The electoral success of the Republican Party in recent decades has been built in part through a fusion of disparate groups, free-marketeers, foreign policy hawks, and Christian religious conservatives.
In a recent column, GOP “Fusionism” Comes Un-Fused, Robert Tracinski notes an important difference in the dilemmas facing Democratic and Republican voters in the ongoing primary season. For Democrats, while there are minor and subtle differences of substance among the front-running candidates, voters are left trying to choose between candidates who differ largely in style (especially for Clinton and Obama; arguably less so with Edwards). Many Republican voters are left trying to discern which candidate they dislike least (something long familiar to progressive Democrats).
“So consider the line-up: if you're a pro-free-marketer, you've got Rudy--but you can't trust Romney, you know McCain is dangerous, and Huckabee denounces you as a member of the "Club for Greed." If you're a hawk, you've got Rudy and McCain and maybe Romney--but Huckabee sounds too much like Jimmy Carter. And if you're a religious conservative, you're thrilled with Huckabee, but you're suspicious of McCain, you don't trust Romney, and Rudy is at best barely tolerable. There's no fusion here. There is certainly an intersection between the hawks and the pro-free-marketers--but there is no intersection that joins them to the religionists. This is not an accident. There is no such intersection in this election because the secular and religious concerns of the right are, in fact, incompatible. Fusionism is failing because its basic premise--that the moral foundations of free markets and Americanism can be left to the religious traditionalists--is false.”