18 October 2013

Selling disintermediation

How's this for a word of the day? Disintermediation is the word used by conservative activist Matt Kibbe to describe the threat facing the Republican party over the next three years. In fact, Kibbe claims that the process is already under way, and has been under way in the Democratic party as well.

Look in your online dictionaries and you'll see that disintermediation basically means "doing away with the middleman." In Kibbe's context, the middleman is the party committee, the entity that customarily decides who a party's candidates will be, or who gets to run in a primary for a nomination. Disintermediation will occur if grass-roots groups find ways to recruit and fund candidates who reflect their views without support or interference from party committees. Kibbe warns that the disintermediation process could send the GOP "the way of the Whigs" should the party fail to win the 2016 presidential election. Kibbe assumes that such a defeat would prove one last time that moderate and conservative Republicans are incompatible, that the moderates will always manage to force upon the party a national candidate incapable of rallying the invisible majority which since 2004 if not earlier, in the Tea Party imagination, hasn't found a sufficiently conservative candidate to vote for despite the persistent existential threat of Democratic liberalism. The failures of McCain and Romney have been blamed on their failure, as relative moderates within the right-wing universe, to inspire sufficient numbers of the invisible majority to vote. A prediction of disintermediation depends on. It follows, once you've drunk enough tea, that once the right wing cuts itself loose from the moderates and presents the people with a "real" conservative candidate, the invisible majority will carry that person irresistibly to victory, though presumably without many of the moderate votes the failed Republican candidates received in recent elections.

Disintermediation doesn't sound like a bad thing in the abstract. Americans were always expected to nominate candidates in a grass-roots fashion, albeit with the local notables manipulating things with more or less subtlety.  In ideal democratic circumstances, we shouldn't need middlemen to give us candidates. Such circumstances might leave Kibbe in the cold, however. Readers may recall that he is the CEO of FreedomWorks, a "conservative advocacy group" in MSNBC's description. Kibbe may envision himself and his organization as part of the grass roots, but usually when someone is telling you to do away with the middleman, he really wants to take the middleman's place. 

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Speaking in general terms, the more "conservative" (or "liberal" for that matter) your candidate is, the less mass appeal he or she will have.

My guess is that McCain failed because he was seen as too old, too established and too much of a warhawk, not because he wasn't "conservative" enough. Romney failed because he is seen as in the pocket of big business. He was "too slick"; too well packaged to be "real".

The failure of the republicans to win the past two elections is simply that they are incapable of producing a candidate that can appeal to their base and to the swing voters who seem to really decide the elections.