Monday, November 13, 2017


Frank Rich believes that the Republican Establishment can't possibly come back, even in a post-Trump era, because Donald Trump represents a large group of angry sans-culotte populists who pre-date him (they're the same voters who flocked to George Wallace, or their descendants), and they won't go away now, even if Trump leaves office soon:
The idea that the pre-Trump GOP will make a post-Trump comeback to vanquish these forces is laughable. Old-line Establishment Republicans in the Senate and the House, even very conservative ones like Flake, are engaging in self-deportation, as Mitt Romney might say, rather than face a firing squad in the primaries. The Trumpists will with time expunge the rest, including Paul Ryan (whom Bannon has dismissed as “a limp-dick motherfucker who was born in a petri dish at the Heritage Foundation,” according to Joshua Green in The Devil’s Bargain). It’s a replay of the purge of the 1960s, when the reinvented GOP shaped by Goldwater, Nixon, and the “southern strategy” shoved aside the likes of Nelson Rockefeller and George Romney. Given that 89 percent of Republicans voted for Trump in November and that 80 percent of today’s GOP voters reliably give Trump favorable approval ratings no matter what he has said or done since, that means only a fifth of those Americans identifying as Republicans are (possibly) “Never Trumpers.”
There's truth in this, but what Jeet Heer wrote a hile back is more persuasive to me:
What’s striking is that this so-called war between the establishment and the populists always ends in the same way: with the establishment absorbing elements of the populist agenda to win elections. Seen in this light, these so-called insurgencies or civil wars never really hurt the Republican Party. Rather, they give it more energy by riling up the base.
It wasn't so long ago that there were prominent pro-choice Republicans. (As late as 2008, Tom Ridge, a pro-choice former Pennsylvania governor, was on the GOP's vice presidential short list.) Now there are none. It wasn't long ago that some Republicans still believed in addressing the problem of climate change. (The McCain campaign supported cap-and-trade.) And let's not even talk about immigration. The party has moved to the right on these issues, and most Republicans who were once more moderate on these issues have fallen in lockstep.

It will happen again with Trumpism. Jeff Flake and Bob Corker are gone, and Paul Ryan and Mitch McConnell may follow, but some of 2018's targeted Republicans will survive primaries, possibly by making themselves Trumpier. Some of the new Bannonites, like the original round of Tea Party candidates, will prove not to be pitchfork-bearing radicals. (Remember, Marco Rubio was a 2010 Tea Party champion.) The GOP will get worse, but it will survive.

Martin Longman thinks it won't survibe, because Republicans aren't delivering tax cuts or Obamacare repeal for the GOP's traditional plutocrat base. He's trying to imagine a post-GOP future:
Monied interests are going to conclude that the GOP can no longer serve their purposes. That’s already happening, which is why you see so many Republicans openly admitting that their donors have had it and will not continue to fund their social conservatism unless they get their corporate tax cuts. For our coastal elites, the cultural humiliation of being aligned with Trumpism is already getting too great to bear, but the GOP’s inability to dot the i’s and cross the t’s of basic governance will take things over the edge....

The first step is for the money to walk away from the Republican Party. Once they decide that the conservative movement has gone far past its expiration date and curdled in the box, they’ll get about building something new. Maybe they’ll build it first in California and New England and the Mid-Atlantic.
I can't see that, although there are popular Republican governors in Massachusetts, Maryland, Vermont, and New Hampshire. But these are governors who are willing to meet liberal Democrats partway. That's not what the plutocrats want.

They want someone who can slip full-strength conservatism past the voters in the guise of moderation. There were a lot of GOP presidential candidates who could have done that in 2016 -- Rubio, Jeb Bush, Chris Christie -- but none were able to win. The plutocrats aren't going to settle for much less.

They still haven't ruled out the possibility that Trump and the current crop of Republicans can deliver for them. They're withholding money from Republicans in a tough-love effort to compel them to pass tax cuts. But if they'd really had it with Trumpism, they'd be working nearly as hard as Tom Steyer is to defenestrate Trump. They still like the Trump administration's tax and budgetary proposals. And they love the fact that so many departments and agencies are being run by former industry executives. In addition, they appreciate the efficiency with which Republicans are approving judges who'll rubber-stamp Rpublican gerrymandering and vote-suppression efforts.

Maybe this will all change if Democratic wins in 2018 get them more than a handful of governorships and more seats in the House of Representatives. The GOP is a mess right now, but I don't believe plutocrats will abandon it -- not unless it falls into the hands of post-Trump populists who actually mean it when they say they favor ordinary people and distrust corporate elites. But that will never really happen, will it?

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