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Long-Term Galvanisation

A number of political analyists are seeing the recent struggle over contraception funding as crazy-awesome ninja planning by Obama, designed to either prolong the struggle between the Republicans as long as possible or to boost Santorum, who's unelectable (we hope). That may be true; while my vote (as a Socialist, not a Democrat) is guaranteed to be strategic and likely will go to Obama unless wherever I vote makes it safe to push the envelope (maybe voting Green if I can), were it Obama versus Santorum I would consider getting much more involved in pushing Obama than I would were it Obama versus Romney; Santorum is intelligent and reprehensible, Romney's just a bit worse than the alternative. The differences between the vulnerabilities that Romney and Santorum have are interesting; we're able to talk about economics and morality pretty well using Romney as a talking point (which is particularly interesting to me as a socialist).

I am worried about the long term effects of Santorum possibly getting the nomination; just as democrats have had to deal with the demoralising effect of having uninspiring centrists as their party leaders (while competing with conservatives who are trying to push American society as far to the right as possible), whatever is promoted as the party standard will strongly influence the next generation's center. If Republicans have to root for Santorum, are we galvanising the republicans in the same way as shaming BushJr did? (Note that I'm not suggesting criticism should be muted, but rather that we should be hoping not to see radicals pushed onto the ticket for the sake of having them be easy to defeat)