Even a cursory glance of the speaker lineup at this year's Republican National Convention show's a virtual "who's who" of extreme politicians: Santorum, Huckabee, and McDonnell... Oh my!
It's a telling lineup for a party trying desperately to sell the talking point that they are all about "jobs, jobs, jobs." Highlighting these truly radical speakers and elevating once fringe figures with extreme views highlights what the Republican Party of 2012 has truly become - a party taken over by far-right zealots who distract with tax and deficit talk as they seek to legislate their own narrow definition of "morality."
And therein lies one of the most important, and under-reported, problems of a Mitt Romney candidacy. Romney doesn't lead as much as follow the loudest voices in his party.
The danger of a malleable Mitt Romney has been a common theme this election cycle. And for good reason:
"Romney has proven that whatever his core values are, they aren't strong enough to buck the rightward trend of his party. The mercurial, malleable Mitt would be a rubber stamp for dangerous, regressive policies put forward by a Republican party that wants to drive America back generations and erase hard won rights for many in our country."
Those regressive policies are on full display in this year's Republican Party Platform, which literally had the sections on social issues written by Tony Perkins, leader of the hate group the Family Research Council. Like the featured speakers at the convention, this anti-LGBT, anti-woman, anti-immigrant manifesto shows a party that has handed it's moral compass over to the most divisive and extreme voices once thought too be too far out of the mainstream.
Those are the voices that will be calling the shots on the Republican governing policies and controlling an easily swayed President Romney, something we have already seen in the campaign as Romney continuously capitulated to social conservatives to shake off the "moderate Mitt" attack from opponents.
Even Romney's choice of a running mate, Paul Ryan, should give sane and educated voters pause. Paul Ryan is the perfect face of today's extreme GOP, seeking to hide extreme social conservatism under talk of supposed conservative fiscal views.
His record echoes that of the Republican legislators in power in Congress and states across this country and that of the party's 2012 platform. They claim to be all about the economy and jobs, yet their actions and legislative records speak of a different agenda to push our country's social progress back decades by attacking women's rights, LGBT people, and the social safety net that are part of the very fabric of our country.
And anyone who thinks a strong willed Vice President and vocal party can't shape a malleable President need only look back three short years to the influence of Dick Cheney on George W. Bush. Sometimes, a VP isn't even a heartbeat away from the Presidency.
So as the Republican party marches forward speakers at their carefully orchestrated convention, look at the message they are sending. Listen to the loudest voices in their party that are given a national platform, from Governor Bob " Forced Ultrasound" McDonnell to Mike "Chick-Fil-A Appreciation" Huckabee to Rick "Man on Dog" Santorum.
These are the voices calling the shots for the current party and shaping the agenda of a Romney presidency.
(Romney/Ryan caricature via DonkeyHotey on Flickr)