The Unbridgeable Republican Split

As a chronicler of the Republican Civil Wars I’ve gotten a lot of entertainment value at watching the various factions come apart at the scenes.  One day, this will make a great PBS special narrated by Keith David.  Until then, I’ll do my best to jot down my observations in the hopes that screenshots of my blog will be shown while Mr. David narrates.

So I was listening to the Ricochet podcast and they were interviewing Avik Roy, a Republican health policy analyst who was with the Romney campaign and has written extensively on Obamacare. The subject was his recent interview with Vox about the soon to be death of the Republican Party.  That’s certainly a provocative and legitimate case to argue, but in this case I found it extremely self serving.  Roy blames nationalism, which he conflates with white nationalism as the reason for the GOP’s decline. Roy recounts one of the founding myths of the identity politics left; the “southern strategy” going all the way back to 1964 and the nomination of Barry Goldwater.  This leads him to the conclusion that the bulk of the GOP electorate is motivated by white identity politics rather than conservative principles.

As someone who’s been on political forums for years, the subject of the southern strategy comes up every few weeks as providing the imprimatur that Conservatives in general and Republicans in particular are racists, motivated by race, and thinking of nothing other than race.  Considering that’s a good description of the left, there is a lot of projection involved, but this is standard fare for the left.  What’s new is it becoming standard fare for Republicans.

Or should I say a certain type of Republican, the #nevertrumpers who’ve fought Trump all the way to the nomination, in a way they’ve never fought Obama or the Democrats.  But nothing seems to bring joy to the #nevertrump crowd like calling their fellow Republicans racists. So establishment types like Roy, who didn’t seem bothered by either the southern strategy or Goldwater’s nomination until the past year, are reaching for the same racial playbook that the left has used.  Now they can finally call someone racists, and if they’re lucky, win the approval of teen writers at Vox or some MSNBC reporter.  Roy isn’t the first GOPe who’s decided to throw the entire non-establishment GOP under the bus as racists.  Paul Ryan, Erick Erickson, and Senator Ben Sasse among others also tossed out the racist charge against fellow Republicans.

Noted anti-Trumpist and National Review writer Jonah Goldberg doubled down on Roy’s nationalism=white racism thesis last week in ‘New Nationalism” Amounts to Generic White Identity Politics.  Goldberg, a writer I’ve often admired and enjoyed his witty writing style, boils down his argument into probably the dumbest thing published in NR (not counting anything written by Katherine Timpf).  The argument basically boils down to observing that Trump’s support is mostly white.

That’s it.

Now it’s interesting to note that for both Roy and Goldberg (among many others) the keyword here is “Nationalism” as in nationalism being just another code word for white racism.  It’s almost mind-blowing that these arguments are coming from ostensibly conservative pundits. So I’m really unclear on what basis these two sides ever come back together again.

Imagine a scenario in which Trump loses and loses big, say more than Romney’s defeat, with a voter percentage of over 4% and an electoral blowout where Trump wins less than 200 electoral votes.  Will the #nevertrump crowd cackle with glee and then reach out their hand to everyone they’ve called ignorant hate filled racists for the past year and say, “On to 2020?”

Or imagine a scenario where Trump loses narrowly by #nevertrump margins such as Trump losing the vote in Utah due to Independent candidate Evan McMullin.  When it’s clear that the margin of victory was lost due to Republican establishment intransigence, on what basis would the people who voted Trump and really wanted to win this year, ever forgive those who spent a year trying to not only sabotage his campaign but denigrate his supporters?

Or this:  Trump wins.  The establishment and #nevertrump is discredited, but now that Trump has won they want to jump on the bandwagon.  Again, you have people who not only tried to sabotage victory and called everyone racist to boot, but now want to resume what they feel is their God given leadership roles in a movement they tried to destroy.  Is that going to be forgiven?

My feeling is whatever the electoral scenario; there is a divide in the GOP that is now permanent.  In 21st century America, calling someone a racist is throwing down the gauntlet. Politicians are used to hurling invective at each other and then hammering out deals, but these are attacks on the voting public; by presumably the same side. How are commentators like Roy and Goldberg ever going to support anything having to do with the GOP again when they’ve just smeared the majority of its voters as white identity racists?  And more to the point, why would they want to?  They’ve just identified the GOP as the racist party after all.

So whatever happens on Election Day, in a certain sense it’s over between these two factions of the GOP.  These are factions that, bad names and invective aside, have polar opposite policy goals.  The GOPe wants amnesty, open borders, and unlimited “free” trade; no matter how many US jobs are lost.  The Trump faction (which is numerically the far bigger faction) wants exactly the opposite. Where do they meet in the middle on policy?

These issues seem so fundamental that it’s hard to not see a major political realignment coming out of this clash.  The Republican establishment could find itself fleeing to the Democrats, turning it into an overtly free trade party.  Or maybe the Republican Party just splits into two parties (although I find that unlikely due to the US’s first past the post elections). Maybe the old left/right paradigm is breaking down into a new globalist/nationalist one.

George Will Endorses Hillary?

In one of the most bizarre opinion column’s I’ve seen from a noted conservative in a long time, conservative columnist and commentator George Will comes out of the closet to give a de facto endorsement of Hillary Clinton.  Speaking of Donald Trump,

“Were he to be nominated, conservatives would have two tasks. One would be to help him lose 50 states — condign punishment for his comprehensive disdain for conservative essentials, including the manners and grace that should lubricate the nation’s civic life. Second, conservatives can try to save from the anti-Trump undertow as many senators, representatives, governors and state legislators as possible.”

I cannot in my lifetime recall any prominent opinion columnist disavowing their party’s presumptive nominee that way.  This is certainly not the George Will I thought I knew, and I’ve read his columns for a long time; decades, and watched him on television nearly as long.  He was my favorite part of the roundtable of the ABC Sunday morning show This Week, back when it was called This Week with David Brinkley.  He always had some clever previously prepared quip to dominate the discussions when called on.  It was always appreciated to see an erudite and intellectual defender of the right on TV back in the days when it was fairly rare to see that on television.

And then he lost his damn mind.

Will has claimed that this election will be the first without a conservative running as the Republican nominee.  I’m not sure if most conservatives will agree with that.  I don’t recall most conservatives claiming Mitt Romney as one of their own in 2012.  If anything, he was considered a RINO that conservatives grudgingly supported because he seemed competent and was better than the alternative.  I find that hard to accept on its face.  Does Will really think Romney was a conservative?  But this time, Will thinks the alternative is actually better.

Position by position, Trump has been pretty similar to your average RINO. There isn’t a lot of difference between his platform and what Romney ran on. He’s not that interested in social issues, God, and not that interested in trying (or actually just saying and doing the opposite) to cut the government to the bone. Trump is everything that the GOP establishment has said it wanted for years, but then when they actually get it, they run for the hills.  Why is that?

I think both Will’s and the GOP establishment’s problem with Trump isn’t about actual political positions, it’s about style.  Trump is a loudmouth, a bit vulgar, and has a rapper’s taste in gold trim.  In short, Trump is a Prole with a billionaire’s wallet.  And if there is one thing working class Prole Republicans have learned this past year is how much they are held in contempt by the Republican Party.  This is less about political positions and more about who you would want at your cocktail party.  But it just shows not only how shallow Will and his fellow GOPe are, but how dumb.  The smartest guys in the room are not so smart.  Between Glenn Beck threatening suicide and Bill Kristol threatening to start his own Neo Con third party, you guys are not wowing me with sparkling intelligence.

As Will concludes,

“If Clinton gives her party its first 12 consecutive White House years since 1945, Republicans can help Nebraska Sen. Ben Sasse, or someone else who has honorably recoiled from Trump, confine her to a single term.”

No George, as I’ve written extensively, there is no wiping away after each election and everyone starts from zero to make their case to the electorate.  We’re tribal now you’ve just helped sabotage your own tribe.  My advice is to stay with the Democrats now that you’ve crossed over.  A sad end to a brilliant career, but hey, you’ve earned it.

 

 

RINO’s in Winter

Mitt Romney went insane earlier today, launching an attack on GOP front runner Donald Trump, in an effort by the Republican Party to sabotage its own front runner and ensure a humiliating defeat this fall for a party that has fetishized defeat as a noble virtue.

Or at least that’s how it looks to me.  Apparently GOPe has decided that they would much prefer another President Clinton to the possibility of actually winning anything, and will take down their own party to make sure they cruise into the November election to a humiliating Goldwater-like defeat by splitting the party.

And for what?

It’s hard to grasp this split is simply over policy differences. Position wise, Trump is a moderate Republican.  In spite accusations to the contrary, Trump is no right wing zealot.  Instead he, as an analysis piece in the Washington Post points out, he is a “textbook moderate.” The weird thing is, if you break it down issue by issue, Trump is a RINO, the exact type of Republican the establishment should love, and the exact type they’ve foisted on the Republican electorate in the past, and the exact type that they’ve always said was the only electable choice.

So what’s different? Except for trade, Trump is running on Romney’s 2012 platform. Now before you say, immigration, Romney ran on “self deportation.” The health reform plan that he released today is almost identical to the one Romney ran on. I can’t remember when a candidate has ran on a platform so identical to his failed predecessor. Is giving up bad trade deals that important to them? Or is it just a matter of style? Trump is a “short fingered vulgarian” after all. Or is it just that he’s running without any donor support and needs nothing from the GOPe?

Inquiring minds…

In the meantime, important GOP establishment “thought leaders,” inspired by Mitt Romney’s bout of suicidal mental illness, are planning their own vivisection of the Republican Party.

I can think of a name for the new party; the Whigs.  The future of the Republican Party is starting to look like it’s past.

 

 

Why Trump?

Forget Super Tuesday.  The Florida Republican Primary is March 15th and I cast my absentee ballot for Donald Trump, and nobody is more surprised than I am.  If you had told me a few years ago that he would have been my candidate, I’m pretty sure I wouldn’t…couldn’t have believed it.  The loudmouthed TV guy; the birther?  That’s my candidate?  Clearly a lot of things have changed in the past couple years to lead me down this path.

First of all, Trump isn’t a perfect candidate; far from it.  Prior to his entering the Presidential race, I was aware of who he was, but wasn’t otherwise interested in him or his mixture of business and celebrity; the Trump brand, or his show, The Apprentice.  And I particularly wasn’t interested in his birtherism.  I hate conspiracy theories and I hated the fact that a PUMA inspired Democratic conspiracy theory from the 2008 Democratic Primary race got pinned on Republicans.  Too be sure a lot of people on the right fell for that malarkey, but Trump garnered a great deal of publicity by promoting it and playing it as if it was a well crafted publicity stunt, which I suppose to him, that’s exactly what it was.

Trump has continued to say things that are ridiculous on its face even this far into the Presidential race. Trump’s claim during the CBS debate that Bush lied about WMD in Iraq is absurd.  However Rush Limbaugh’s theory, that it was a play for Democratic votes in an open primary state, does, have a ring of plausibility.  In any case, I don’t regard it as a factually correct statement and that debate highlighted much of the criticism of Trump as legitimate, that he’s a thin skinned hot head who shouts before he thinks.

But…in spite of all of those flaws and many others, I voted for Trump in the primary.

The reasons are multiple, but I can jot down a few bullet points:

Trump might win; no other Republican can: For Conservatives, it’s over.  I’ve noted multiple times that the demographic time bomb has gone off and all things being equal, Republicans won’t win another Presidential race.  Donald Trump is the rare bolt of lightning that might actually flip that script. He’s bringing new voters into the primaries and has a good chance of doing that during the general election.  He also has a platform that has cross party appeal. Would I like to have a more standard conservative to vote for? Sure, but we’ve already crossed the Rubicon on the ability of such a candidate to actually win a general election. It’s not a choice between Trump and Cruz, it’s a choice between Trump and Hillary.

If I ever want to see what a Presidency by someone who owes absolutely nothing to donors, this is my only chance. Given the freak out of GOPe, it’s obvious that many in the Republican establishment would much prefer a Hillary to a Trump.  With Hillary, you get the same old same old, but with Trump, he owes no one in the establishment anything.  It’s a totally unprecedented state of affairs in the political world; a President who actually owes nothing to the donor class.  Imagine, ambassadors and other appointees selected because of qualifications instead of donations?  We’ve never had anything like that, and are unlikely to have that again in my lifetime.  So just once I would like to see how that would work in real life instead of fantasy.

Economic Nationalism. When Trump declared his candidacy, his political platform blew me away.  He actually had a platform that was popular, and was untouched by any of the other multiple candidates; no amnesty and protecting jobs from bad trade deals.  It seems a program ripe for cherry picking by one of the other candidates, yet no one did, because, as I predicted, there were no donors who were going to fund such a campaign.

No Amnesty, no how. I’m done voting for amnesty supporting Republicans. Sorry Rubio, but I’m not giving you another chance to betray me.  Ted Cruz might not betray me on amnesty but he also would never be President.  If through some miracle he were to get the nomination, he would go down in Goldwater like flames in the general election. But Trump bet his campaign on immigration, so I think he means it.  I want the wall, and I don’t care if it has a giant T on it.  The Cucks won’t build it, but Trump might.

I’m sure a Trump vote will be a hard vote to swallow for many conservatives, but think about this:  What have conservatives actually conserved?

Nothing.

They’ve lost every battle, for decades.  We’ve had multiple Republican Presidents and Republican lead Congresses, yet government is bigger, more controlling, and more expansive than ever.  No promise Conservatives have made has lasted beyond Election Day.  So I’m really not risking anything.  Look at the Republican Congress and Senate I helped vote in.  They’ve been busy as bees helping pay for Obamacare and fulfilling President Obama’s budget requests.  So if that’s what I get with a Congress with a larger Republican majority since before the Great Depression, I don’t see that I’ve got anything to lose.

But potentially a lot to gain.