The 2012 campaign for the Republican nomination for president has provided a clear indication of the shape of post-Citizens United politics in America.
This week, Mitt Romney avoided the embarrassment of losing his home state's primary, but not by much. The presumptive GOP nominee's campaign continues to sputter along, unable to win over the party's base. He blamed the lack of excitement on his unwillingness to "light my hair on fire" (who would want to inflame such a perfect coif?), but it likely has more to do with his inability to stop firing off tone-deaf comments like the latest ones about his multiple cars and his NASCAR team-owner pals. Luckily for Mitt, Rick Santorum keeps speaking his mind, revealing a candidate who thinks Obama is "a snob" for promoting higher education (despite his having more degrees than Ann Romney has Cadillacs), and that the government "should get out of the education business" (despite accepting thousands in government aid for his kids' home schooling). The level of discourse, unlike the trees in Michigan, is definitely not "the right height."
So what do we make of the Arizona and Michigan primaries? One thing's for sure: Mitt Romney didn't win them per se. Rick Santorum lost them.
Welcome to the new Republican Party. The party of homophobic, xenophobic, racist, anti-science, anti-education invective and hateful demagoguery. The party of mean and nasty and anti-accomplishment.
The Republicans who have been tearing themselves apart have done so not over ideological differences, but rather in a fang-and-claw fight to see who can conjure the most reactionary image. It is the usual exercise in minimalism.
It is disingenuous at best for the Republican Party to say out of one corner of their mouth that our immigration system is broken, then do everything they can to stop any wholesale fix. Our states and our country deserve better.