They’re out there, lurking in the shadows. Outside a recent Santorum rally, a possible sighting only bolsters the Republican belief. They lie dormant, waiting for the perfect moment to strike. Once awakened, they are unstoppable. They are the Ultra-Conservatives.
They are elusive creatures, so counting their numbers is almost impossible. They don’t often appear in any exit poll data or political surveys. But the GOP believes they are out there, and that they exist in vast numbers (not unlike Nixon’s notion of the “silent majority” in the 1960’s).
The Ultra-Conservative is at the farthest right point of the political spectrum. These are people who think Barry Goldwater was a pussy. This is that key 18-65 male fallout shelter owner demographic. Though they don’t primarily focus on jobs or the economy, the mention of government spending is enough to spur a growl. But the threat of a socially liberal agenda will result in a mass gathering that can sweep any election, or so it has been told. Listening to Rush Limbaugh religiously, the very mention of abortion, gay marriage, or even women working outside of the home will send them into a fit of uncontrollable rage. It is thought that these people were the result of a cryogenic freezing experiment from the 1920’s (as well as being the probable spoiler for Fox’s Alcatraz.)
It has been theorized that the Tea Party’s modest success in 2010 was brought on by awakening these slumbering beasts. Never mind that this is the very same Tea Party who managed to torpedo the chances of the GOP to take the Senate. The sight of an army of shouty middle aged men with clever race baiting signs was enough to stoke the fires of passion in the breast of even the most discontented conservative. Now, two years later, the GOP once again searches for their trump card. “If these people stay mad enough” the logic goes “and the economy stays bad enough, we could win this thing!” Believing in their hearts that these warriors are the only means of success, the Republican presidential candidates have gone all-in pursuing this enigmatic constituency.
Both Rick Santorum and Mitt Romney are jumping at the chance lead the charge of these raging behemoths. The recent policy that made contraception available to women employed by religiously affiliated organizations rang bells throughout the entire GOP, but both candidates did not believe that was a significant enough trigger. Knowing the Ultras cared about more than just religious freedom, and both apparently having read Foucault, Rick and Mitt decided to wage war on contraceptive use in general, knowing how much these Victorian thinkers hated sex. Both candidates have since made further offerings, with Mitt claiming to be “severely conservative” and pointing out his record against abortion, while Santorum has pushed for women to not serve on the front lines of the military.
Clearly this is good strategy. If it weren’t, it would mean that the entire Republican party was trying to prostrate itself before a tiny fraction of it’s voters, at the risk of making themselves completely unelectable in the general election. There’s no way that seasoned political operatives would do something that stupid, right?
It’s all in the Ultra-Conservatives hands now. Both candidates have alienated themselves from the moderate Republicans and torched their chances with Independents, all to win the Ultra’s votes. If Rick or Mitt’s efforts are enough to spark the surge they believe will come from this shy species, one will surely unseat Obama in November. If their efforts are not enough, or if by some small chance they have over-estimated the size of this portion of the GOP, they are both just shooting themselves in their proverbial feet.
Santorum and Romney have made their beds, and now must lay in them, and ONLY lay in them. Any other activities would risk arousing the Ultras’ wrath!