Florida and the Future of the Republican Party

If you will allow your normally humble correspondent to put his visionary cap on for a moment, looking forward there are two very divergent paths the Grand Old Party could take.  Romney just dealt Newt a heavy blow in Florida, but remember Newt still leads the national polls.  And the riddle that is proportional voting wrapped in the enigma that is Ron Paul means this thing is still up in the air.  

And still up for grabs in some sense -- if that is, Romney is unable to deal Newt a decisve knockout blow and this slugfest drags on all the way to a brokered convention.  Which isn't as crazy as it sounds, considering Romney has barely ever broken 30% in the national polls, no matter how hard the establishment tries to push him.  

Ultimately it'll come down to this: how much mud is Newt Gingrich willing to sling?  And how willing are Republican primary voters to get in the muck with him?  If he truly is obcessed with becoming a transformative figure, and Republicans decide they like crazy, we may witness the beginning of the end of the Republican Party this election cycle.

Nuts?  You betcha -- but definitely in the realm of possibility, if still a bit of a black swan at the moment.  Consider: 

1) Say the Primary is still being slugged out in late March.  American's Elect will then be geering up for its first of its kind, online primary -- backed by a $22 million warchest.  

2) Compared to the ugly, nasty, bitter slugfest going on -- this process will look positively radiant.  And if they manage to coalesce around a proven, charismatic leader who runs on a platform of pragmatically solving the challenges America actually faces (say Collin Powell), it could quickly get legs.

3) Then some of the deeper trends would kick in.  One of the few things less popular than President Obama right now is Republicans.  And the only thing voters agree on these days is that the establishment is broken, and that both parties need to get their act together.

This political landscape, though, is just one way some of the deeper fundamentals -- namely the broader fraying of our society's basic social contract -- at play could surface into the mainstream conversation.  Bottom line: America is due for a political realignment.  Although it's an off chance, this years crazy Republican primary may be just the thing to make it happen.

You never know.