The Republican Party is a dysfunctional party as far as the ruling elite is concerned. Despite efforts by its leadership to fashion a budget deal, it was shot down in the House by Tea Party zealots. The Republican Party is suffering the consequences of courting the Christian right wing and, most recently, the right-wing fringe that dominates the Tea Party. Right-wing social policies on abortion, immigration, gay rights, and the environment, combined with anti-elite rhetoric, have created a massively dysfunctional primary process where Ron Paul can step forward as a major candidate in Iowa. At the same time, fierce anti-government, anti-deficit, and anti-tax policies have created a vicious anti-poor rhetoric.
The failure of the elites to find an experienced and reliable big business candidate able – and willing – to go through the primary process is being played out in the Republican primary fiasco. Not only has a fierce anti-government mood dominated the debates, but this has been combined with an anti-establishment and anti-wealthy elite mood as candidates try to appeal to angry Tea Partiers. Republican candidates have tried to circle the square of being anti-poor, anti-government, and anti-elite at the same time.
Each bizarre right-wing candidate has collapsed to be replaced by another, while Romney attempts to be the lone man standing. Yet the anti-Romney votes have been the majority in each primary. Clearly, there is a right-wing base in the party that is looking for expression with a candidate other than Romney. As of this writing, Gingrich has dented Romney’s candidacy and just won the South Carolina primary with 40% of the vote. In doing this, he has established himself as the strongest candidate for the right-wing vote. It is hard to say how long this race may go on and the damage this might do to Romney if he is the eventual candidate.
If Romney manages to sew up the primary race, as is still probably most likely, then there will be a base for a right-wing candidate. In the event of Gingrich or an extreme right-wing candidate winning the primary race, one can expect many sections of big business to look elsewhere for a guardian of their interests in the coming stormy period. This is already expressed in the creation of Americans Elect, which will be discussed below.