September 30, 2019


What's the Matter With Republicans?: Trump has given them another chance to break away. Why won't they take it? (Peter Wehner, Sept. 30, 2019, NY Times)

In a sane world, the reaction of Republicans to the "memorandum of telephone conversation" between President Trump and the president of Ukraine, Volodymyr Zelensky, combined with the whistle-blower complaint filed by an intelligence officer describing a White House cover-up, would be similar to the response of Republicans after the release, on Aug. 5, 1974, of the "smoking gun" tape that finally broke the Nixon presidency. Republicans would begin to abandon Mr. Trump, with senior figures urging him in private and in public to resign.

This may be asking too much of Republicans, who have lost their way in the Trump era. One might hope that some of the party's elected officials would forcefully condemn the president on the grounds that there is now demonstrable evidence that he had crossed an ethical line and abused his power in ways even beyond what he had done previously, which was problematic enough.

But things are very different today than they were in the summer of '74. Mr. Trump was on to something when he famously said, during the 2016 campaign, "I could stand in the middle of Fifth Avenue and shoot somebody and I wouldn't lose any voters, O.K.? It's, like, incredible." What most people took to be hyperbole turned out to be closer to reality.

As we've written many times, the flow of Anglospheric politics has been the same for quite some time: the dominant party gets that way by being the most Third Way, but as the other party adjusts in the same direction in order to regain power, the holders react against those ideas.  Thus, Republicans rejected Reagan/Bush as Bill Clinton ran as a Republican (thus the Perot phenomenon); Democrats rejected the New Democrats as W got to their left; and the GOP turned on W as Hillary/Obama ran right.  The injection of open racism into our politics has warped these dynamics and prevented the GOP from nominating the natural successor to the popular political position of the English-speaking peoples, but it's likely, if not certain, that the next party leader will be in the Reagan/Bush mold, not the Trump.  Meanwhile, in the absence of ideas, the party is purely reactionary.

Posted by at September 30, 2019 12:00 AM