Feature

GOP voters make the best of a bad hand

Pundits have been quick to cite this long primary race as proof that “Republican America has gone crazy.”

Ross DouthatThe New York Times

Republican primary voters deserve a bit more credit, said Ross Douthat. Pundits have been quick to cite this long, shrill, and vacuous primary race as proof that “Republican America has gone crazy.” But in fact, GOP voters have behaved with admirable restraint. A crazy party would have nominated one of the “bomb-throwers and ideologues,” like Michele Bachmann and Herman Cain, but instead they were dismissed before the race got going. A crazy party would not have recognized Rick Perry as a flawed candidate. Having rejected those unpalatable choices, the electorate is now gathering around the “safe option,” Mitt Romney. That choice shows that GOP voters aren’t crazy, but simply stuck between generations. Between the Bush administration’s tarnished officeholders and “future stars” like Chris Christie and Marco Rubio, Republicans have been forced to choose from a “roster of retreads, mediocrities, and cable-news candidates.” Instead of eloping with a “right-wing Mr. Wrong,” they’ve sensibly chosen the “slow trudge toward the altar with Mr. Good-Enough.”

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