How does an argument move from the "fringe" to the mainstream? The easiest way is if those already considered mainstream figures in good standing begin making it. Right now, people on the left are making an argument -- that Republicans are intentionally doing everything they can to sabotage the American economy (at least by standing in the way of efforts that might improve it) in order to maximize their chances of winning the White House in 2012. Let's put aside for the moment the question of whether Republicans are, in fact, doing this. As of yet, this argument hasn't moved into the mainstream. Kevin Drum explains:
Back in 2003, when the Howard Dean campaign was building up extraordinary momentum and capturing the fascination of the press, in large part because it harnessed this new-fangled thing called "the Internet," a movement among establishment Democrats popped up to stop this interloper. It was thought that he was too brusque, his politics were too far left (not only had he opposed the Iraq War, which all of the other candidates had supported, he even signed a bill providing civil unions for gay people!), and if he won the Democratic nomination, he would surely go down to defeat. So they started attacking him, and some even went so far as to raise money and run ads in Iowa against him.
Let's say you're a moderate New England Republican senator, and you're up for re-election in 2012. What looks to be your biggest political problem? Well, looking at what just happened to some of your colleagues, you've got a strong incentive to avoid, or if that's not possible, overcome, a primary challenge. That means doing stuff like this:
She was once considered the most likely Republican to vote for health care reform. Now, Sen. Olympia Snowe (R-ME) is joining scores of Republicans and conservatives in support of the Florida health care lawsuit's plaintiffs, challenging the Constitutionality of the law.
As you probably know by now, Republicans say they want to repeal the Affordable Care Act, but when you start asking them about the ACA's provisions -- like a ban on exclusions for pre-existing conditions, or subsidies to small businesses -- they'll invariably say, "Well, we don't want to repeal that. Just the awful socialist parts. We'll put that back in once we 'repeal and replace.'" The thing they do want to repeal is the one unpopular provision, which is the individual mandate to carry insurance. Unfortunately, the whole thing doesn't work without the individual mandate, which brings everyone into the system. (This is particularly true of the ban on pre-existing conditions.