It’s taking a long time, but others are finally starting to echo what I’ve been saying for a while now – the GOP has two wings, the socially conservative and the fiscally conservative, or as Adam C at RedState calls them, the libertarian wing and the social conservatives.
The libertarian emphasis on individualism and personal responsibility made the Mountain West the original Republican Stronghold. It took an alliance with the social conservatism in the South to win a majority, but neither group constitutes a majority in and of itself.
Speaking as someone born and raised in that “swing region” and having spent a lot of time engaged in its politics, I can tell you Adam and Ryan Sager are right on the money with this.
I’ve commented on this repeatedly and always couched it in terms of moderation, but I have been rethinking the semantics. I chose the term moderation because of the stigma that the social conservatives have applied to the fiscal conservatives who are socially moderate. Just the other day a friend and I were talking about those “squishy” Republicans in the Western US. I pointed out that I would be one of those.
Sager’s piece is very good in the evidence it offers that the red “swing” states of Arizona, New Mexico, and Colorado do not resemble the southern red states at all. That’s a piece of the political math that is often overlooked by the GOP.
Political strategists in our party tend to think that the libertarian wing of the party (“the squishes”) will fall in line behind the southern wing because the alternative (the big-government Dems) are entirely unattractive. That’s only likely to be true until the Democrats are able to gain enough traction with personal freedom arguments to peel off seats in the West and force a GOP-esque coalition with the liberal wing (thus bringing the Dems to the middle and leaving the GOP twisting in the extremist wind).
Judging by the comments Adam received in reply to his post, though, I think there are a lot of GOPers who can’t see the writing on the wall here.