So what’s next on the agenda for the Republican Party after this week’s elections? The New York Times reports:
Despite Mr. Hoffman’s loss [in NY-23], many conservatives promised to press on with opposition to centrist Republican candidates. That vow intensified concerns among party leaders that the opportunities they see coming out of Tuesday’s results could be dimmed by intramural battles over whether to reach for the political center or do more to motivate the base on the party’s right.
….The debate has been fueled by a somewhat inchoate populist anger that has taken hold among grass-roots conservatives, encouraged in part by political leaders like Sarah Palin, the party’s vice-presidential nominee last year, and commentators like Glenn Beck of Fox News. In that sense, the divisions within the party extend beyond the traditional strains between the shrinking ranks of Republican moderates and the social and economic conservatives who have dominated the party in recent years.
As the party turns toward the 2010 midterm elections, pitched battles between moderates and conservatives — and between the Washington establishment and the conservative grass roots — are underway from Florida to Illinois to California. Conservative activists, emboldened after forcing out the moderate Republican nominee in a New York congressional race, said they will fan out nationwide and challenge Republican candidates whom they deem too moderate or insufficiently principled.
Well, good luck with that. Culture war purity battles may be adrenaline rushes for the Palin/Beck wing of the party, but they sure aren’t for independents, no matter how soured they are on the economy or how disappointed they are in the Democratic Party. They may be able to muster some short-term mileage out of all this, but it’s a long-term disaster.