Newt Gingrich has won the South Carolina Republican primary, capping off a remarkable comeback for his presidential bid that reshapes the trajectory of the battle for the GOP nomination as the race now heads to Florida and beyond.
The results mark the end of a tumultuous week in politics that saw Gingrich erase and then overcome the lead former Massachusetts Governor Mitt Romney had in the Palmetto State following his victory in the Jan. 10 New Hampshire primary. Gingrich came on strong in the closing days of the campaign, looking to rally under his banner the many conservatives unwilling to get behind Romney, who had sought to posture himself as the eventual nominee.
So what's happening in South Carolina? I think we're seeing the fruition of what happens when the GOP gets into bed with the extremist wing of their base. The Republican Party has been doing this since the Nixon Administration's "Southern Strategy," in courting the fears of African American racism, the rise of the Religious Right and fundamentalism in the 80s, the social issues of school prayer, abortion, flag burning, and gay hatred. The GOP has stoked the fires of hate speech through nationally-syndicated talk radio and television hosts of Rush Limbaugh, Michael Savage, Bill O'Reilly, Sean Hannity, and the entire Fox News propaganda outlet. And while this strategy was good for getting votes, the base has become even more radicalized and crazy--demanding that the GOP place their own looney candidates for president. Instead of voting for establishment GOP's amoral, corporatist, empty-suit candidate of Mitt Romney, the South Carolina Republican voters choose a three-time adulterer who can speak and connect to their kind of crazy. Florida is next on the list. Will the crazies continue to vote for Gingrich?