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The #NeverTrump Movement Is Propelling The Republican Party Toward Civil War

Elephants Fighting

The effort to blunt the momentum of Donald Trump’s campaign and perhaps force a contest for the Presidential nomination at the Republican National Convention is not sitting well with much of rank-and-file Republicans:

From Michigan to Louisiana to California on Friday, rank-and-file Republicans expressed mystification, dismissal and contempt regarding the instructions that their party’s most high-profile leaders were urgently handing down to them: Reject and defeat Donald J. Trump.

Their angry reactions, in the 24 hours since Mitt Romney and John McCain urged millions of voters to cooperate in a grand strategy to undermine Mr. Trump’s candidacy, have captured the seemingly inexorable force of a movement that still puzzles the Republican elite and now threatens to unravel the party they hold dear.

In interviews, even lifelong Republicans who cast a ballot for Mr. Romney four years ago rebelled against his message and plan. “I personally am disgusted by it — I think it’s disgraceful,” said Lola Butler, 71, a retiree from Mandeville, La., who voted for Mr. Romney in 2012. “You’re telling me who to vote for and who not to vote for? Please.”

“There’s nothing short of Trump shooting my daughter in the street and my grandchildren — there is nothing and nobody that’s going to dissuade me from voting for Trump,” Ms. Butler said.

A fellow Louisiana Republican, Mindy Nettles, 33, accused the party of “using Romney as a puppet” to protect itself from Mr. Trump because its leaders could not control him. “He has a mind of his own,” she said. “He can think.”

The furious campaign now underway to stop Mr. Trump and the equally forceful rebellion against it captured the essence of the party’s breakdown over the past several weeks: Its most prominent guardians, misunderstanding their own voters, antagonize them as they try to reason with them, driving them even more energetically to Mr. Trump’s side.

(…)

Mr. Trump’s supporters seem profoundly uninterested at the moment with the image, expectations or traditions of the Republican Party, according to interviews with more than three dozen voters, elected officials and operatives. They are, in many cases, hostile to it.

“I want to see Trump go up there and do damage to the Republican Party,” said Jeff Walls, 53, of Flowood, Miss.

From the moment Mr. Romney delivered it in a speech on Thursday from Salt Lake City, his entreaty to voters struck many in the party as high-minded and impractical: He all but begged them to vote for Mr. Trump’s rivals, thereby denying Mr. Trump enough delegates to clinch the nomination and force a contested convention this summer. Voters have not taken kindly to the recommendation, describing the request as a patronizing directive from an elite figure who thoroughly misunderstands their feelings of alienation from the political system. (Soon after, Mr. McCain endorsed his remarks.)

Conservative talk radio shows lit up Friday with incensed callers who said they were “livid,” “mad” and “on the verge of tears” as they listened to Mr. Romney scoldingly describe what he called Mr. Trump’s misogyny, vulgarity and dishonesty, and urged them to abandon him.

“The Trumpists out there,” predicted Rush Limbaugh, “are going to feel like the establishment is trying to manipulate them, sucker them, and they’re just going to dig in deeper.”

They did.

Kathy, from Sun City, Ariz., told Mr. Limbaugh she was “absolutely livid by the Romney speech. He’s condescending,” she said, adding that he sounded like a “Democrat the whole time.” Steve from Temecula, Calif., said he had a message for Mr. Romney: “The Republican electorate is not a bunch of completely ignorant fools.”

“We know who Donald Trump is,” he added, “and we’re going to use Donald Trump to either take over the G.O.P. or blow it up.”

As Mr. Romney hopped between television stations on Friday, proclaiming his dismay over Mr. Trump’s crudeness, challenging his decency and questioning his integrity, he declared that his overtures were breaking through — though not necessarily to the audience he intended. In an interview conducted inside the headquarters of Bloomberg News in Manhattan, far from the crucial primary voting states that could decide Mr. Trump’s fate, he observed that Midtown office workers had offered their gratitude as he rode up to the studio.

“Just coming up the escalator, Mr. Romney said, people said, “ ’Thanks for what you did yesterday.’ ”

But outside of that orbit, the response was less welcoming.

In interviews across the country, Republican voters suggested that Mr. Romney’s move was presumptuous and described him as out of touch and ineffectual. “They want to control the election because they don’t like Trump,” said Joann Hirschmann of Shelby Township, Mich., a supporter of Gov. John Kasich of Ohio. “And I can understand that. But you have to let the people speak.”

Frustrated Republicans seized on Mr. Romney’s status as a party insider who was insulated from the realities, indignities and rage of average Americans headed to the polls this year. “He’s an establishment figure,” said Faith Sheptoski-Forbush of Romulus, Mich. “So that’s what you get.”

She called Mr. Romney’s diatribe against Mr. Trump “a desperate attempt” that left her deeply disappointed in him.

“What we need is the voice of the people,” Ms. Sheptoski-Forbush said. “The voice of the people want Trump.”

That Trump’s most ardent supporters would reject the calls of someone like Mitt Romney to unite in an effort to deprive Trump of the majority of delegates he needs to win the nomination outright is not surprising, of course. These people have been with Trump from virtually the beginning of the campaign.They’ve stuck with him through all of the attacks by other candidates and another Republican officials. They’ve stuck with him through the controversies that erupted in the wake of his comments about Mexicans, John McCain,Megyn Kelly, Carly Fiorina, Ben Carson, a disabled New York Times reporter, and Muslims. And, they’ve stuck with him through the recent controversies that have erupted in the wake of the more aggressive tone that Marco Rubio and Ted Cruz have taken over the past two weeks. What these reports demonstrate, though, is that Trump’s support isn’t just made up of outsiders to the GOP who have only come into the party recently, it’s made up of rank-and-file Republicans who have become frustrated with leaders who have consistently failed to deliver on any of the admittedly outlandish promises that they’ve made over the course of the past several years. Anyone with a modicum of knowledge about how Washington, D.C. works, for example, would know that the promises that the GOP has made to ‘repeal and replace’ the Affordable Care Act, or to roll back other policies enacted by the Obama Administration were pretty much pie-in-the-sky as long as Republicans didn’t control the White House. Republican leaders didn’t tell their voters this, of course, because it didn’t make for good copy for the fundraising letters that were sent to people who went to Tea Party rallies, listened to talk radio shows such as Limbaugh’s, or got their news chiefly from Fox News Channel or conservative web sites.

As a result of this unwillingness to tell their voters the truth, Republican leader have created a situation where they are completely distrusted by their own voters, a fact that explains why names like Mitt Romney, Mitch McConnell, John Boehner, and even in some circles Paul Ryan, are anathema in some conservative circles. This kind of atmosphere is perfect for someone like Donald Trump to exploit because it plays right into his message that everyone else is a horrible negotiator, a horrible executive, and just generally incompetent. Everyone that is except Donald Trump and the as yet still unnamed experts he would supposedly bring into government with him. It also plays perfectly into the public image that Trump has created for himself over the past thirty year or more as the epitome of success, ostentatious wealth, and the American dream. Yes, most of that public image is a lie, but Trump has nonetheless been uniquely successful in using the media to create it and no amount of speeches, least of all speeches by Mitt Romney and people like him, is going to undercut the image sufficiently to blunt a movement that, arguably, is the end game of all the public relations games that Trump has been playing since he first burst on the media scene in the mid-1980s.

That’s not to say that all Republicans are on board with Trump, of course, or that the entire party will get in line if he ultimately does win the nomination. The  #NeverTrump movement as it has come to be known is made up of many committed conservative activists who are unlikely to walk back what they’ve said about Trump and their refusal to support him even if he does become the Republican nominee. The problem that Republicans face, though, is that is clearly a similarly committed group of people supporting Trump who are unlikely to give up on their candidate just because party leadership is trying to force another candidate on them, and in the middle there’s another group whose distrust of government in general and their own party’s leaders in particular seem just as likely to send him running into Trump’s welcoming arms as it is to repel them. This, ultimately, is why the latest effort to stop Trump’s momentum is likely to be too little, too late and that the contested convention strategy seems more likely to shatter the GOP in a way that will reverberate far beyond the Presidential election than it is to successfully unite the party behind a non-Trump candidate notwithstanding the fact that Trump is likely to arrive in Cleveland as the candidate with the most support even if his delegate count falls short of the majority needed to win on the first ballot.

What happens after that if GOP leaders decide to go through with their plans? Your guess is as good as mine. Peggy Noonan sees the shattering of the Republican Party, as do others. It is perhaps too early to say that this is what will happen, but we haven’t seen a major political party go through an identity crisis like the one that the GOP is now facing since it happened to the Democrats in 1968, and it took them as long as twenty years to get their footing back even as they held on to power in Congress and at the state and local level. Democrats faced a similar crisis of conscience in 1948 over the issue of civil rights, but survived the loss of much of its southern base in the Presidential election that year. Before that, the Republican Party nearly split apart for good during the Election of 1912 as a personal and policy dispute between William Howard Taft and Theodore Roosevelt led to the creation of a “Bull Moose” Party that nearly replaced the GOP as America’s second party and at the very least allowed Woodrow Wilson to become only the second Democrat to be elected President since the Civil War. Before that, one has to look to the collapse of the Whig Party, largely over the issue of slavery and its expansion, to find anything comparable. It’s far too early to say that this will be the fate of the GOP, but it is at least accurate to say that the implications of the success of Donald Trump and the manner in which the party leadership has responded to it most likely won’t be entirely clear for some time to come.

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About Doug Mataconis
Doug holds a B.A. in Political Science from Rutgers University and J.D. from George Mason University School of Law. He joined the staff of OTB in May, 2010 and also writes at Below The Beltway. Follow Doug on Twitter | Facebook

Comments

  1. C. Clavin says:

    Why don’t they just measure their dicks and let that decide it for them???
    Bill Maher thinks it’s telling that they waited for the black man to get out of the race before talking about their dick size.

    Highly-rated. Helpful or Unhelpful: Thumb up 29 Thumb down 4

  2. stonetools says:

    Major US Parties in 2017:

    The Democratic Party
    The National Party (otherwise known as the Trumpers)
    The Christian American Party
    The Libertarian Republican Party (a union of the Libertarian and the rump Republican Parties).

    Possible? Discuss.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 5 Thumb down 0

  3. Mikey says:

    “There’s nothing short of Trump shooting my daughter in the street and my grandchildren — there is nothing and nobody that’s going to dissuade me from voting for Trump,” Ms. Butler said.

    Well, at least he’d be secure in the knowledge he’d only lose one vote.

    Two, if the daughter’s old enough.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 13 Thumb down 1

  4. gVOR08 says:

    @C. Clavin: Maher’s black guy comment. Perfect.

    I think one has to draw two conclusions from Romney’s speech. First, he’s eagerly volunteering to be reluctantly drafted by a divided convention. Second, he’s utterly delusional about his own party.

    I’ve been reading Peggy Noonan and other Republican pundits lately. Is there a Republican establishment type anywhere that understands what is happening?

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 14 Thumb down 1

  5. gVOR08 says:

    Doug says:

    Anyone with a modicum of knowledge about how Washington, D.C. works, for example, would know that the promises that the GOP has made to ‘repeal and replace’ the Affordable Care Act, or to roll back other policies enacted by the Obama Administration were pretty much pie-in-the-sky as long as Republicans didn’t control the White House.

    Over at TAC Samuel Goldman quotes a tweet by James K. A Smith
    Trump supporters are far from the machinations of power, so government seems like magic to them. In Trump they’ve found *their* magician.

    I think both are about right. They have no idea how the machinery works, so they think throwing a rock into it might help. Or at least feel good.

    Highly-rated. Helpful or Unhelpful: Thumb up 27 Thumb down 0

  6. de stijl says:

    The Republicans created this mess. They willingly hitched themselves to FOX News which peddles the contention that Democrats and black and brown people hate white people and wish to see them in gulags.

    They created a group of folks who see themselves as embattled saviors of America.

    And saving America means being a total dick. Loud and proud dickishness is now the standard for American conservatism. It’s not any standard Webster approved dictionary definition of prudent, slow-moving conservatism, but we live in the world that exists not the one that we wished were so.

    Tautologically, a loud and proud right-wing dick is the best conservative and the one who should be the standard bearer because a true Republican is belligerent and mouthy. You don’t actually have to conservative political beliefs, you just have to really hate Democrats and the people who vote for Democrats. It’s a G-D fun-house in there, seriously. It’s end-stage Gingrichism.

    Trump is a loud and proud dick. He says that he hates the people that FOX News has taught white people to hate. He wants walls and torture and war if our enemies don’t bow their knees. It’s not really conservative, but that the point.

    He’s an authoritarian alpha dick reactionary.

    That’s what Republican voters want and they want that because they’ve been trained to want it.

    Highly-rated. Helpful or Unhelpful: Thumb up 46 Thumb down 3

  7. EddieInCA says:

    1. This manifestation of a GOP leader is what I, along with millions of other people on the left and center-left have been predicting ever since Pat Buchanan’s speech in 1992. I was a registered Republican until the night of that speech. Re-registered the next day and have never looked back. Trump is only following up on what Buchanan started – and which Limbaugh, Beck, Levin, Hannity, Savage, Boortz, Gallagher, Medved, Hewitt, Ingraham, and Prager have been broadcasting forever.

    2. The GOP has, at it’s core, a 35% absolutely racist base. Many in the GOP were hoping that the ceiling of that particular group was was 10%, but alas, Trump is proving that it’s much higher than that number. “Mexican Rapists”. “Ban all Muslims”. “I”m going to build a wall and Mexico is going to pay for it.”

    3. “Moderate” Republicans – I’m looking at you JAMES JOYNER – are just as responsible for the current mess are are conservative Republicans. As many people told you over the years, your party was being taken over by crazies. Each mid-term election moved the center of the GOP further and further right, yet you, and many like you, continued supporting the crazies. Literally. “Anything is better than a Democrat?” Really? Seems to me the country did much better during 1992-2000 than 2000-2008. And 2008-2016 was certainly better than 2000-2008. So I don’t get the whole “Anyone other than a Democrat.”

    4. Full GOP control in the states is turning out to be a nightmare in too many states. Kansas, Lousisiana, Wisconsin come to mind. Not to mention the hellholes that already are Alabama, Mississippi and Arkansas. The GOP policies don’t work because too many in the GOP don’t understand basic math. See Lousiana and Kansas for the best examples.

    Highly-rated. Helpful or Unhelpful: Thumb up 55 Thumb down 4

  8. Tyrell says:

    These debates: Too many. The focus seems to be harangue, insult, disparage, bait. A better format is to have a town hall type form, in which the audience asks the questions. Too often the moderators are asking controlled, slanted questions.
    The important issues are mostly ignored.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 3 Thumb down 5

  9. Scott F. says:

    The problem with wars is the collateral damage.

    The Republican party could implode over Trump and the ham-handed anti-Trumps, but I fear what the fallout will be for the rest of the country.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 5 Thumb down 0

  10. al-Ameda says:

    @EddieInCA:

    1. This manifestation of a GOP leader is what I, along with millions of other people on the left and center-left have been predicting ever since Pat Buchanan’s speech in 1992. …. Trump is only following up on what Buchanan started – and which Limbaugh, Beck, Levin, Hannity, Savage, Boortz, Gallagher, Medved, Hewitt, Ingraham, and Prager have been broadcasting forever.

    (((CHECK)))

    2. The GOP has, at it’s core, a 35% absolutely racist base. Many in the GOP were hoping that the ceiling of that particular group was was 10%, but alas, Trump is proving that it’s much higher than that number. “Mexican Rapists”. “Ban all Muslims”. “I”m going to build a wall and Mexico is going to pay for it.”

    (((CHECK))) We can argue the percentage but, Birthers have polled at about 50% of the GOP for about 6 years.

    3. “Moderate” Republicans – I’m looking at you JAMES JOYNER – are just as responsible for the current mess are are conservative Republicans. As many people told you over the years, your party was being taken over by crazies. Each mid-term election moved the center of the GOP further and further right, yet you, and many like you, continued supporting the crazies. Literally. “Anything is better than a Democrat?” Really? Seems to me the country did much better during 1992-2000 than 2000-2008. And 2008-2016 was certainly better than 2000-2008. So I don’t get the whole “Anyone other than a Democrat.”

    (((CHECK))) It really is a disgrace that Senators like Olympia Snowe are no longer welcome in the Republican Party, they’re smart, care about good governance, so, you know, they’re RINOs.

    4. Full GOP control in the states is turning out to be a nightmare in too many states. Kansas, Lousisiana, Wisconsin come to mind. Not to mention the hellholes that already are Alabama, Mississippi and Arkansas. The GOP policies don’t work because too many in the GOP don’t understand basic math. See Lousiana and Kansas for the best examples.

    (((CHECK))) The GOP has taken over about 30 state houses and this has allowed the GOP to gerrymander Democratic constituencies into oblivion. Even if Brownback has Kansas circling the drain, Democrats will have a hard time changing minds in dumbed-down Kansas.

    Highly-rated. Helpful or Unhelpful: Thumb up 19 Thumb down 0

  11. de stijl says:

    @Tyrell:

    The important issues are mostly ignored.

    In your opinion, what are the most important issues and how are they being ignored?

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 7 Thumb down 0

  12. al-Ameda says:

    @Tyrell:

    A better format is to have a town hall type form, in which the audience asks the questions.

    The same bozos who vote for people like Sarah Palin, Louie Gohmert, Steve King and many others who constantly obstruct government are to be trusted to ask intelligent questions? Really?

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 14 Thumb down 0

  13. HarvardLaw92 says:

    The #NeverTrump Movement Is Propelling The Republican Party Toward Civil War

    Yay :-)

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 12 Thumb down 0

  14. HarvardLaw92 says:

    @de stijl:

    In your opinion, what are the most important issues and how are they being ignored?

    Hold up a few if you can – I’ll want to get my popcorn ready for this incoming masterpiece.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 3 Thumb down 2

  15. de stijl says:

    @HarvardLaw92:

    Hey, don’t underestimate! The voice of the people is legitimate.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 3 Thumb down 0

  16. Pch101 says:

    Populists are noisy whiners by nature. Appeasing them doesn’t work.

    Romney may not be particularly effective on his own, but the establishment GOP has no choice but to say something if it is going to have a chance of maintaining control. They may have to burn the proverbial village in order to save it, as the populists are now convinced that is busy denouncing anyone who isn’t a populist as a RINO.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 2 Thumb down 0

  17. HarvardLaw92 says:

    @de stijl:

    Which is why television reporters always seek them to speak on the air out after a tornado hits :-)

    I’m beginning to wonder if a sizable number of Democrats, secure in the belief that Clinton is a lock, are crossing over & voting for Trump in an attempt to pull another Sharron Angle out of the hat.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 3 Thumb down 4

  18. anjin-san says:

    @EddieInCA:

    I was a registered Republican until the night of that speech.

    I got out a little earlier. As I recall, language to the effect that “Jesus Christ is the best, last hope for America” very nearly made it into the GOP platform at the ’88 convention. That and the Willie Horton thing was enough for me. I registered independent, and stayed there until the Iraq war got me off the fence.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 6 Thumb down 0

  19. de stijl says:

    @HarvardLaw92:

    Which is why television reporters always seek them to speak on the air out after a tornado hits :-)

    In the media I consume the usual reason that people get inadvertently time-traveled back is when they stand too close to something that looks strange and techy and / or primal.

    If a current day poorly educated Heartland American were to be thrust back 10,000 years against their will, he would suddenly be the most educated, most knowledgeable man on the planet. Granted, he would not be the smartest person – smarts run the gamut and it’s always been that way, but he would possess the most knowledge even if picked up through osmosis by watching Tosh.0 while smoking a wake-and-bake bowl.

    She would possess the knowledge of the gods. Skateboards, roulette, man-scaping, board shorts, tacos, jaywalking, golf. All of these and more would available to our newly enhanced predecessors.

    Long story short – if you stumble across a high-tech ancient thingamabob covered with runic writing or hieroglyphics, don’t stand too close to it for an extended period. Unless you want to be an ancient God – then loiter away.

    I’m not saying that Tyrell is a modern-day reincarnation of some ancient deity. But it is possible. Don’t mock, pup. His insight is valuable.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 5 Thumb down 2

  20. Grumpy Realist says:

    I’m still far too cynical to believe that there’s going to be an actual split. Note that all of the non-Trump candidates, after firebreathing like mad, said they’d still support Trump if he clinched the nomination.

    So will happen with 99% of the others now loudly bewailing The Vulgarity Of Trump. The more he looks like a success, the more reasons they’ll find to come around and support him. Finally, they’ll end up supporting Trump because Hillary is the Evil Incarnate.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 6 Thumb down 0

  21. HarvardLaw92 says:

    @de stijl:

    Tyrell is performance art. It’s artful trolling, but it’s still trolling.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 4 Thumb down 2

  22. DrDaveT says:

    The #NeverTrump Movement Is Propelling The Republican Party Toward Civil War

    Afterward, they will refer to it as “The Late Unpleasantness”, and claim that it wasn’t really about brown people.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 13 Thumb down 0

  23. bookdragon says:

    @EddieInCA: Lots of people bailed in the 90s, others later. Even people who weren’t ever GOP, miss what they used to be. I side with this guy (and note this was written 12 years ago):

    http://kfmonkey.blogspot.com/2004/12/i-miss-republicans.html

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 5 Thumb down 0

  24. Paul Hooson says:

    Saturday’s results are very good news for the stop Trump movement, proving that the efforts to blunt him are finally paying off. In Louisiana and Kansas, Trump only scored narrow wins, and was beaten by Cruz in Kansas and Maine. Cruz surged in all four contests at the expense of Rubio and Kasich. Rubio has only managed to marginalize himself recently where speeches based on policy have given way to childish remarks about Trump’s “small hands” or “orange” tan. Cruz is a very divisive and overly ideological candidate, but he has now proven that with a reduced voter output for the other candidates he could still wrest the nomination from Trump who now only leads Cruz by 378 to 295 in delegates, with Rubio at 123, Kasich at 34, and Carson at 8. This trend is important because Trump could increasingly lag below winning 50% of delegates, and Cruz may go on to win upcoming big winner take all contests.

    On the Democratic side, Sanders’ task still remains daunting, but he has proven some surprising strength in some unlikely states with large blocks of White voters, but still uphill math in Southern states with large Black voter blocks as well the huge Super delegate hurdle to overcome. Whether the Email scandal could derail Clinton before the nomination is still an unknown, but gives Sanders some hope as well that he may be called on if Clinton cannot be nominated.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 3 Thumb down 0

  25. de stijl says:

    @HarvardLaw92:

    Tyrell is performance art. It’s artful trolling, but it’s still trolling.

    I’m pretty sure Tyrell is who he says he is. Or she.

    I feel a bit protective. I’ve given him / her the business in the past. The aw-shucks folksy Mayberryism can be tiresome and I’ve poked at him / her because of that. But I don’t want to be a bully; it’s bad karma, and I feel I’ve come close to bullying Tyrell in the past.

    Besides, the word Tyrell has a special place in my heart. It’s an integral part of one of my favorite movies: Blade Runner. The Tyrell Corporation. More human than human is our motto. Gosh, you’ve got some really nice toys here.

    This an odd thing to admit, but in a strange way I’m kinda looking forward to the day (hopefully long into the future) when some doc tells me the gig is up. You’re going to die and this is the expected timeline. No fooling, I’m totally going to respond with “I want more life, f***er.” I won’t go all Roy Batty and poke her eyes out with my thumbs – that would be rude. Seriously, I have this killer line all saved up for a really bad day, but saying it will make me laugh and take my mind off the knowledge that I’m going to die soon.

    That movie is just frigging chock-full of amazing quotes. So much goodness.

    Tyrell is alright.

    I’m 99% sure that Tyrell is who he says he is and would likely pass the Voight-Kampff test.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 3 Thumb down 0

  26. JohnMcC says:

    @de stijl: I’m also a Tyrell-fancier and if he/she is an artful troll… Well, I’ve done a bit of trolling myself and take my hat off to the troller.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 5 Thumb down 0

  27. Jen says:

    @Grumpy Realist:

    Note that all of the non-Trump candidates, after firebreathing like mad, said they’d still support Trump if he clinched the nomination.

    Agreed, and frankly this is the primary thing that is so disturbing to me. What a tremendously unprincipled lot of wet noodles. The true “Never Trumps”—the ones who, hopefully, actually mean it–refuse to shackle the future of their party to a racist, sexist, narcissist. Supporting Trump if he is the nominee means the tacit approval of what he stands for. It’s appalling that the party of Lincoln has come to this.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 4 Thumb down 0

  28. Tony W says:

    Every time I see this ‘elephants fighting’ graphic – and I’ve seen it dozens of times over many years – I wonder why a parallel graphic for on the Democrat side would not resonate as well.

    It’s fascinating to compare the tone of the discussion between the D’s and the R’s. One party’s debates consist of dick jokes, belligerence and huge factual errors designed to align to pre-defined policy positions, the other party holds a serious discussion of how to approach actual problems in the country.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 7 Thumb down 0

  29. OzarkHillbilly says:

    @de stijl:

    In your opinion, what are the most important issues and how are they being ignored?

    I can answer that one. They’ve spent more time arguing over the size of Trump’s dick than they have discussing the various issues at play in Syria. (sarcasm)

    Really tho, how can you even ask that question? Nothing they have talked about is even within the realm of reality.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 1 Thumb down 0

  30. OzarkHillbilly says:

    @al-Ameda:

    The same bozos who vote for people like Sarah Palin, Louie Gohmert, Steve King and many others who constantly obstruct government are to be trusted to ask intelligent questions? Really?

    And that would be worse than the bozos from FOX or CNN who soft pedal the positions of Sarah Palin, Louie Gohmert, Steve King and many others asking the questions, exactly how?

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 3 Thumb down 0

  31. John says:

    @Tony W:

    Why would they they have donkeys fighting at all? There’s only one real donkey, and everybody knows it. And Sanders has refused to go for the jugular with Hillary, over and over again, so I have trouble buying the idea that there is a real fight.

    In the end, dissatisfied Democrats are going to shut up and vote for Ms. Clinton, no matter how uninspiring she is, because… well, the DNC says its her turn. Clinton Inc. has deep roots in both the establishment and minority communities, as well as increasing amounts of funding from Wall Street and Silicon Valley, and that’s enough. I don’t look upon most of this as a strictly negative thing, mind, but I do find it more than a little rich that she’s trying to pass herself off as some populist.

    I’m far from a GOP sympathizer and am probably going to end up going hiking on Election Day at this rate, but I’d rather have debates devolve in dick jokes than smile for the camera, open wide and pretend that I’m not being forced to swallow the machine politician of the DNC’s choice. The Donald in all his jaw dropping glory and for all his ignorant, crude demagoguery has managed to do something great: destroy a corrupt dynasty. I wish someone could do the same on the other side. I spend half my time listening to politics these days wondering what the hell Clinton pulled to make sure Biden, a much better candidate and human being, not to mention someone who I suspect is more competent, didn’t come in.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 4 Thumb down 0

  32. Tony W says:

    @de stijl: I always assumed Tyrell was Michael (before he disappeared) in an alter ego. But I too enjoy his/her Mayberry-like innocence, it give me hope that not all ‘conservatives’ are over-compensating idiots.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 1 Thumb down 0

  33. Tony W says:

    @John: I think Biden willingly stood aside, and that’s been the plan from the beginning – he has no interest in POTUS. His job was to add serious experience to the Obama ticket.

    True to form, Obama reached out to Hillary and offered a senior position in his cabinet, recognizing his ability to both mend fences with the powerful Clintons and assure his legacy by giving some strong foreign policy credentials to a future candidate to add padding to her resume.

    Looking back, I’m not sure SoS was much of a favor given the ridiculous Republican charges around BENGHAZI! and e-mails and whatever else they make up, but it did keep her sharp and in the spotlight for 8 years.

    That said, she should have spent the time working on her political skills instead – she’s a terrible politician.

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  34. John says:

    @Tony W:

    I disagree. I think Clinton leveraged or blackmailed, maybe a bit both, the WH. The mutual threat of the GOP probably cemented the decision, but given that much of State is loyal to her rather than to the POTUS, it’s entirely plausible for HRC to have tied everybody to the still alive but not guaranteed to reach port Titanic. Obama and Clinton don’t exactly have the smoothest relationship around, whereas Biden enjoys the President’s trust and liking.

    That, and her FP record isn’t something to write home about. She’s really lucky that none of the GOP candidates are bright enough to exploit the hell out of this and let the FBI handle the emails instead. Given what America thought of the Clinton Wars back in the 1998 midterms, you’d think the GOP would learn, but if they had learned anything since 1995, Trump would still be running his reality TV show.

    https://02varvara.files.wordpress.com/2010/09/01-lavrov-clinton-reset-button.jpg

    The emails are not Lewinsky 2.0 in terms of graveness-SAP level material was on the server. The latest Clintonian maneuver, abetted by the MSM, of using the fact that “there was no hack” is laughable to anybody who knows how Russian or Israeli SIGINT works, and is also irrelevant from the legal perspective of whether there was a felony committed. I don’t think we’re going to agree on that, though, no matter what we both try, and I’d like to keep this civil in a way that it rarely is for people with different political views these days, so let’s just talk political impact. Clinton’s best hope is that the GOP Benghazis them so that she can make it out to be the VRWC again, but the problem here is that she’s going to have to deal with the FBI and IC as well, who are nowhere near as stupid as the GOP. If you don’t believe me, wait until the summer when the Boys in the Bureau and their friends revolt-they will if the DOJ doesn’t indict her, and they know how to play the game. Obama is a lame duck, he can’t stop them or buy them. So, HRC’s best shot is, ironically but not for the first time, to use the GOP’s seemingly compulsive (whenever the Clintons are involved) Spanish Inquisition behavior to her advantage. The FBI is powerful, but it’s not the breaker it was back in Hoover’s days, either. Political perception might just trump it-it might be tough, but it isn’t impossible.

    She’s a terrible campaigner, terrible on the stump: that doesn’t necessarily imply that she is a bad politician overall, given that I do think she has a strength of coldness and organization that Obama and her husband lack, but it is really hurting her. I have no doubt that her husband would have been able to dispatch Sanders without any trouble at all. The worst mistake Hillary could make it to campaign like Bill-she’s not Bill and she never will be. Her best chance is to do what Nixon did in 1968: be the tough, cold consigliere who understands power in an America that needs strong leadership and is falling apart at the seams, not the populist or someone you’d like to have a beer with or a lovable grandmother. Normally, Americans vote for the more likable candidate. The only exceptions tend to be years like 1968. 2016 isn’t perfect, but it comes closer to it than most.

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  35. John says:

    @anjin-san:

    I wasn’t alive at the time, so I can’t say for sure. The 1988 campaign would have really disturbed me because of all the Religious Right nonsense(although Estridge and Company ran their own racist ad in California that year, so I wouldn’t be fooled by the tellingly post-election whining about Atwater and Horton from the DNC), but my loyalty to George Bush Senior and my gratitude to him and guys like Schultz for offsetting the more apish characters in the Reagan Administration would have kept me on the team for that year. I’m an FP nut, and I think Bush Senior’s administration had the most talented team in the field in modern times: Baker and Snowcroft. No way I would pass the chance to see them in the White House, especially at a time of vast geopolitical shifts like 1989-1992.

    However, once the neocons and free market hucksters did their hostile takeover after 1992, I would have supported Clinton in 1996. No question about it. When Barry Goldwater and Bob Dole are the party liberals, you know they have left you in the manner of Reagan.

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  36. de stijl says:

    @OzarkHillbilly:

    Really tho, how can you even ask that question? Nothing they have talked about is even within the realm of reality.

    I was going for subtle ironic subtext.

    Since you didn’t immediately get that, it basically means I failed. Well, maybe. Straight-up mocking snarkiness is the coin of the realm so I wanted to go a different route. I need to hone my wordsmithing skillz. Use more winky emojis to clue in the rubes.

    But I want to make subtext happen as a rhetorical device during the #inyourface Twitter age. Dicey, I know.

    Subtext is the new orange.

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  37. de stijl says:

    @Tony W:

    I always assumed Tyrell was Michael (before he disappeared) in an alter ego.

    I miss Reynolds. He got weird at the end after Riverside and seemed to be undergoing some momentous psychological / philosophical shift a la David Mamet after 9/11. He was an interesting writer.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 6 Thumb down 0

  38. wr says:

    @John:” In the end, dissatisfied Democrats are going to shut up and vote for Ms. Clinton, no matter how uninspiring she is, because… well, the DNC says its her turn.”

    Actually, I’m going to vote for her because I think that of all the candidates running for the office, she’ll make the best president.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 11 Thumb down 2

  39. wr says:

    @John: ” I’m an FP nut, and I think Bush Senior’s administration had the most talented team in the field in modern times: Baker and Snowcroft. No way I would pass the chance to see them in the White House, especially at a time of vast geopolitical shifts like 1989-1992.”

    Yes, nothing like arming fascist dictators and training their death squads to murder villages full of peasants or gunning down inconvenient priests to prove talent in foreign relations. Or selling missiles to Iran in order to illegally shovel money to overthrow a legitimately elected government. Truly these were great men, well deserving of the quick pardons they were handed so no one could ask questions.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 3 Thumb down 1

  40. John says:

    @wr:

    Not exactly a high bar to cross, and even that’s debatable given HRC’s plans. Using identity politics as an ansatz for actual socioeconomic reform in 2010s America is a pretty dangerous game.

    Gunning down inconvenient priests… you mean… like in 1980, when it was the famous Democrat Jimmy Carter who supported the Salvadoran military even after the Romero shooting? Or… Ronald Reagan funding Rios Montt, or Ronald Reagan and Bill Casey deciding to ignore the basic reality that getting rid of the Sandanistas would take full scale intervention, something not worth it, since the Contras were so blatantly incompetent. While I don’t buy Bush Senior’s claims of innocence on the Iran-Contra scandal, the most blatant illegality in US history, it wasn’t his idea, and it was his administration that presided over peace in El Salvador and Nicaragua, and the beginning of the process in Guatemala. He, Baker, and Snowcroft never got pardoned based on it. Weinberger was one of the apish characters I mentioned above.

    Each decision of the POTUS must begin and end with the question: “What is in the national interest of the United States of America?” If you can’t bring yourself to do that, you have no business running American FP. HRC, to her credit, seems to be one of the three people in this race who is capable of asking this question, and the only one likely to do so consistently. The question doesn’t lie in that so much as in tactics, her vestiges of 90s style neoliberal HR based interventionism(on Libya with Obama, she reminded me of Kissinger on Nixon in 1971 on the subcontinent), and her disturbing views on the role of postmodern 21st Century Western values in foreign policy.

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  41. John says:

    @John:

    (in her insistence of us getting involved militarily against the relevant President’s wiser instincts, just like Kissinger and ENTERPRISE. The only difference is that Clinton did this on the basis of human rights rather than standing up to the Soviets.)

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  42. Tyrell says:

    @de stijl: Here are my topics and issues:
    The corporate – government complex, and the influence of world financial groups on US policies

    Energy policy – what would they do to encourage alternative energy research and
    development ? (fusion, geo -thermal, hydrogen, solar winds, ion
    engines, methane )

    Infrastructure – rebuilding and modernizing the aging interstate highway system,the electrical grid, and better water treatment and delivery. It is also time to eliminate most, if not all, railroad crossings (dangerous, time wasting, a relic of the past)

    The danger of asteroid hits and emp (electro magnetic pulse) – an asteroid will come very close to the earth next week; closer than some of the satellites. Is there a plan or program to avert this ? NASA needs more accurate detection.
    Solar storms and a terrorists’ use of an electron attack could destroy large sections of the electrical grid

    The North Korean danger and what can be done about it

    The Federal Reserve – too much power over economic decisions *

    * Read “Secrets of the Federal Reserve” (E. Mullins, 2009)

    Those are the main issues that I look at.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 5 Thumb down 0

  43. Pch101 says:

    To return to the headline of this post, it should probably read “Populist Conservatives/ Social Conservatives/ ex-Dixiecrats/ Unrestrained Nativists Are Propelling The Republican Party Toward Civil War”.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 2 Thumb down 0

  44. John says:

    @Pch101:

    Against each other for the time being, no matter what happens afterward. Populists and nativists go (or went, depending on how much the last week hurt him) to Trump, Social conservatives and Constitutional literalists to Cruz. Trump is Attitude, Cruz is Ideology. The two are fundamentally different.

    And to make it more fun, the establishment loathes both of them. We’ve even see Jeb Bush donors openly contemplate supporting Hillary Clinton.

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  45. DrDaveT says:

    @Tyrell: Upvote for a fairly reasonable list. I don’t think those are the most important issues, but they are almost all more important than anything GOP candidates are ‘debating’.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 6 Thumb down 0

  46. Tony W says:

    @de stijl: I think missing Mr. Reynolds – in any form – is fairly universal among those of us who have hung out here over the years.

    Hopefully he still lurks from time to time and can see our well wishes.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 10 Thumb down 0

  47. An Interested Party says:

    Normally, Americans vote for the more likable candidate.

    Indeed…for whatever anyone wants to think of her, Hillary is more likeable than the racist, sexist blowhard…

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 2 Thumb down 0

  48. John says:

    @An Interested Party:

    Not to the WWC voters in the Rust Belt who haven’t voted coherently en masse for any candidate since Bill Clinton. The perception is that Trump is your hard talking foreman who slurs racist epithets and chews you out for being 30 seconds late, but will have your back against the MBAs (GOP Establishment) and the government lawyers (Hillary). Or really, for most non-progressive whites in general. Likeable is not necessarily the same thing as “nice”-Trump’s openly running off of not being “nice”. And anybody, Trump included, is more likable than the current 2016 version of Hillary Clinton, waxing on white privilege while taking money from Goldman Sachs, to these voters. Progressive whites and minorities might be appalled by this, but that doesn’t make it less of a political reality.

    But, as I mentioned in the post, Hillary shouldn’t try to insult the intelligence of the electorate and pretend be something that she is not. She should be who she is, no apologies, and she’ll earn more respect-and more votes-that way. That’s the only way to compete with Trump among these voters: play it hard, be an openly mean, tough bitch rather than exude passive-aggressive behavior, and play it direct.

    I should also add that Trump and possibly Kasich are the only candidates who have the potential of causing trouble for Hillary Clinton. She’ll beat Cruz in a landslide barring something ridiculous, and Rubio by a more modest but decisive margin. But Cruz’s gains notwithstanding, Trump’s still in charge of the race. He fell on his face in Detroit, but his post-Super Tuesday speech was definitely aimed for a general election, and was pretty good. Worse yet, he knows how to get under her skin, unlike someone like Sanders or Biden.

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  49. Mikey says:

    @Tony W:

    I think missing Mr. Reynolds – in any form – is fairly universal among those of us who have hung out here over the years.

    I was truly saddened by his departure. His thinking, and expressions of it, were big players in some major shifts in my own thinking.

    I’m not sure what caused his own shift–it seemed very much out-of-character for him, to say the least. Still, as vehemently as I disagreed with him at that point, I certainly would not have wanted him to stop posting here.

    Maybe he’ll come back, one day. I hope so.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 5 Thumb down 0

  50. An Interested Party says:

    Worse yet, he knows how to get under her skin, unlike someone like Sanders or Biden.

    That works both ways…his skin is incredibly thin and she can return the favor to him, not to mention her surrogates, particularly her husband and Obama…

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 2 Thumb down 0

  51. John says:

    @An Interested Party:

    But Hillary is no match for Trump in this field, and it shows. Look at how her attempt to try and play sexist card in January turned out. HRC miscalculated big time what Trump would do. It backfired spectacularly when Trump didn’t act according to plan, by going on the defensive like some chastised generic politician. Rather than assuring the electorate that he was no sexist or donating to women’s causes like a Jeb Bush or Marco Rubio would, he instead went on the unapologetic, brash offensive with the elephant in the room-that HRC’s ruining of the lives of the young women involved with her husband, particularly in cases like Ms. Broaddrick’s which would be looked at very differently today, is anything but “feminist”. We haven’t seen any carping on Trump’s record with women (and Trump has a record of extracurricular activities with questionable consent that is nearly as impressive as Bill’s is) ever since. That has to be a first for an opponent of Hillary Clinton. She knows that’s a battle she’s not going to win.

    And really, people who would be influenced by what Barack Obama says for Hillary are already “in the choir” anyway.

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  52. @Tony W:

    I always assumed Tyrell was Michael (before he disappeared) in an alter ego.

    I’ve noticed lately that all internet forums seem to eventually develop a weird variant of the Fregoli delusion. There’s probably a psychology dissertation somewhere behind that observation.

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  53. Neil Hudelson says:

    @Tony W:

    If I recall, before MR’s…change in policy ideas…he had mentioned a few times that he was working on a atlernative history novel about the Nazi’s and Fascists winning WWII, a la Man in the High Castle, and that he had been on some research trips to Germany. Considering his final thoughts were to call for Democratic Authoritarianism, I wonder if his research was playing psychological games with him, influencing his thinking more than he would be comfortable admitting. ,

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  54. Grewgills says:

    @Stormy Dragon:

    I’ve noticed lately that all internet forums seem to eventually develop a weird variant of the Fregoli delusion.

    Thanks for putting a name to it. It’s nice to have a name for the every troll is the same troll phenomenon.

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  55. @Neil Hudelson:

    I disagree. Reynold’s change wasn’t a change so much as a continuation of long held beliefs. He always backed state-sponsored violence toward THEM in the name of protecting US. Go back and look at the old drone strike threads and his complete indifference to civilian causalities. He frequently came across as almost giddy at the thought of muslims in the middle east getting blown up.

    All that really changed a few months ago is the Paris attacks caused him to further restrict his definition of US. Now it wasn’t just foreign muslims that qualified as being in need of repression but also domestic muslims.

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  56. @Grewgills:

    Another useful psychological term for understanding the internet: apophenia

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  57. An Interested Party says:

    She knows that’s a battle she’s not going to win.

    It certainly isn’t a battle he will win…in the general election campaign, if he starts talking about Bill Clinton’s affairs, Trump’s own soiled past will be fair game…and again, she may be an awkward campaigner, but nobody is as thin-skinned as Trump…

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  58. DrDaveT says:

    @Stormy Dragon:

    Another useful psychological term for understanding the internet: apophenia

    You thought this looked like another example of apophenia, but it was all in your head?

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  59. @DrDaveT:

    Nothing in this thread specifically looked like apophenia, but it’s useful concept to be aware of.

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  60. Moosebreath says:

    Back to the original topic — I thought this was a good read on the reasons why the Republican base is up on arms and not listening to the Establishment:

    “What’s interesting about Kraushaar’s column isn’t the novelty of the thesis but the persistence of the metathesis. Republicans have worked for years to radicalize their base against Obama, to persuade them that something truly different and terrifying is going on, and in that project they have enjoyed a catastrophic success.

    Now elite Republicans are panicking as they watch their base turn to different and terrifying kinds of politicians in response. But even as the strategy of calculated hysteria destroys them, they can’t seem to stop arguing that the Obama era — as represented, in this case, by Obamacare — has been a scary aberration in American politics.

    Republicans desperately need to persuade their base that this moment isn’t as dire as they think it is and a more conventional class of political figures is appropriate to meet it. But doing so would require such a radical revision of the party’s core narrative — a narrative they themselves believe — that it’s become effectively impossible.”

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  61. Teapartydoc says:

    Are you sure you have the right moniker? Shouldn’t this be Inside The Beltway?

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