What might a post-election Republican party look like?

Posted: October 13, 2016 in Political musings, Popular Culture et al
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After an increasingly likely trouncing by Hillary Clinton, which might extend a long way down the ballot paper and might even – in the fevered dreams of a few ironed-on Democrats anyway – result in Democrat majorities in both houses of Congress, although we think that unlikely – the “Grand Old Party” is going to have to do some very serious thinking about it’s future direction.

It is not at all improbable that the party will actually splinter beyond repair, and the right in American politics will find itself much like the Centre and Left in Britain, where the Conservative Party currently looks unassailable by an Opposition split between a Labour Party which is completely riven with internal discord much as the Republicans are now, with about another 20% or so of the vote shared out between the vaguely centrist Liberal Democrats, the Greens, and the Nationalists in Wales and Scotland.

With a “first past the post” electoral system for its main elections, just like in America, any major splits on one side of the traditional two-sided model of adversary politics can very quickly result in a long-lasting hegemony for the more stable side.

Which is why we are interested in Evan McMullin, the ex-CIA operative taking Trump votes in Utah. An independent conservative who calls himself “the opposite of Trump”, he is giving the Republican presidential candidate a run for his money in Utah, a state that has reliably voted ‘red’ for more than 50 years.

Evan McMullin was once the chief policy director of the House Republican Conference, but he decided to leave the party after he realised the GOP’s problems “are too deep” to resolve in this generation’s lifetime, he told NBC News. His platform now is based on differentiating himself from the main party candidates, who he argues are more similar than they are different from each other. A similar siren call in Australia – which has proportional voting in its Upper House (Senate) has seen a clutch of smaller parties and independents seize the balance of power from the two major parties, with as yet uncertain results.

The issue is at stake, of course, is have the divisions in the Republican party simply become too overt and too fundamental for it to recover?

Image: Evan McMullinMcMullin, (left), a Brigham Young University graduate, former CIA officer, investment banker and congressional aide, certainly thinks so. And it seems a large number of his local electorate agree with him.

“The short-hand is I believe both Trump and Clinton are from the left side of the political spectrum in most ways,” he said. “Both want to grow the size of the government. I’m the only conservative in this race. I favour a limited government.”

His alternative governing views, and his Mormon faith, have attracted so much support among Utah voters that in a survey conducted earlier this week by Salt Lake City-based Y2 Analytics, McMullin was in a statistical tie with Trump and Clinton.

The survey, conducted after lewd comments made by Trump in 2005 surfaced, showed Clinton and Trump tied at 26 percent, McMullin with 22 percent, and Libertarian Gary Johnson holding steady at 14 percent, according to Utah’s Deseret News.

The support, McMullin said, is as much about his policies compared to Clintons’ and Trump’s as it is about his character. “I think the American people know that both of these options are awful, and they’re looking for something better. That [Trump] tape really crystallised that sentiment for a lot of people. I consider myself the opposite of Trump in a lot of ways, both in terms of a lot of policies, and in terms of temperament and judgment,” he said.

McMullin, along with his running mate Mindy Finn, doesn’t have much of a shot at actually getting elected President — he’s only on the ballot in 11 states and a write-in option in 23 others — but political experts say his rise in Utah is notable.

“This is completely different than anything we’ve ever seen,” Christopher Karpowitz, co-director of the Center for the Study of Elections and Democracy at Brigham Young University, told NBC News. “I think there is just widespread frustration with Donald Trump and really with both of the candidates from the two major parties, so Utahns, including many who have typically voted Republican, are casting about for some other alternative.” McMullin, Karpowitz added, fits a “particular set of needs in this state: people who don’t feel like they can in good conscience vote for Trump, but they’re not ready to vote for Hillary Clinton, either.”

But political watchers aren’t ready to predict a win for McMullin in Utah, which hasn’t strayed from its Republican roots since 1964 — even with big-name Republicans such as Rep. Jason Chaffetz and Gov. Gary Herbert withdrawing their support for Trump in recent days.

“I still think it’s unlikely that he takes the state of Utah,” Jason Perry, director of the Hinckley Institute of Politics at the University of Utah. But for Clinton and Trump, he said, “I think it’s going to be closer than anyone could have expected.” And losing the state’s six Electoral Votes could seriously complicate Trump’s ability to win the 270 needed to win the White House.

Whether he wins or not, McMullin says he fears for the future of the GOP.

“I seriously doubt the Republican party is viable as a political vehicle going forward. I think it will shrink in size, I think it might become a white nationalist party if Donald Trump supporters remain active after the election,” he said. “It’s time for a new generation of leadership.”

The interesting thing for anyone who can manage to look at the matter dispassionately is that both major parties in the USA are, of course, coalitions of the willing, but at the moment the Democrats are doing a much better job of yoking together their party, which ranges widely across traditional white collar voters who prefer an interventionists government but who hold conservative social views, socialists, urban radicals, environmentalists, social liberals, right over to really quite conservative characters like Clinton herself. The burying of the hatchet between Clinton and the populist “socialist” Bernie Sanders has been accomplished with panache despite dire predictions of widespread abstentions by his supporters.

The distinct strands in the Republicans include traditional centrists who could easily find common cause with the right of the Democrats, the religious right whose concerns are largely social, hard-right small-government “trickle down” Friendmanites, libertarians who combine far right economics with far left social values, Tea Party populists who detest Washington and want a grab bag of policies that mainly coalesce around “Leave me alone” and “Cut my taxes”, and near-fanatical States’-righters who want to re-write the constitutional settlement altogether.

rats-ship-aThe difference is that following years of internal strife between the centrist party leadership and the bands of loud and (for some) exceptionally (at least superficially) attractive Tea Party followers, the Republican Party had almost given up any pretence of being one party. And the selection of Trump – an act of political suicide in our view, an opinion we have maintained all along since his unlikely candidacy was touted – has now simply made the split more obvious than ever, as legions of rats leave the sinking ship in droves.

The dire problem for the Republicans is that, as we said, the American electoral system does not reward anything other than the creation of two coherent power blocks. Whereas in Europe you can afford to have a multiplicity of right wing parties trading preferences in a PR system, and then devising a working coalition in Government, the American system simply doesn’t offer that option. And as the system is essentially Presidential, anyway, that election invariably comes down to a choice between two candidates, as this year.

In the days when the contest of ideas in America was basically between two centrist parties, albeit with differing traditions, things were much simpler. But perhaps because of the much greater influence of a massively increased media market constantly deluging us with more and more “opinion”, or perhaps just from a generalised exhaustion amongst the electorate, who feel that both sides have taken them for a rise and the system – as far as them benefitting from it, at least – is broken, those days are over.

We are in uncharted territory. And right now, the Good Ship Republican is the one heading towards the rocks fastest.

And a system permanently leant towards one side of the political compass is not good for democracy, or any country. Those on the right in America need to some some hard thinking.

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Comments
  1. gwpj says:

    I think that the GOP will split and shrink, with one small group representing the “core” of a conservative (Paul Ryan) membership, and the other representing racist whites. My died-in-the-wool
    republican great Aunt Minnie Billings would shudder if she were still alive today.

    Like

  2. underwriiter505 says:

    And my feeling is that if they can keep all the racists together, then they can keep the party together. It wasn’t racism that started the rat-jump, and it wasn’t just misogyny either (Ryan’s comments are just as misogynistic as Trump’s, they are just on the other side of the coin.) It was the admission of actual sexual crime. Apparently they can handle any amount of swindling, but they can’t handle being associated with rape. But they can also handle any amount of racism. No one “important” left over David Duke.

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  3. Nakakagigil says:

    Gracious, how will the GOP ever endure its post-election crack-up? That’s the one Stephen Yolland believes will leave the Party permanently fractured, unable to pick itself up off the floor from the horrific drubbing it will have taken at the hands of Hillary Clinton and the Democrats, the drubbing that will have left the Party having lost not just the White House but the Senate and maybe even the House of Representatives. Oh, the humanity!

    Here on Earth, beginning in 2017, the GOP will control the White House, the Senate, the House of Representatives, all Supreme Count picks for the next 4 years (which will cement a high court majority for a generation), 34 state governor seats, 68 of 98 state legislative chambers, complete legislative control in 33 states, complete control of executive and legislative functions in 25 states, and executive and legislative control of more than 85% of counties. The Democrats will be locked out of power in Washington and will control just 16 governor seats and 13 state legislatures.

    At the end of 2016 voting, Republicans had won 10 of the previous 12 House elections, making 2006 and 2008 the anomalies rather than portents of the future. Beginning in 2017, the GOP will control governor seats and complete legislative control in 25 states. The Democrats will maintain this level of control in only 4 states, California, Hawaii, Delaware, and Rhode Island. Clinton lost 194 of the 207 counties that voted for Obama in either 2008 or 2012. After the 2016 election, Democrats will occupy fewer elective offices in the nation than at any time back to the 1920s. This will allow the GOP to wield the whip hand in legislative redistricting after the 2020 census, which will have enduring electoral impact for the next generation just as their electoral trouncing of Democrats in 2010 gave them the upper hand in this decade. So that will make it two decades in a row that the GOP, destined for extinction in the fevered imagination of progressives, will control electoral outcomes at the federal, state, and local levels.

    A case illustrating the scale of electoral wipeout involves Elliott County in rural Kentucky, which had never once voted for a GOP candidate at any time in the prior 144 years. It overwhelmingly supported Obama in 2008 and again in 2012, giving lie to the anticipated knee-jerk accusation of it being a bastion of white sheet hooded racism [look at the deranged comments above for validation of that knee-jerk reaction]. But in 2016, the county not only flipped to the GOP, it obliterated Clinton, going 70.1-to-25.9 for Trump. For the first time since 1921, the GOP won control of Kentucky’s House of Representatives, completing a clean sweep of the governor’s chair, the Senate, and the House, something that had not happened since the Reconstruction era just after the Civil War. An astounding 17 Kentucky House seats were flipped in the 2016 election. The Kentucky House was the last legislative chamber in the South to fall, after which The Washington Post observed, “Democrats are now basically extinct in the South.”

    In the 2016 election, Hillary Clinton and indeed all Democrats couldn’t run away from Obamacare, Syria “Red Line” fiascos or the Iran Deal fast enough. Their futile attempts to convince anxious voters that the dreadful 1.6% real GDP economy was in splendid shape were met with anger, blank stares, or derisive laughter. There was nobody advocating expansions of deficits, debt, government tinkering, Solyndra-style statism, green energy programmes, or other road-tested totems of political Leftism that had animated the Party’s discussions in 2008. Those ideas had become political poison when the 2010 midterm rout occurred and by 2016, were invoked only by GOP candidates to fire up opposition or offered as a laugh line. House Democratic leadership members, beaming with pride in March 2010 at the signing ceremony of the Obamacare bill, assured the Party faithful that the measure would grow in popularity as the years wore on, and that voters would come to understand which Party was responsible for it. They were half right. The only time Obamacare was ever invoked in the 2016 campaign was when a GOP candidate wished to tar a Democrat opponent hoping to weaken their electoral prospects. It worked like magic. Obamacare was an albatross around the necks of Democrats. GOP candidates never tired of reminding audiences which Party was responsible for their health care premiums and deductibles having soared through the roof despite Obama’s electoral promises that a typical family of four would see annual savings of $2,500 per year. Obamacare was the electoral gift to the GOP that would keep on giving.

    The first post-election response for Democrat supporters in deep denial was to undertake a massive temper tantrum marked by five nights of violent bloody protests in more than 50 cities. Their next act was to appoint a disgraceful anti-Semite Keith Ellison, someone with disturbing ties to the terrorist Muslim Brotherhood and the notoriously anti-Semitic Nation of Islam, as chair of the Democratic National Committee. At the same time, they initiated pointless recounts in 3 key battleground states in hopes of stealing or overturning more than 100,000 votes that spelled the ultimate margin in the election. After it appeared certain those efforts would collapse in failure, House Democrats voted by a 2-to-1 margin to reinstall the sclerotic dinosaur Nancy Pelosi as its House minority leader, under whose leadership the Party had lost at least 33 seats since 2006 and 70 seats since 2008, and who had helped engineer the disastrous Obamacare fiasco. Democrats and their sycophantic puppets in the party-aligned progressive media simultaneously undertook a coordinated delegitimizing campaign alleging that Trump’s victory over Clinton was illegitimate because Russia had “hacked” the election. That myth was promoted by a flawed CIA report claiming Russian hackers had probably been behind the highly damaging hack of DNC servers and John Podesta’s email, information that was funneled to Wikileaks. But while Russia may have been behind the DNC hack, the “hacked the election” fiction largely collapsed when it was revealed that CIA’s report was not endorsed by the Office of the Director of National Intelligence, to whom CIA reports, and the only definitive example of actual election hacking had been initiated by the Obama administration’s Department of Homeland Security in its ham-fisted attempt to break into and possibly steal the State of Georgia’s election results. As a last useless gasp of reality denial, Democrats began threatening or cajoling states’ electors to cast their obligated votes toward the losing ticket rather than the candidate who had incontestably won the election in conformity with the rules established in Article II of the Constitution as amended by the terms of the Twelfth Amendment.

    What about the Democrats? How are they looking after they will have whooped those nasty GOP bigots according to the triumphantly-proclaimed Yolland script? Was there any reason to believe they were on a smooth glide path to governing Nirvana? Don’t ask me, ask Chris Cillizza. The Democrats have been losing ground steadily since the midterm election of 2010 despite reelection of President Obama in 2012. There are few media columnists with more conventionally progressive credentials than Cillizza, the extreme left wing blowhard at The Washington Post. At the end of each year, Cillizza pronounces who the year’s biggest winners and losers were, in his orthodox progressive rendering. In 2013, he selected President Obama for lying about Benghazi, the Obamacare fiasco, the IRS scandal, and for his administration-directed NSA intrusions on Washington-based journalists. In 2014, Cillizza chose President Obama again as the biggest loser for his limp-wristed handling of the Ukraine crisis, for the midterm election blowout, and for the highly damaging accusations about Obama’s lackadaisical management style by former White House Chief of Staff Leon Panetta in his memoirs. In 2015, Cillizza picked Hillary Clinton as a co-winner of the year’s biggest loser prize because she had been badly damaged by revelations over her illegal email server, for the allegations of pay-for-play that was at the root of the email affair, and the drain that Socialist gadfly Bernie Sanders had caused on her expected unchallenged coronation. In 2016, Cillizza chose The Democrats as the biggest losers for the huge electoral wipeout across the length and breadth of the nationwide electoral map. If such a faithful party-aligned Leftist like Cillizza is pronouncing the Democrats perennial 4-years-in-a-row losers, it’s hard to ignore.

    Not surprisingly, middle class voters of all stripes have abandoned the Democratic Party in droves, an electoral tide that will likely only worsen as the single-issue extremists gain even more control over the Party agenda and steer it further Leftward.

    Whew, I’d sure hate to be a Republican today.

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    • Stephen Yolland says:

      Congratulations – against all the odds you won an election with the help of the ultimate statist, Vladimir Putin. You must be so proud. Of course the 17 security agencies are wrong and you are right. Thank heavens we have you to defend freedom.

      Like

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