Blog Credo

The whole aim of practical politics is to keep the populace alarmed (and hence clamorous to be led to safety) by menacing it with an endless series of hobgoblins, all of them imaginary.

H.L. Mencken

Wednesday, May 4, 2016

The GOP Is Not Dead

Martin Longman is a very wise commentator.  I don't always agree with everything he says, but when I don't, he usually turns out to have the better of the argument.

He notes, correctly, that the GOP isn't dead, but the long awaited crack-up with movement conservatism is here.  An exerpt:
As Barro notes, “All three of the supposed “legs” of the Republican coalition stool — libertarian economics, social conservatism, and militarism — are at risk from Trump and the populist-imitator candidates he will spawn.”
There’s a sense in which few Republicans truly care about all three legs of the stool, but simply tolerate one or two of them to get the other(s) that really motivate(s) them. But virtually all Republicans care passionately about either fiscal or social conservatism, or about international affairs and conservative principles in foreign policy.
Trump will force loyal Republicans to support or tolerate or grudgingly accept many of the things they’ve spent their whole lives warning us would lead to armageddon. When that happens, many of them will change their core beliefs and their standards for what a Republican should be and what they should represent. When it’s over, assuming he loses, the party will never be the same. They will never go back to those three legs of the stool. And, if he wins, the party will definitely be transformed into something unrecognizable.

Movement conservatives began to take over the party under Goldwater and then launched the Reagan Revolution.  They have controlled the party ever since.  But as Pat Buchanan proved, as the baffling primaries of 2012 proved and Donaldus Magnus now proves, the appetite for doctrinaire conservatism is waning, even among Republicans.

Trump has never embraced the social conservatism of many rank-and-file Republican voters.  How will they respond to Trump shrugging off the Great Bathroom Panic of 2016?  Trump rejects the arguments of free trade and saner immigration laws, alienating the Wall Street wing.  Trump's foreign "policy" is already causing defections among neoconservatives.

I can understand the appeal of Trump to certain segments of the electorate.  But I wonder how much certain constituencies within the GOP can stomach Trump.  And where will they go?

I had a few ex-students lamenting that they finally get to vote for President, and they have no one to vote for.   A canny politician with Libertarian leanings might be looking at that ballot slot right about now.

Overall, the GOP that emerges from this election will be very different than the one that elected two Bushes.  As a Democrat, I am glad, but more importantly as an American, I fear what may emerge.

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