Not by a long shot, but the Pennsylvania ex-senator’s victories in Missouri, Minnesota, and Colorado yesterday attest to the enduring strength of Buchanan’s formula: combine social conservatives with a blue-collar economic program, and you have a force that can threaten the establishment. Unfortunately for voters, Santorum isn’t really a break with the country-club set; as a politician, he’s stamped from exactly the same mold as George W. Bush. And while the coalition built around “Middle American” values can give guys like Mitt Romney or Bob Dole dyspepsia, it’s never been enough to deny them the Republican nomination.

Still, Santorum’s success shows the tectonic plates of the GOP are still in motion: social conservatives and the establishment aren’t completely fused, the establishment looks weaker than it has in 20 years (thanks to the lingering contamination of the Dubya debacle), and although all of this augurs ill for the party’s November prospects, it suggests there could be a reckoning before 2016 that will reshape the GOP’s identity. I’m not optimistic: Middle American militarism may once again prove the GOP’s lowest common denominator, but there are alternatives.

To see how this battle was fought, and lost, once before, be sure to check out “Buchanan’s Revolution” in the current TAC, as well as the book from which it comes, Timothy Stanley’s The Crusader: The Life and Tumultuous Times of Pat Buchanan .