October 29, 2016


'We Are in for a Pretty Long Civil War' : In back rooms and think tanks, Republicans are already mourning their party--and plotting the fight over who's going to be in it after Trump. (JULIA IOFFE, October 28, 2016, Politico)

This isn't the first time the Republican Party has looked death square in the face. "I remember the Wednesday, Thursday, Friday after the 2012 election, I was in Richmond with Eric Cantor, calling people, asking, 'What did you see? What did you hear?'" Heye told me. "Overwhelmingly, it was, 'We have a real problem with immigration and Hispanics, and we need to fix it.'"

These were among the conversations that led to the famous 2012 autopsy report, in which the GOP examined the reason for its loss in that year's presidential race, and outlined suggested fixes, most of them having to do with outreach to women and minorities. The document's fame, however, lay more in its breach than its content. "Every day we moved past the election, it became less a problem for individual congresspeople and more a national problem for the RNC," Heye explained. "There's nothing I disagree with in the autopsy, but it was unenforceable. The majority leader's secretary couldn't make a particular congressional office reach out to the Hispanic or black or Jewish community in their district. It was all, 'Mind your own business, you don't understand our congressional district.'"

Four years later, "breach" would be a kind word to describe what Trump did to that optimistic autopsy report: His campaign ran precisely against it, and swept the ground clear of its shreds. This time, the party doesn't really need an autopsy, said Russell Moore, evangelical theologian and president of the Ethics and Religious Liberty Commission of the Southern Baptist Convention. "We've known the cause of death while the patient was still alive on the table." [...]

[Soltis Anderson], like several other young Republicans I spoke to, cited Avik Roy, a Republican health care wonk who advised the campaigns of Mitt Romney, Rick Perry and Marco Rubio, and who is now increasingly distancing himself from the GOP. "These are people who are much more interested in ideas and policies than the jerseys they're wearing, and, until now, the Republican Party has been best vehicle for their ideas," Soltis Anderson said. "I think Avik Roy is the kind of model of where you'll see people go if they feel the party is not the right vehicle anymore. It has liberated folks who care more about the policy than about just getting Republicans elected."

Eric Teetsel, a prominent young evangelical and the executive director of the 2009 Manhattan Declaration that trumpeted the sanctity of life and heterosexual marriage, expressed similar views to me in an email. "Not so long ago, I stood in the back of an event in South Carolina watching Marco Rubio, Tim Scott and Nikki Haley together and thought, 'This is my Republican Party,'" Teetsel, Rubio's former director of faith outreach, said. "With Paul Ryan as speaker, rising stars in the Senate like Ben Sasse, and the influence of Arthur Brooks and Yuval Levin, the future of the conservative movement is bright. Whether the Republican Party is the vehicle for that movement is to be determined." [...]

Other, older Republicans, don't see a need to panic--in part because they have a less idealized view of the party as an ideological bulwark. Given their long experience doing battle for the GOP, they actually think some optimism might be in order. "Back up and look at the map of 50 states," says Grover Norquist, head of Americans for Tax Reform, the activist who has badgered hundreds of Republican politicians into signing a pledge never to vote for tax increases. "There are 31 states with Republican governors. Thirty-one where we have both houses of legislature; twenty-three where we have both houses of the legislature and the governorship. The Democrats have all of seven states where they have all three. That is a depth of Republican strength that is enduring. We really ought to have 60 senators on a bad day. The focus on the presidential race alone gives people a strange view of the miracle strength modern Republican Party." [...]

And, like Norquist, these other older Republicans, see Trump as "sui generis," a freak storm after which things return to normal. "Every one of Trump's problems is self-inflicted," Norquist says. "There isn't a single issue on which he agrees with Reagan, [Mitch] McConnell, or Ryan that's been a problem for him in the race." Whit Ayres, a veteran Republican strategist, says Trump won more on celebrity than politics. Elsewhere, his politics, stripped of his star power, have proven a loser against traditional conservatism. "If you look at candidates who tried--the guy who ran against Paul Ryan got 16 percent," says Ayres. "The guy who ran against Rubio got 18 percent. These guys aren't even scratching, even though they ran explicitly as clones of Donald Trump. The idea that Trump has started a movement or is in some way representative of a lot of other politicians is absurd." [...]

People like Soltis Anderson and Heye recognize that there are now three disparate factions that find themselves squabbling under the Republican tent--the Trump fans, the stand-pat establishment, and the conservative Jesuits--and, in order to form the coalition the think tank head described, they need a strong leader, a savior of sorts. "With a good leader, we can incorporate all three of those," says Soltis Anderson. "At some point, parties tire of losing," says Wehner. "It happened to Democrats in the '80s. What happens? Along came Bill Clinton and the New Dems. Same thing with Tony Blair and the Labour Party in England." These leaders reversed their parties' losing streaks, Wehner argues, with "policy changes, stylistic changes, and key moments that signaled to the country that they were a different kind of party and a different kind of candidate." Trump is not that leader; he is a false Messiah. A better leader, hope Wehner and Soltis Anderson, will come along. "The hope is that they can merge and not become an incredibly fractious fight," Wehner says.

Our partisan squabbles, especially the internecine ones, are so bitter precisely because so many of us agree on policies.  There's not much left over except identity politics. 

The fact is that even within the GOP, 60% want amnesty/immigration reform and an astonishing 40% want to replace Obamacare with straight up National Health.

The Clinton/Blair comparison on the left is pluperfect.  The GOP will reclaim the presidential race--as early as 2020--by simply running a Bush or Bush clone (compassionate conservative large state governor).

Posted by at October 29, 2016 8:50 AM