Sunday, October 16, 2016

But That Was Another Country, and Besides That Party Is Dead

Me: Friends, Bloggers, Countrymen, lend me your ears.

Pinku-Sensei: What happened to the ears we lent you last week?

Me: Well I stuck them to my chariot.

Dinthebeast: But why?

Me: 'Cause they're chariot ears.

(much pummeling commences)

Fine, fine, I'll get serious here.

I come to bury the Republican Party, if to praise its worth before the madness struck in 1992 um 1980 okay 1968. It's at the point in our history now that with Trump sinking in the polls with no sign of recovery, and with growing likelihood that the Democrats regain the Senate and may even regain the House, we need to start wondering just what the hell the remnants of the GOP is going to do post-Election Day.

If I can hedge my bets, if Trump does indeed pull of an upset now - unlikely, not enough states will vote for him - the Party is still screwed because the twisted mindset Trump brings to the table would honestly bankrupt the party (and the nation).

If Hillary wins with a solid Republican Congress, the Party is still doomed because their ongoing obstructionist habits can't last (the demographics are finally turning against them).

And a big reason the Republicans are doomed happens because - for what I see of the party today - there is no sound or diverse leadership that can lead the party out of their blind obsessions. Whatever you think of Paul Ryan as Speaker, he's doomed. The same wingnut faction within his own House that ousted Boehner is going to want his scalp for "lack of fealty" to Trump and his failure to bring Obama (or Hillary) before them in handcuffs. And then things get nasty: Who can you picture among the elected leadership in the GOP taking control of this rampaging beast? Trey Gowdy?!

Don't take my word for it. Let's ask Bruce Bartlett at the Washington Post:

I was wrong. I now see that Trump’s candidacy has exacerbated the Republican Party’s weaknesses, alienating minorities, fracturing the base and stunting smart policy development. The party’s structural problems are so severe that reform is impossible. Even if Trump loses and the GOP races to forget him, the party is doomed. And very few of our leaders seem to care.
In the short run, it will be easy for Republicans to convince themselves that nothing needs to change. The establishment believes that Trump is an anomaly, an aberration. GOP leaders think the party’s next nominee will be a more typical politician who knows the issues, has well-developed debating skills and who will appeal to the elite and the Trumpkins. Someone like John Kasich or Marco Rubio...

You can already see the problem of leadership: Kasich and Rubio are NOT sound options for future leadership. Kasich doesn't appeal to the base (which is crazy because Kasich is a solid Right Winger) and Rubio's an empty-suit no-show at the job. And Trump is not an anomaly: He fit exactly what the Republican voting base wanted. You can't ignore that fact, not ever...

Back to Bartlett:

Many leaders also assume that Hillary Clinton is an automatic One-Termer. They think she’s incompetent, scandal-ridden and hell-bent on destroying the economy. They know, too, that neither party has held the White House for more than three terms in the post-World War II era.

Incompetent, no. Scandal-ridden, only because the GOP leadership made her so. And despite their differences in ideology, nothing Hillary promises will crash the economy the way the Republicans' Supply Side obsessions have done.

Let's take a serious look at history for a moment: the possibility of Hillary as a One-Termer. That is likely: Historically speaking there's been few back-to-back Two-Termers. However, those back-to-backs happened at a time - Jefferson, Madison, Monroe - when the two-party system died as the Federalists slid from power. And the Federalists died because - as the Republicans are finding out now - they failed to adapt and alienated a majority of voters outside of their regional power-base.

The Republicans came into this election cycle thinking that it was normal for parties to switch control of the White House like clockwork. It's not. Historically, parties retain control of the Presidency due to two things: 1) solid economic growth/stability or 2) terrible opposing parties. The Democrats stayed in control from Jefferson to Jackson thanks to the fall of the Federalists. The Whigs beat Van Buren because of the first major economic Panic caused by Jackson's bank-breaking. Republicans held onto the White House from 1860 to 1884 thanks to the Democrats being associated with treason (except for a stolen 1876 election, which still spoke to a weak Democratic Party unable to fight it out). Republicans retained the White House after Grover Cleveland's interruptions from McKinley to Taft due to the Yukon Gold Rush, Teddy's Progressive movement, and Taft's judicial sensibilities. The Democrats held on through an unheard-of four terms of FDR because the Great Depression was that huge an economic crisis and because of the Second World War, with Truman continuing that control on his own terms only getting kicked out because of a mismanaged Korean War and major recession at the time.

Basically, there's no predictable cycle of party control of the White House. For the Republicans to buy into that myth highlights part of their myopia.

Okay, enough side-track. Back to Bartlett:

But Clinton’s chances of being reelected in 2020 are better than Republicans think. Already, Democrats have a virtual lock on 18 states, giving them an almost automatic 242 electoral votes. States such as Virginia, Colorado and Florida routinely vote Democratic, too.

The Republicans wanted to fight their electoral battles using Demographics and Geography instead of the Issues. Well, now that's killing them. They've done such a wonderful job trying to sell their Southern Strategy to states that can't condone that kind of mindset that the Southern states are the only ones they might have left (and they're losing Georgia either this cycle or the next).

I've pointed out earlier that when it comes to guaranteed, lock-down states the Democratic Party (California, New York, Illinois with 104 EV) has a massive advantage over Republicans (Texas at 38 EV) that by the time you throw in the mid-sized states - Massachusetts (11), Pennsylvania (20), Maryland (10), Washington (12), Virginia (13) and Michigan (16) guaranteed for 72 additional EV to Democrats - that the next guaranteed state for the GOP with Tennessee (11 EV) doesn't help one bit.

There is currently no way for Republicans to break the strangleholds that the Democrats have on those Solid Blue states. The only way to do that is to change their messaging and ideology: The platform the GOP is selling now - anti-Immigrant, anti-women - gets them NOWHERE in California at all. (edit) Conversely, the Democrats can break the stranglehold Republicans have on Texas - their last main Electoral College anchor - simply by waiting for enough Latinos and women voters to ragequit the GOP over the Republicans' terrible ideology. And that can happen now or 2020. It's already just a matter of time...

Okay, just one more visit to Bartlett:

Eventually, of course, Democrats will become corrupt, will overreach or will bear the blame for things beyond their control, like a recession. They may foolishly nominate someone too far Left for the country, giving a Republican another shot at the White House. A strong leader could change the GOP’s trajectory, like Dwight Eisenhower did after five straight Republican presidential losses from 1932 to 1948. He put the party, as Conservative then as it is today (just read the 1952 platform) on a more Moderate, technocratic path that continued for a quarter-century through Richard Nixon (note: snerk) and Gerald Ford. A leader like Eisenhower might help right the GOP, attracting moderate voters and enhancing the party’s crossover appeal.

Wouldn't it be pretty to think so? That the Republicans could eventually lose their Far Right mindset and find another Eisenhower? If there is a GOP Savior to be had among the pandering Tax-Cut Slashers leading the party today (hint: there isn't)?

It's just not any time soon. Here's blogger PM Carpenter looking at how deluded the "rational" conservative leadership among the bloggers are going to be:

...What, then, is next for the GOP? Fortunate it is that Erick Erickson, formerly of, troubles to offer a template. Most unfortunate, however, is that his articulated vision as a fresh model is damn near incomprehensible.
Erickson's vision for his erstwhile party? It's the old Get-Washington-out-of-our-lives trope. "Voters are being held hostage by hollow promises … [that] Washington power will make their lives better," he writes. Washington was never meant "to be the center of all solutions. Republicans need to focus less on Washington and more on fostering local community..."

There's a slight problem with that: The Republicans have been shilling this "End Washington Control" snake-oil for 40 years. There is nothing new here. It's the same bland marketing ploy without even a fresh coat of paint on it.

Okay, back to PM trout-slapping Erickson:

One point he's inarguably missing is that, prior to the federal government's being what it is today, neighbors and churches and communities found themselves abjectly incapable of providing needed help in tough times. Prior to minimum wages, prior to Social Security, Medicare, Medicaid and the entire panoply of federal safety nets, local communities and state governments were far too strapped and overburdened to be of service to the acutely burdened themselves...
All this, Erickson dismisses, probably more from - I'll be charitable - willful blindness than innate fatuity...
Our former RedStater goes on to propose that a new Republicanism be "the party of religious liberty," as though religious Democrats and confirmed atheists aren't all for that...
And of course Erickson throws in the old Republican bugaboo of yet "lower taxes," which would of course would further gut the inarguable effectiveness of all the federal government does, which of course Erickson chooses not to see.
In short, little to none of what Erickson proposes is realistic. It's the same, old, unworkable model of reactionary smallness - the very refusal to cope with modern civilization that has plagued Republicanism for decades...

If Erickson's model for recovery is the only thing the Republicans have to work with, it's going to be the same damn mess that will fall apart again in 2020. No lessons learned, the same mistakes played over and over again expecting better outcomes. And most likely another con artist candidate trying to sell it all.

This is why I've called the Republican Party mad for years. And incompetent to boot.

Infidel753: Well, that wasn't much of a spectacle!

Batocchio: That wasn't even a monocle! Ho-ho-ho-ho!


Infidel753 said...

Even if such a would-be reformist Republican leader were available, I don't think he could save them. The circumstances are completely wrong. The party is a coalition of several incompatible groups which are becoming so ideologically rigid that they can barely tolerate each other's presence in the same party -- Christian fundamentalists, libertarian limited-government believers, the big-business wing, and the Trump crowd, whatever you'd call them (nihilistic populists?). Each group seems bent on purging the others out of the party after Trump loses. Everything points to fragmentation, not revival.

And Trump is not an anomaly: He fit exactly what the Republican voting base wanted.

And that's another reason they're doomed. The problem is the base, not the leadership. Just as a reformist leader like Eisenhower couldn't accomplish anything because the base wouldn't want him, the only reason Trump has become such a huge problem is that the base did want him. If he'd run for the nomination in a basically sane party, he'd have won maybe 2% of the primary vote and sunk without a trace.

Historically, parties retain control of the Presidency due to two things: 1) solid economic growth/stability or 2) terrible opposing parties.

And condition (2) is solidly in effect. On steroids. Even if the Republican party avoids fragmentation into its disparate factions, there's no reason to think the base in 2020 will be able or willing to rally behind someone viable like Kasich or Jeb any more than they were this time. The best they'll likely be able to do will be to nominate Pence -- he's a "normal" politician and may be sellable to the Trump crowd because Trump chose him for VP -- but a God-hates-fags theocrat is hardly more viable than Trump in a general election. Maybe less.

Yep, they're screwed.

Denny from Ohio said...

All they have is the "rigged election" and "conspiratorial media" whine to fall back on to save face in the eyes of the base, the ones glued to the TV for their opinions. Thankfully, Kasich will be gone from our statehouse so I can look forward to watching him flail again without being haunted by the thought of having him come back to Ohio.

Pinku-Sensei said...

LMAO! Glad to play a part in the comedic framing of this post. Of course, for musical silliness set in the glory that was Rome, there is always the original. Comedy Tonight!

dinthebeast said...

The Republicans are doomed until they get up off of their white centered mindset. The population is already majority-minority under the age of six. You can't win by demonizing votes you actually need. I have little sympathy for them and their fear of the base they have accumulated, mostly because us lefties were telling them it was a bad idea to court them the whole time, and as I remember it, being called traitors, fifth-columnists, and surrender monkeys for our trouble.

-Doug in Oakland

Paul W said...

Sorry Pinku but I always refer back to the Muppets Do Hollywood special with Lily Tomlin and Dudley Moore for some reason. "8 Billion Light Years For This?" Oh man, I'm giggling to myself again.

Green Eagle said...

Nothing really to add, but I just want to say that this is as good a treatment of this vital issue as anything I have seen in a long time.

Matt Osborne said...

Trump will be back, just watch. Donald Will spend the next three years as a kind of insult comic-slash-shadow president on Trump TV, feeding the Breitbart/Infowarz echo chambers as the new Ron Paul. He'll start out with a real war chest next time. What party stalwart could possibly defeat him at this point, much less four years from now? If they freeze him out, he'll just start his own UKIP-style party, but in a nation with totally different demographics from Great Britain.

I predict he becomes a gift that keeps right on giving.

Paul W said...

Matt, I kinda think Trump is a one-and-done player here. He's burned a lot of bridges to get this far and exposed himself to a lot of bad press and worse business situations. He's still got a handful of serious lawsuits weighing him down for one. The second is that he'll NEVER get that Trump TV deal going because honestly NOBODY will be crazy enough to buy into it (not with him mismanaging it into another bankruptcy). Third, his existing properties - his gaudy hotels - are losing guests and money: a kind of unofficial boycott where nobody wants to stay at one and where no organizations want to host conferences at them.

Trump may well try to run as a third party candidate in 2020 but half of his audience will have moved on and he'd have nothing left to campaign on but the same old rage.