What If they Don't?

by digby

Everyone seems too be applauding the "Palinization" of the GOP. Lou Dobbs may run for president. Wingnut firebrand Marco Rubio may beat moderate Charlie Christ in Florida. Tom Tancredo just threw his hat into the ring for Colorado Governor. Liberals seem very excited about this prospect as if it's self-evident that just as NY 23 laughed off that dead doorknob Hoffman, the country will always think these people are fools.

But what if they don't?

In Palin's case I think it's probably true, not because she is a bigger fool but rather because she is a woman and a different kind of right wing celebrity. But I honestly wonder if it's a good idea to not take these people a little more seriously. There are some rather stark historical examples of people assuming that a right wing demagogic movement is so ridiculous that a majority could never back them --- and that assumption being proved catastrophically wrong.

And even if they are a bunch of fools who can't possibly ever be elected by a majority, is it wise to ignore the fact that as this movement moves farther and farther to the right it leaves a vacuum that the political establishment expects the Democrats to fill? Whenever the Republicans move right, the villagers expect the Democrats to do the same. Indeed, with the Republicans taking themselves completely out of legislation, the Democrats have pretty much assigned members of their own ranks to take their place in the negotiations. They have the ability to move the right without the country even realizing it's happening.

I'm not saying that we should panic. These people are politically weak in their own right. But when I see the liberal gasbags on TV blithely dismissing this as if it''s impossible that Americans could ever fall for such lunacy, I feel a little frisson of alarm. I've read too many accounts of people who, 80 or so years ago, complacently made the same assumption. And the whole world found out that under the right circumstances even the most civilized nations can throw in with the crazies.