Andrew Sullivan’s got a post predicting a grand schism within the GOP after the election no matter who wins. I’d like to believe it, but I’ve got my doubts. John McCain is the obvious leader of a dissident faction within conservatism, but despite the best efforts of many Bush-doubters on the right he’s consistently declined to take the steps that would turn him into a real factional leader. I don’t say he needs to leave the party or anything, but he didn’t need to agree to go speak at the convention, either. Or, at least, he could have held out for some favors — a White House denunciation of Denny Hastert’s “you don’t know the meaning of sacrifice” bit or something substantive on the Paygo issue or anything, really.
Most mildly, if he wanted to, he could organize a sub-caucus for GOP moderates or a series of meetings between moderate congressional staffers and their potential allies in the think tank and intellectual worlds or just do something — anything — beyond making the occassional critical statement on television. But I’ve been watching for years and hoping that McCain, Hagel, Lugar, Snowe, Collins, Chaffee, and maybe some others would really do something to dissociate themselves from the administration and give sign of a determined effort to build a more responsible GOP and I simply haven’t seen any sign that it’s going to happen. Maybe — maybe — a big Kerry win will produce a crisis of confidence that leads to some changes, but if Bush gets re-elected, everyone will swallow their reservations and get back with the program.