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Posted by on Apr 3, 2016 in 2016 Elections, 2016 Presidential Election, Politics | 7 comments

Why Trump Won’t Kill the GOP

and

Mr. Trump (or Ted Cruz) could very well lead the party to a decisive and divisive defeat. If it was catastrophic enough, it could lead to changes in party strategy. Yet predictions of a Republican crackup should be greeted with skepticism. While rumors of the death of the Republican Party have been common in recent presidential elections, they have proved again and again to be vastly exaggerated.

The gap between expectations and political realities reflects two mistakes: The first is to overestimate the centrality of presidential contests to our system of checks and balances.

The second is to misunderstand the recent Republican electoral successes — which rest less on effective governance than on attacking government, and especially the occupant of the Oval Office.

It is not simply that the G.O.P. enjoys these structural advantages (strength in rural areas, edge in low turnout off-year elections). More and more, it feeds on the failure of its presidential standard-bearers. Party leaders sincerely lament these repeated losses (and may come to lament them more with the Supreme Court’s balance now on the line). They are not trying to win by losing. But they are doing just that, and this tells us a lot about how the contemporary Republican Party works.

Republicans excel at generating and then exploiting hostility to government, and thrive on being in opposition, especially to presidents. Almost without fail, recent presidential losses were followed by a “backlash” election — in 1994, 2010 and 2014 — in which the G.O.P. swept to victories in Congress and statehouses.

Given the current dysfunction of the Republican Party, many both inside and outside Republican ranks are probably hoping that a big defeat will force the party to change. But waiting, as the current president once put it, for the “fever” to break may be fruitless.

Try this setup instead: It’s 2017. After Mr. Trump’s landslide defeat, President Clinton has a Democratic Senate and House of Representatives. The Republican National Committee has just released its latest post-mortem — it probably looks a lot like the post-2012 soul-searching exercise, the Growth and Opportunity Project, which encouraged moderation in tone and inclusiveness in policy.

But that blueprint is ignored. Instead, the party quickly regroups in opposition to the incoming administration. Most Republican voters hate Mrs. Clinton even more than they hated Mr. Obama. The conservative apparatus for sowing discontent with a new administration is in place, flush with cash and battle-tested.

For Republicans in and outside government, it will be a time not for facing up to hard truths but for doubling down on hardball tactics.

American voters choose presidents, not kings (or queens). American political institutions are, and were designed to be, a complex system of interlocking parts. The drama of presidential campaigns should not blind us to these longstanding and deeply rooted dynamics or to their perverse effect: They allow the Republican Party to thrive even as its presidential candidates do not.

More worrisome, they reinforce a dangerous spiral. The most effective Republican response to its own unpopularity in presidential elections is to take steps to make the American political system more unpopular still.

 

Cross-posted from The Sensible Center

http://thesensiblecentercom.blogspot.com/2016/04/why-trump-wont-kill-gop.html

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Copyright 2016 The Moderate Voice
  • JSpencer

    So long as GOP leaders and standard bearers keep working to encourage the toxicity that leads to republican anger and disaffection, they get paid off in the form of power. But what is the payoff for republican voters who keep going back for more of the same punishing self-fulfilling prophecy? I’ve never been able to figure that out.

  • Brownies girl

    Ballard quotes the NYT: “Try this setup instead: It’s 2017. After Mr. Trump’s landslide defeat, President Clinton has a Democratic Senate and House of Representatives. The Republican National Committee has just released its latest post-mortem ….. which encouraged moderation in tone and inclusiveness in policy.

    “But that blueprint is ignored. ….. For Republicans in and outside government, it will be a time not for facing up to hard truths but for doubling down on hardball tactics.”

    I’m betting that while Hills is being sworn in, yet *ANOTHER* bunch of Republican hard-liners will be meeting in some cushy ranch somewhere in the mid-west to dedicate themselves to keeping her to a 4-year term — just like they did when Obama was sworn in.
    They’ll never learn, ever!

    If you haven’t read Jane Mayer’s “Dark Money” — you should. What an eye opener! Scares the bejesus out of me, and I’m not even American!

    • KP

      I was going to say I am not a Canadian, but I guess I am. My mom was born there, snuck across the border in New York and I have 15+ relatives who have always lived there.

      My experience, Canada is culturally more like San Diego than Chicago.

      • dduck

        KP, just a little story: I only know two Canadians, presently, and they are both Harper fans and hate the new admin. One of them has a rare cancer and is getting special treatments in Los Angeles and some kind of treatments to build him up in Mexico. Needless to say they’re not to crazy about the Canadian medical system. Maybe because it is an unusual cancer. He will be having a tumor on his lung removed, also in Mexico, but so far he has outlived the six-month life expectancy prediction he was given two years ago.

        • KP

          The story you share is not unusual. Quite the contrary.

        • Brownies girl

          DD writes: “I only know two Canadians, presently, and they are both Harper fans and hate the new admin.”

          For what it’s worth DD, the “new [Federal] administration” has only been in office for 5 and a half months, **NO** changes have been made to provincial Health Plans during that time, (and remember, our Health Plans are laid out by PROVINCES, much like your States) — so your friends are currently dealing under the rules laid out by ex-PM Harper in conjuction with the premier of whatever province it is they live in. That would be Harper, of whom they are supposedly great fans.

          I wish your friend well and hope s/he survives the cancer. But they should take their problems up with the leader of their PROVINCE, not the new Federal Government.

          • dduck

            Thanks.

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