Daily Bread for 1.25.23: Kinds of Republicans — Kinds of Conservatives

Good morning.

Wednesday in Whitewater will be cloudy with a bit of snow and a high of 33. Sunrise is 7:15 AM and sunset 4:59 PM for 9h 44m 07s of daytime. The moon is a waxing crescent with 18.8% of its visible disk illuminated.

 On this day in 1915, Alexander Graham Bell inaugurates U.S. transcontinental telephone service, speaking from New York to Thomas Watson in San Francisco.

Charles Homans reports Will the Real G.O.P. Please Stand Up? A National Power Struggle Goes Local (‘In one deep-red pocket of rural Pennsylvania, three warring factions each claim to represent the Republican Party. Tensions boiled over in a scuffle over a booth at a farm show’):

BUTLER, Pa. — Zach Scherer, a 20-year-old car salesman and Republican activist in Pennsylvania’s Butler County, decided to run for a seat on the county commission this year — a move that ordinarily would mean seeking the endorsement of local Republican Party leaders.

In Butler County, this raised an unusual question: Which Republican Party?

Last spring, the officially recognized Butler County Republican Committee was divided by a right-wing grass-roots insurgency, then divided again by a power struggle among the insurgents. There have been a lawsuit, an intervention by the state Republican Party and a dispute over a booth at the local farm show.

Butler, a rural county in western Pennsylvania where Donald J. Trump won nearly twice as many votes as Joseph R. Biden Jr. in 2020, now has three organizations claiming to be the true tribune of local Republicans. All of them consider the others illegitimate.

“There is, in effect, no committee,” said Al Lindsay, a four-decade veteran of the local party, who was ousted as committee chairman last year.

Some of the dispute in Butler, Pennsylvania is about control over institutional resources, yet it is true in many places that Republicans are divided both institutionally and ideologically. 

From FREE WHITEWATER see The Kinds of Conservatives in Whitewater (‘traditional, transactional, and populist’). It’s fitting to use conservative and Republican as synonyms, as there are no meaningful numbers of moderate or center-left Republicans. They are all conservative.

The two main groups among these three in Whitewater are the transactionalists and the populists. The transactionalists are best understood as a special interest group (landlord, banker, public relations man, these ‘Greater Whitewater’ types) and the few apologists inane enough to flack for them in common council sessions. They’ll make any sort of deal, with anyone. Although the transactionalists are conservative, self-promotion guides their moves. They’ll form expedient deals with anyone if they can gain, and they’ll break any deal just as quickly. Guilty pleasure: I always enjoy hearing them speak, as every word is revealing. 

The populists, by contrast, are conservatives for whom the transactionalists had no time until populist numbers started to swell. The populists are MAGA types, and they’re looking for a reinvigorated Trump (assuming that’s possible) or the next best thing (DeSantis, although he’s not the Trump replacement they may think he is). They often feel that others have disregarded or insulted them.

Note the contrast: while this libertarian blogger has written dismissively about town squires or notables or elites, it has been as a joke or spoof on others’ grandiosity. The populists, by contrast, will sometimes write, speak and act as though there are such important people who are wrongly ignoring or disrespecting them. That’s nutty-crazy: there are no true town squires or notableselites, or very-important-people in Whitewater. Whitewater is a small Midwestern town — anyone walking around thinking himself or herself elite is delusional. That delusion is sad and ridiculous and satirical.

The populists carry with them a susceptibility of narcissistic insult from others although those others are no better or worse than anyone else. (Their desire to be acknowledged is so strong that, sometimes, a few flattering words or a task-force assignment is enough to co-opt the needier among them.) All this head-shaking, arms raised, and shouting because someone else criticized them or didn’t give them their way? An earlier generation of conservatives better understood the value of stoicism and calculation. 

Differences among conservative groups are common in Whitewater, Wisconsin and Butler, Pennsylvania and places between.

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