Saturday, May 21, 2016

How Many End Of The Republican Party Articles Will We See Over The Next Year?


Trump isn't as "un-Republican" as people sometimes paint him. Like the House Republicans, Trump seems to have agreed to making repealing Dodd-Frank, a bill meant to protect Americans from Wall Street excesses. "Trump told Reuters in an interview Tuesday that he will produce a plan that’s 'close to a dismantling' of the 2010 financial regulation law that came in response to the 2007-2008 financial crisis." Trump doesn't expect voters to judge him based on policy as much as on entertainment value and some kind of patina of "strength." He's disdainful of policy and doesn't seem to have a grasp of it. For a self-centered sociopath like Trump, everything is just about him and what he can get over on a gullible electorate. Wednesday Sahil Kapur pointed out that making profits has always trumped principles and values for Trump. For example, "Trump has been tough on American companies that have moved jobs to other countries. That hasn’t stopped the presumptive Republican presidential nominee from investing in them."

Matt Taibbi pinpointed the end of the GOP as the moment the RNC kissed his ring after Cruz's defeat in Indiana. It was, wrote Taibbi for Rolling Stone, "the death of the modern Republican Party," a party "undone by a surge of voter anger that was in significant part their own fault. In recent years, the Koch brothers/Tea Party wing of the GOP had purged all moderates from the party, to the point where anyone who was on record supporting the continued existence of any federal agency, said Mexicans were people, or spoke even theoretically about the utility of taxes was drummed from the candidate rolls. Their expected endgame here was probably supposed to be the ascension of some far-right, anti-tax, anti-government radical like Scott Walker, or even Cruz. Instead, this carefully cultivated 'throw the bums out' vibe was gluttonously appropriated by Trump, who turned the anger against the entire Republican Party before surging to victory on a strongman's platform of giant walls, mass deportation and extravagant job promises that made the moon landing or the Bernie Sanders agenda of free college look incrementalist in comparison."

Taibbi seems to think they got exactly what they deserved. He wrote of Trump that he's "a seemingly unrepentant non-Republican more likely to read Penthouse than the National Review." He managed to paint his last-standing Republican opponent, Ted Cruz, as "the son of a presidential assassin's accomplice, and himself an infamous uncaptured serial killer... During the campaign, surprising numbers of Americans were even willing to believe Cruz might also be the Zodiac Killer. The infamous Bay Area murders began two years before Cruz was born, but 38 percent of Floridians at one point believed Cruz either was or might be the Zodiac. Were they serious? In an age when Donald Trump is a presidential nominee, what does 'serious' even mean? As ignominious an end as this was for Cruz, it was a million times worse for the Republican establishment. The party of Nixon, Reagan and two Bushes had needed a win by Cruz, a man not just disliked but loathed by the party elite, to stave off a takeover by Trump."
Trump's naked disdain for the less-glamorous American flyover provinces he somehow keeps winning by massive margins continued to be one of the livelier comic subplots of the campaign.

From seemingly wondering if Iowans had eaten too much genetically modified corn to thanking the "poorly educated" after his Nevada win, Trump increasingly doesn't bother to even pretend to pander. This, too, is a major departure for the Republican Party, whose Beltway imageers for decades made pretending to sincerely prefer barns and trailers to nightclubs and spokesmodels a central part of their electoral strategy.

Not Trump. Hell, he went out of his way to brag about being pals with Tom Brady in the week before the Indiana primary, and still won by almost 20 points. Given the level of Colts-Patriots antipathy, this is a little like campaigning in Louisiana wearing a BP hat, or doing a whistle-stop tour through Waco with Janet Reno.

...After 9/11, it felt like the Republicans would reign in America for a thousand years. Only a year ago, this was still a party that appeared to be on the rise nationally, having gained 13 Senate seats, 69 House seats, 11 governorships and 913 state legislative seats during the Obama presidency.

Now the party was effectively dead as a modern political force, doomed to go the way of the Whigs or the Free-Soilers.

After Indiana, a historic chasm opened in the ranks of the party. The two former President Bushes, along with Mitt Romney, announced they wouldn't attend Trump's coronation at the convention in Cleveland. Additionally, House Speaker Paul Ryan refused to say he would support the nominee.

There were now two Republican Parties. One, led by Trump, was triumphant at the ballot, rapidly accruing party converts, and headed to Cleveland for what, knowing the candidate, was sure to be the yuugest, most obscene, most joyfully tacky tribute to a single person ever seen in the television age. If the convention isn't Liberace meets Stalin meets Vince McMahon, it'll be a massive disappointment.

From there, this Republican Party would steam toward the White House, which, who knows, it might even win.

The other Republican Party was revealed in the end to be a surprisingly small collection of uptight lawyers, financiers and Beltway intellectuals who'd just seen their chosen candidate, the $100 million Jeb Bush, muster all of four delegates in the presidential race. Meanwhile, candidates whose talking points involved the beheading of this same party establishment were likely to win around 2,000.

Like French aristocrats after 1789, those Republicans may now head into something like foreign exile to plot their eventual return. But whether they will be guillotined or welcomed back is an open question.

This was all because they'd misplayed the most unpredictable and certainly most ridiculous presidential-campaign season Americans had ever seen.

If this isn't the end for the Republican Party, it'll be a shame. They dominated American political life for 50 years and were never anything but monsters. They bred in their voters the incredible attitude that Republicans were the only people within our borders who raised children, loved their country, died in battle or paid taxes. They even sullied the word 'American' by insisting they were the only real ones. They preferred Lubbock to Paris, and their idea of an intellectual was Newt Gingrich. Their leaders, from Ralph Reed to Bill Frist to Tom DeLay to Rick Santorum to Romney and Ryan, were an interminable assembly line of shrieking, witch-hunting celibates, all with the same haircut-- the kind of people who thought Iran-Contra was nothing, but would grind the affairs of state to a halt over a blow job or Terri Schiavo's feeding tube.

...In the weeks surrounding Cruz's cat-fart of a surrender in Indiana, party luminaries began the predictably Soviet process of coalescing around the once-despised new ruler. Trump endorsements of varying degrees of sincerity spilled in from the likes of Dick Cheney, Bob Dole, Mitch McConnell and even John McCain.

...Democrats who might be tempted to gloat over all of this should check themselves. If the Hillary Clintons and Harry Reids and Gene Sperlings of the world don't look at what just happened to the Republicans as a terrible object lesson in the perils of prioritizing billionaire funders over voters, then they too will soon enough be tossed in the trash like a tick.

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