Republicans’ Reliance on Populist Anger Is Not a Long-Term Strategy

Populist anger is too volatile to build a party around.

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By Scott Galupo, Thomas Jefferson Street blog

If you have a thing for recapitulations of news and punditry that reflects with maximal negativity on the Obama administration, Commentary blogger Jennifer Rubin is like a daily vitamin.

Vitamins make me queasy.

Recently, she wrote:

The successful GOP candidates of late—Chris Christie, Bob McDonnell, and Scott Brown—have embraced, not ridiculed, the activist base. They have wholly rejected the Obama agenda. They have looked at the larger picture, the big themes, and grasped that there is a Center-Right coalition to be forged in opposition to the liberal-statist agenda that has unnerved even some liberals.

Dear Lord.

I was born and raised in New Jersey. I was ecstatic to see Christie elected there. But I seriously doubt his election had much to do with a "center-right coalition forged in opposition to the liberal-statist agenda." Jersey Republicans, notoriously RINO-ish, would not recognize such a thing if it did exist, and they certainly wouldn't use such florid language to describe it.

Lo and behold, Governor Christie—who, to his great credit, is making extraordinarily tough budgetary decisions—has seen a 10-point dip in public approval, according to a Fairleigh Dickinson University/PublicMind poll out this week.

This goes to the point I've been harping on around here: Republicans are riding a tiger right now. That tiger is populist anger. It has lately taken the form of opposition to Obamacare. But until unemployment subsides, it will find something else to devour.

The ideological content of populist anger is often irrelevant. It's a transitory, fungible, volatile thing.

And it's assuredly not the stuff of a long-term center-right coalition.