Pat Buchanan's interview with the right-wing NewsMax website might well be dismissed as the fringe talking to the fringe, but it may also illustrate the fragility of the Republican voting coalition, as opposed to its bloc of legislators. Buchanan warned, without advocating the option, that many "Republican conservatives," "social conservatives" and "Tea party folks" might either stay home or form a third party if Mitt Romney becomes the party's presidential candidate. Without once mentioning the word "Mormon," Buchanan explains that many in the groups he mentioned don't consider Romney "one of us," though he suggests that their suspicion is actually based on his controversial record as governor of Massachusetts. Worse yet for the Republicans, Buchanan worries that the candidates who seem to be "one of us," -- he lists Bachmann, Cain, Perry and Santorum -- don't seem to be electable right now, even in the primaries. In other words, he has no confidence in any "Stop Romney" movement before the national convention, and less confidence in Romney's ability to keep "us" on the GOP reservation a year from now.
Buchanan's comments have provoked a telling debate at the FreeRepublic website, where readers appear split between embracing the third-party option and demanding the reduction of the Republican field to Romney and Anti-Romney. There's an obvious and growing impatience with the confusing variety of candidates. It seems to obfuscate the real issue, which is whether "true conservatives" or whatever Romney is shall rule the party. Like the nation itself under Bipolarchy, the GOP is thus reduced to two either/or options that automatically become extremes. Yet while the reactionaries assert bipolarchy within the party, many seem immune to the usual Bipolarchy appeal to the lesser evil. There may be wonderful irony here for hostile observers if it turns out that the people who have demonized President Obama beyond all reason would rather see him re-elected than compromise their purity by voting for Romney. But that would be a good thing, not just from Obama's point of view, but for the future of American politics. Lesser-evilism should not determine our political choices. Every American -- even a reactionary lumpenbourgeois Tea Partier -- should be encouraged to vote affirmatively for whomever he considers the best candidate and whatever he considers the best policies instead of negatively to prevent an alleged worst-case scenario by settling for the next-worst choice. Progressives should be equally fearless; anxiety about a Republican takeover should not compel them to vote for a President they consider inadequate in nearly every way. Those who cheer the prospect of a GOP split solely because it might guarantee Obama's re-election should ask themselves why they should be more easily satisfied and more ready to settle for a dubious option than right-wingers may be.