I’m a big ol’ election junkie.  I’m not all that keen on following governments in office, because I’m sort of an extremist and it gets depresssing.  But elections are fun.  There’s sort of like sports, excet that the outcome matters and people (or at least the people here at Caecius) don’t look down on you for being a nut about them.

So right now is a hard time for me.  The Big Show has left town, and there are only four national elections let this year in the whole world.  Of these, only one is in a country whose politics I understand anything about.  So if I want to have even a rough idea of who to root for, I need to get down to some serious research.  There’s a bit of a thaw in the spring–three Latin American countries and another European one–but still, not much excitement until the European Parliament in June.  That’s a ways away.  

So I might as well start looking ahead to the future of American politics.  Let’s assume that, in 2012, Obama will be alive, well, and non-disgraced.  It’s possible he won’t be all these things, but it’s fairly unlikely, and there’s not much use trying to predict what will happen in that event.  

The next major electoral contest in the US is actually happening right now, and mostly behind closed doors–the race for RNC chair.  Normally, this sort of thing wouldn’t matter mcuh, but the Republican Party and the conservative movement are unusually leaderless at the moment.  This hasn’t really happened in a while.  During the 1950s and early 1960s, when the soncervative movement was just taking shape, Barry Goldwater held the informal leadership role.  But he wasn’t really credible after 1964, and so Nixon (previously known as a moderate) stepped into the role–not that he did much for conservatives in while in office, and not that they weren’t sort of pining for Reagan, who ascended in the mid-1970s.  After the Gipper retired, George H. W. Bush stepped in for a while, to be replaced by the Dole/Gingrich tag team.  But they introduced a real problem–they made Reagan-style libertarian conservatism look like a vehicle for heartless, hypocritical bastards.  So, around 1999, party elders lined up behind George W. Bush’s “compassionate conservatism.”  Which sort of got lost in the shuffle, leading to the very soul-searchy Republican primary season of last year–which ended inconclusively and led to a failure in November.  

So the options for RNC chair appear to be: Mitt Romney (maybe), Mike Huckabee (maybe), Newt Gingrich (maybe), Michael Steele, and some random no-name or another.  Gingrich probably won’t run unless there’s a groundswell of support for him, which … there won’t be.  So he’s a longshot.  Huckabee could get it, if the party decides they need to focus on social conservatism, and if he runs.  Both big ifs.  Ditto Romney, only replace “social” with “economic.”  So it probably won’t be a major national politician–for reasons I’ll get to in parts 2 and 3, there’s very little the Republicans can do right now except wait and hope Obama fucks up.  Of the remaining names that have been floated, the one that gets special mention is Michael Steele–former one-term lieutenant governor of Maryland who currently works with training young Republican candidates.  He’s black, which Republicans think will be enough to get black people to start voting Republican.  This seems to be not so much the case, if you look at actual elections involving actual black Republicans.  And he’s hardly an ideological visionary of any sort.  So … not a whole lot to worry about there.