It is hard to believe, but in just two weeks, American voters will all but determine the identities of the Democratic and Republican nominees for this year's presidential elections. It is hard to believe because today, after a handful of early primaries, neither side has even identified a frontrunner.
The open race, unprecedented in recent history, is a consequence of the fragmentation of America's political center. Ten years after Bill Clinton's impeachment; seven years after President George W. Bush's contested victory in 2000; and five years into the Iraq campaign, the cleavages both between the two major parties and within them have given purchase to candidates and policies that would have previously never made it out of the starting gate.
On the Republican side, this phenomenon is being played out in the campaigns of Congressman Ron Paul and Governor Mike Huckabee. On the Democratic side of the aisle, it is manifested in Senator Barack Obama's campaign.
Last Saturday Congressman Paul placed second in the Nevada primaries with 14 percent of the vote. Paul, who has raised some $20 million in three months, owes much of his mainstream support on both the Left and the Right to his pointed opposition to the war in Iraq. At the same time, his campaign's quest for mainstream respectability has been stymied repeatedly by the fact that neo-Nazi Web sites have embraced Paul's candidacy.
Paul's showing in Nevada was particularly impressive because a week before the Nevada primaries, James Kirchick of the New Republic published an in-depth investigative report on Paul's ideological background which showed that the neo-Nazis' support for him is not unjustified. Kirchick's report was based on a study of some three decades worth of mass-mailing political reports that have been published under Paul's name.
Kirchick's report, "Angry White Man" showed that between Paul's newsletters - whose articles are generally unsigned - and his public statements, there are strong indications that Paul shares the white supremacists' hatred of blacks, Jews and homosexuals. Moreover, Paul has spoken in warm support for the slave-owning Confederacy and the militia men who believe they must defend themselves against the Federal government and a web of global governance conspirators. He has also praised former Ku Klux Klan Imperial Wizard David Duke.
Before Kirchick's report, Paul outpolled Giuliani threefold in the early primary states. And after the report, he had his best showing to date in Nevada.
Less shocking, but still depressing is the candidacy of former Arkansas governor Mike Huckabee. Huckabee, a former Baptist preacher is running an almost purely sectoral campaign for the evangelical vote.
Caroline B. Glick is the senior Middle East fellow at the Center for Security Policy in Washington, D.C., and the deputy managing editor of The Jerusalem Post, where this article first appeared.
Be the first to read Caroline Glick's column. Sign up today and receive Townhall.com delivered each morning to your inbox.