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Rolling Stone Magazine: GOP’s Crackpot Agenda

Rolling Stone Magazine’s political coverage has been sharp and detailed in its reporting, a far cry from the brilliant yet gonzo journalism style employed by the late Hunter S. Thompson, but this piece in the Magazine’s year end review details how the Republican party platform for the 2012 presidential race isn’t all that different from candidate to candidate.

And while there seems to be this undertone that the President’s re-election is at serious doubt, the far to the right approach by the current GOP field shows re-election just might be easier than expected.  It’s been reported Obama already leads the entire GOP field in polls in both South Carolina and Florida.  While no one expects Obama to capture of all the red-turned-blue states he won in 2008, adding Florida to likely blue states of California, New York and Illinois are going to make the president tough to beat.  In fact in most head-to-head polls, with the exception of the right wing Rasmussen polls, Obama leads virtually every head to head race.

From the Rolling Stone article:

By all rights, 2012 ought to be a cakewalk for the GOP. Unemployment is pandemic. Riot police are confronting protesters in public squares and on college campuses. In an epic fail of foresight, the Democratic convention will be held in one of the world’s banking centers, Charlotte, North Carolina – setting the stage for violent clashes not seen since the streets of Chicago, 1968. “I hope they keep this up,” gloated Grover Norquist, one of the Republican Party’s most influential strategists. “Hippies elected Nixon. Occupy Wall Street will beat Obama.”

But don’t go writing the president’s political obituary just yet: He may wind up being resurrected by the GOP itself. The Republican Party – dominated by hardliners still cocky after the electoral sweep of 2010 – has backed its entire slate of candidates into far-right corners on everything from the environment and immigration to taxation and economic austerity. Whether the GOP opts for Mitt Romney or an “anti-Mitt” is almost entirely beside the point. On the major policy issues of the day, there’s barely a ray of sunshine between any of the viable Republicans, not counting those who have committed the sin of libertarianism (Ron Paul) or moderation (Jon Huntsman). No matter who winds up with the nomination, it appears, Obama will face a candidate to the right of Barry Goldwater.
Rolling Stone boils down the GOP agenda to these items:

  • Promote job growth at the expense of the environment by creating jobs for polluters
  • Unleash Wall Street
  • Destroy the Safety Net
  • Economic havoc by requiring balanced budgets
  • Endless war
  • Cutting taxes on the rich; cutting services to the middle class and poor
  • Attack abortion laws
  • Immigrant bashing

The article wraps up in ways progressives can find promise:

Today, just 28 percent of Americans identify themselves as Republicans – a drop of five points from the Bush years. To be the ringleader in a small-tent party requires adopting positions that are offensive to the broader public – and even to people who once fit comfortably in the GOP coalition. “You’ve got to address everything from abortion to how many evangelicals can sit on the head of a pin,” says Wilkerson. “It’s really a problem.”

So far, the GOP has gotten away with its sharp turn to the right. In the midterm elections last year, in which Republican hardliners seized control of Congress, conservatives cast 41 percent of all votes. Senior citizens made up a quarter of the electorate, as did voters making more than $100,000 a year. But the general election next fall will attract voters who are younger and less affluent. If Obama can inspire anything resembling the historic turnout he sparked in 2008, the GOP is in for a beat-down. The Hispanic vote, for example, is expected to rise by nearly a quarter next year – and a recent poll found Latino voters swinging to Obama by nearly three-to-one over both Romney and Perry.