoever makes it through the primary system will be fine enough, and look, we have people in the party who worry about the politics for us, and they’re all patriotic Americans, right?
My readers are generally either from Group A or B, and I am not favoring one over the other. But I’ll note this: from a perfectly pragmatic standpoint the problem for Group A is that it far too quickly picks one candidate to rally around, and the problem for Group B is that it far too slowly picks one candidate to oppose Group A’s. This is usually to Group B’s detriment in the primary (as Group C will reasonably assume that Group A’s candidate is popular among the people who actually pay attention to the nuts-and-bolts, and there’s such a thing as too many choices*), and, lately, to Group A’s detriment in the general election (because, frankly, Group A is usually pretty flabby and out of shape when it comes to a general election slugfest).
Honestly? My sympathies are, in the end, with Group C. Which is a group that doesn’t really care who started it, and who said what to who, and who did this, and who did that; they just want the freaking fighting to stop so that we can get on with electing a candidate. Or at least that everybody kick it down to a dull roar.
PS: I know, I’m not really giving any practical advice on this. That’s because I don’t know if there is any way to reconcile an Establishment v. Insurgent conflict. Besides, the way things are going we’re going to win the 2016 election either way.
PPS: Both Group A and B over-estimate their ability to throw an election via the withholding of support. But that’s an entirely different post, and one that may be better suited for late November of this year.
*To give just one example: strictly speaking, Mitt Romney was not the best candidate in 2012 in any one category. He was almost certainly not the best candidate, period**. But when his team could compare Romney to Rick Perry in one category and Newt Gingrich in another category and Herman Cain in yet another category and so on and so forth, it was easy for them to prevail over all of them (particularly since the debates refused to admit that it was Romney v. Everybody Else, and asked questions accordingly***).
**Mind you, from the point of view of being a decent human being he was one of the best candidates we’ve had in a while.
***I don’t mind debate moderators who are Democrats. I do mind debate moderators who are unprofessional.