Sarah Palin and the Great GOP Cleavage of 2009

Oh, I am not talking about THAT cleavage (clean up your mind).  This is about the Great GOP Cleavage of ideology that is happening today, right now.

Lining up for the firing squad on the Far Right of your screen are the Tea Bagging Birthers led by the Winkin’ Wasslin’.  Going Rogue is the first foray in what I believe is a series of books Sarah Palin will be using to make her case for the White House.  This book is about putting her into perspective.  Later books will be about the direction she wants to take the GOP.  I’ll leave it to others to pay for her book in both the cash to possess it and the time to read it.

Lining up in the Center of your screen are the moderate Republicans with nowhere to go.  I could make the snarky case this group is led by dynamic people like Joe “Droopy Dog” Lieberman or John “Dr. Frankenstein” McCain.  Their supporting cast would include folks like Tom Ridge, Rudy Guliani, Kay Bailey Hutchison, and both Senators from Maine.  People who have some level of credibility in the GOP, but the general public can see them as reasonable people, even if they don’t agree with them on issues.  I will even put castaways like Arlen Specter in this group.

Right now, today, 30% of the electorate deems Sarah Palin White House worthy.  That means 70% of the remainder are going to be split out with Democrats, Independents, Moderate Republicans, Greens, Blue Dogs, Purple Rain People, whatever.

Today, right now, give about 50% to Obama and the Democratic Party.  Blue Dogs can easily split from the Donkey Party and bind themselves into another group.

That leaves about 20% of the electorate with nowhere to go.  The idea of Smiling Sarah in the White House is as much as an anathema to these folks as is an Obama Presidency.

This may be the best opportunity for a third party to come about in our lifetimes.  The question is who gets the furniture and kids as we watch this very public divorce proceed.  I’ll buy popcorn.  This will be better than Jon and Kate.

I am using the word Cleavage not only as a fun word to use, but defining it as the point where the GOP begins to really split apart.  The NY-23 race is the first real fissure.  Disaffected elephants in the room started the Conservative Party for their one candidate to run.  That works great in NY for a single race. 

We are talking here about a movement within the GOP that will split it apart. The Cleavage Moment will be defined by a formal declaration of another party for the Far Right Wing (the Conservative Party?) or some other mechanism supported by the Moderates (the party to be named later?).

Election Laws favor a 2 party and only a 2 party system. 

There are some smart people on both sides of this divide.  They are going to need to do some mechanics.  While they are in the fight for the soul of the party, which appears to be leaning towards the far right, some people need to get on the stick to begin creating another entry to the two party system.

There are side effect benefits for the GOP to do this.  For example in Pennsylvania, a number of elected offices are held by minority party members.  These offices are by design.  A number of counties have 3 commissioners where only 2 may be of a given party.  That leaves one minority member as a token watchdog.  In the polling places there are the offices of Majority and Minority Inspectors.  Both candidates run for the post of Inspector, the person who wins the most votes, regardless of party, is the Majority Inspector (they appoint the paid operators for the day).  The person who gets the next most votes AND is not a member of the Majority Inspector’s Party becomes a Minority Inspector (they appoint the paid clerks who check people in).

There are places in Pennsylvania that I can see the Democratic Party being completely shut out of the political process if the GOP splits into 2 distinct parties.

Here is an example how the system is rigged, systemically.  In 2006, Green Party Candidate Carl Romanelli needed 67,000 signatures on nominating petitions to gain access to the statewide ballot to run for the US Senate.  The 67,000 figure was generated by calculating the 2% of the previous election totals, pulling numbers from the air and asking the Witches from Macbeth to work on their Eye of Newt.

The Democratic and Republican Parties have a $200 filing fee with a 2,000 signature threshold.  So for the new party to get into gear, they will need to do over 30x times the work of an existing party.  Kind of an interesting take on equal protection under the law, isn’t it? 

As an aside to this story –  Romanelli, desperate to get into the race, actually contracted with GOP operatives to get signatures for his nominating petitions.  It gets even weirder from there.  The Democrats challenged Romanelli’s petition in court.  Romanelli got bounced from the ballot because of suspect signatures (surprise, surprise) and an $80,000 fine for attempting to get on the ballot.  The ONLY other person to be fined in such a way was Ralph Nader trying to run for President. 

More weird stuff, 2 years later, the Attorney General in Pa indicted the Democrats involved in challenging the signatures, accusing them of doing so on tax payer time.  This scandal was dubbed Bonusgate.  Last week the former GOP Speaker of House of Representatives did a perp walk as part of the Bonusgate investigation.  I am waiting to hear if there is any connection to the Romanelli race.  This is a big story on the horizon.

As far as the mechanics of what is happening now, both sides in this GOP ideological war would do well with a strategy of establishing new digs in case they lose control of the main portion of the party structure.  Neither side can guarantee a win in this case.  Both sides of the GOP need to hedge their bets by bringing legal barriers down now if they are going to be viable next year or in 2012.  I am sure the Keystone State is not unique with the 2 party stranglehold. 

Here’s to watching videos of some great GOP Cleavage…

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