As Republicans Run From Trump, The Seeds Of A GOP Civil War May Be Starting To Grow

With top Republicans recoiling from the realization that the GOP is stuck with Trump in 2016, the ground seems to be being prepared for a conflict that could tear the GOP apart regardless of who wins in November.

Elephants Fighting

Even as Donald Trump seeks to change the subject from the controversy that has erupted over his comments about the ‘Mexican’ Judge presiding over the class action trial against Trump University currently pending in Federal Court in Southern California, the blowback continues as Republican officials continue to react to his initial remarks. Unlike politicians like Paul Ryan, who denounced Trump’s comments as a “textbook example of racism” but said he will continue support Trump, though, this latest round of leaders is withdrawing their support entirely or at least signaling that it should be considered to be in doubt.

Among the first of these Republicans is Senator Mark Kirk of Illinois:

Republican U.S. Sen. Mark Kirk on Tuesday said he “cannot and will not support”Donald Trump as the GOP’s presidential nominee, citing the real estate mogul and former reality TV star’s “past attacks on Hispanics, women and the disabled like me.”

“It is absolutely essential that we are guided by a commander in chief with a responsible and proper temperament, discretion and judgment. Our president must be fit to command the most powerful military the world has ever seen, including an arsenal of thousands of nuclear weapons,” said Kirk, who suffered a stroke in 2012. “After much consideration, I have concluded that Donald Trump has not demonstrated the temperament necessary to assume the greatest office in the world.”

The change of heart by Kirk, one of the most politically vulnerable Republican senators seeking re-election this fall, came a day after Democratic challenger U.S. Rep. Tammy Duckworth of Hoffman Estates accused him of being “complicit” in a Trump campaign of “hate and division” because of his silence over Trump’s ethnicity-based criticism of a federal judge.

Kirk is the first Republican senator seeking re-election this fall to abandon Trump. Kirk distanced himself as colleague South Carolina Sen. Lindsey Graham urged Republicans to rescind their backing in light of the presumptive GOP presidential nominee’s recent comments, including discomfort with a potential jurist of the Muslim faith.

“If he continues this line of attack, then I think people really need to reconsider the future of the party,” Graham told CNN on Tuesday.

The discontent with Trump has been far reaching. In Iowa, state Sen. David Johnson, a conservative Republican, likened Trump’s campaign to the rise of Adolf Hitler as the veteran lawmaker announced he was leaving the GOP and changing his political registration to “no party.”

(…)

For Kirk, the rescinded endorsement seemed inevitable as Duckworth’s central campaign message has been to link Trump to the senator. Prior to Kirk’s statement, Illinois Democrats launched a website Tuesday highlighting controversial rhetoric used by Trump and the senator and quizzed visitors on which politician said what.

Trump’s name is likely to appear above Kirk’s on the Nov. 8 ballot, and the senator will need the support of moderate voters who might be inclined to vote for Clinton. But in abandoning Trump, Kirk also risks the ire of Republican conservatives who were never sold on him to begin with.

The decision marks the latest twist in Kirk’s political relationship with Trump.

Just before the March 15 Illinois primary election, Kirk said he “certainly would” support Trump if he won the GOP nomination. Since then, Kirk also has contended Trump could be a “net benefit” for his Senate campaign and said that as president, Trump would need his “steady conservative hand” in the Senate.

But in April, Kirk said he would not attend the Republican National Convention in Cleveland, with his campaign saying the senator preferred to stay in his home state and work on his re-election effort. In recent weeks, Kirk has turned aside reporters’ questions about Trump, including on May 12 when the business mogul held closed-door meetings with top Republican leaders on Capitol Hill.

Then came Tuesday’s statement cutting ties with Trump. A day earlier, Duckworth had appeared at an EMILY’s List event where she warned Kirk that “silence is betrayal” when it comes to failing to take a stand against Trump’s criticism of Curiel. “Trump may be a clown, but he isn’t funny. He’s not a riverboat gambler to be admired,” Duckworth said.

The Kirk campaign had no direct response Monday. But in his statement Tuesday, Kirk said, “I have spent my life building bridges and tearing down barriers — not building walls. That’s why I find Donald Trump’s belief that an American-born judge of Mexican descent is incapable of fairly presiding over his case is not only dead wrong, it is un-American.”

As I’ve noted before in this and other contexts, Kirk is among the most vulnerable of the Republican Senators up for re-election this year. According to most polls, he has been trailing his Democratic opponent Tammy Duckworth for some time now and the expectation is that he is likely to lose in November regardless of what he or the rest of the GOP might do. That being said, he is continuing to fight for re-election and can ill afford any mistakes or other issues that could hold him back over the next five months. Chief among those, obviously, is Trump and the fact that he is not only vastly unpopular but even more so in a solidly blue state such as Illinois. If Kirk is to survive, repudiating Trump in the wake of his most recent comments is really his only option at this point. It likely won’t be enough in the end, but the fact that he’s at the head of those in the GOP formally turning their back on Trump is not at all surprising.

Up next was Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker, who backed away from his support of Trump in comments this morning:

Faced with mounting controversies surrounding his party’s nominee for president, Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker is backing away from his pledge to support Donald Trump.

In an interview with Madison, Wisconsin’s WKOW, Walker, who dropped out of the GOP race in September 2015, lamented the general-election matchup between presumptive nominees Trump and Democrat Hillary Clinton.

“It’s just sad in America that we have such poor choices right now,” he said.

Walker, who endorsed Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Texas) in the Wisconsin primary, had previously pledged to support the Republican nominee “whoever that is,” arguing that any GOP candidate would be preferable to Clinton. On Tuesday, however, the Wisconsin governor seemed less certain of his ability to back Trump, pointing to the candidate’s accusations of bias against a Hispanic federal judge as especially troubling.

“He’s not yet the nominee. Officially that won’t happen until the middle of July, and so for me that’s kind of the timeframe,” Walker said. “In particular I want to make sure that he renounces what he says, at least in regards to this judge.”

Walker’s comment that Trump wasn’t the nominee yet seemed to come out of left field until it was joined by this from conservative talk show host Hugh Hewitt, who now seems to be calling on Republicans to find a way to deny the nomination to Trump even at this late date:

Either the Republican National Committee must change its convention rules or the presumptive Republican nominee needs to change his personality, conservative radio host Hugh Hewitt remarked on his program Wednesday morning.

“They ought to get together and let the convention decide. And if Donald Trump pulls over a makeover in the next four to five weeks, great, they can keep him. It would be better if he had done so 5 weeks ago. But it’s awful and it ended bad last night,” he said, in reference to Trump’s speech from his swanky Westchester County golf club in which he read from a teleprompter and promised to turn the page and earn the votes of Republican voters who opposed him in the primary.

Accepting of Trump as the nominee against Hillary Clinton at this point, Hewitt said, is “like ignoring Stage IV cancer. You can’t do it, you gotta go attack it.”

“And right now the Republican Party is facing — the plane is headed towards the mountain after the last 72 hours,” he said.

Hewitt, who sought to remain studiously neutral during the Republican primary, preceded his remarks by playing a clip of Stephen Colbert on “The Late Show” upon the circumstances of the general election. “It looks like the general election will come down to Hillary Clinton versus Donald Trump, which is fitting, really, since she’ll be the first, you know, female nominee of her party, and he’ll be his party’s last nominee,” Colbert cracked.

“Get that America?” Hewitt said. “Our party’s last nominee.”

While Hewitt didn’t go into details, what he’s essentially suggesting is that Republican insiders attempt to change the rules prior to the convention in Cleveland in a way that will unbind the delegates that have already been pledged in an effort to both deny Trump a victory on the first ballot and, eventually, nominate some other candidate in his place. Whether this other candidate would be one of the people who ran against Trump this year such as Ted Cruz, Marco Rubio, or John Kasich, or whether it would be someone who was not in the race at all such as Mitt Romney, this is a move that would tear the Republican Party apart more than anything else that could happen other than an independent conservative candidate that ended up costing the GOP the General Election. It would mean denying the nomination to the candidate who has earned at least 1,500 delegates, nearly 1,000 more than his nearest opponent, gotten more than thirteen million popular votes, and won more than 30 of the contests held since February 1st.

As Damon Linker notes, this puts Republicans in a very rough spot:

The fact is that Republican politicians are in a terrible bind. Trump is very bad news. But he won the votes. He was the clear choice of the Republican electorate — just as every presidential nominee since the 1970s has been the clear choice of the party’s voters. A lot of writers and analysts, especially committed members of the conservative movement, convinced themselves over the past few months that this wasn’t true — that Trump’s victory was somehow electorally illegitimate. But now that the primary season is officially over, we can see that this is clearly false.

(…)

Which means that Republican politicians who take a stand against Trump are ultimately taking a stand against the voters — telling them, in effect, that they made a mistake, and that their will deserves to be thwarted.

That’s not something done lightly in a democracy. It’s not even clear that it can be done successfully.

In the case of individual office holders, taking such a stand could easily lead to retribution at the ballot box, including victory for a pro-Trump challenger, which would ultimately further the overall Trumpification of the party.

As for the party as a whole, if its leadership plotted with pledged delegates to attempt to wrest the nomination from Trump at the convention (as some on Twitter appeared to be advocating on Tuesday), the party itself would be torn apart, with roughly 40 percent of its voters feeling justly betrayed. The only question would be whether they would bolt the party altogether to form a new one — or merely refuse to vote at all.

Either way, the GOP would be shattered — and the anger, discontent, and resentment that Trump tapped into with his campaign would still be out there in country, searching for a tribune and champion, only now it would be even further radicalized by the embittering experience of having its wishes scuttled.

Allahpundit makes a similar point:

For all the windage this past week in conservative media and among Republican pols about his war on Judge Curiel, he’s already unified the party to almost the same extent Romney had at this point in the 2012 cycle. That won’t hold if the party crowns an eleventh-hour dark-horse nominee instead, especially if Trump runs some sort of informal write-in campaign in the fall or sues to get on the ballot as an independent. His judge comments were in poor taste but most voters won’t care; we’re so far out from the election still that I wonder how many will even remember them this fall. Either Republican voters, contra the pundits, are right that Trump is the party’s strongest candidate against Hillary or they’re wildly wrong and deserve to have that demonstrated to them in the most excruciating way possible this fall. That is to say, if Linker’s right that this is ultimately a “voter problem,” the solution to that problem isn’t to have Reince Priebus swoop in and overrule the voters. All that’ll do is further convince populists that the elites are stupid and don’t play fair. The solution is to let them learn the lesson the hard way. And it will be hard, for everyone.

Linker is right about the consequences of the strategy that Hewitt appears to be advocating, of course, but at this point it’s hard to see how a civil war inside the Republican Party can be avoided regardless of what happens over the next five months. If Trump goes head-to-head against Clinton and loses, which certainly seems like the most likely outcome at this point, there will likely be a post-election civil war that could last for years as the pro-Trump and anti-Trump factions fight each other over who was responsible for the loss and what direction the party should take going forward. This fight will only be magnified if the GOP suffers significant down ballot losses in the Senate, the House, and the states. That fight is likely to continue through the elections in 2018 and 2020. If Trump somehow manages to lose, then the battle between the White House and Republican-controlled Congress will likely be carried over into the party rank-and-file. Regardless of what anyone is saying publicly, there are obviously many members of the House and Senate GOP Caucuses who are likely to oppose the more controversial aspects of Trump’s agenda, especially in areas such as immigration, international trade, and the like. The battles over these policies are unlikely to be peaceful, which is perhaps one reason why party insiders continue to discuss ways to undercut Trump’s campaign even as the Cleveland convention gets closer and closer.

In reality, of course, what Hewitt and others are suggesting is yet another in a long string of “Stop Trump” efforts that amounts to too little, too late. If Donald Trump was going to be stopped, it’s clear in retrospect that the time to do so was long ago, when his campaign was still in its infancy and arguably vulnerable to the kind of sustained attack that a rival with real resources and the willingness to take the slings and arrows that would have been directed at them. Instead, what we saw was months of denial among top Republicans and conservative pundits that the Trump phenomenon could possibly last, or that he could possibly sustain the momentum that pushed him to the top of the polls by mid-July of last year. One we were at the point where Trump was not only winning primaries by a wide margin, but also fending off the attacks that opponents such as Ted Cruz and Marco Rubio launched against him with surprising ease for a political amateur, it should have been apparent that stopping Trump before the convention was an idea that simply had no chance of succeeding. Now that he has not only clinched the nomination, but done so decisively, the idea that he can somehow be denied the nomination is foolish nonsense. Regardless of whatever it is Kirk, Walker, and Hewitt may want at this point, Donald Trump will be the nominee of the Republican Party, there’s really nothing that can be done about that. As I noted yesterday, that leaves Republicans with a choice, either they support their party’s nominee even though he’s a bigot or they stand against him, refuse to support or vote for him, and get ready to fix the damage the GOP is likely to suffer when this is all over.

FILED UNDER: Campaign 2016, Congress, Donald Trump, Politicians, US Politics
Doug Mataconis
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. Before joining OTB, he wrote at Below The BeltwayThe Liberty Papers, and United Liberty Follow Doug on Twitter | Facebook

Comments

  1. Andre Kenji says:

    There is no Civil War. There is just an extremely unpopular nominee and the members of his part are trying to distance from him. It´s simple as that.

  2. Neil Hudelson says:

    “May” be starting to grow? Lincoln *may* have had a slight headache after visiting Ford Theater.

  3. Jen says:

    They cannot push him out without major blow back from voters. The GOP’s only shot at rescuing this cycle is to have Trump step down willingly, using whatever pie-in-the-sky reason he or they can come up with–him abdicating is the only situation his supporters will accept as legitimate. Given Trump’s ego, I don’t think this is likely–but then again, he doesn’t seem to be having as much fun as he was in the primary either.

    Bloomberg is reporting that Trump has dialed back on his commitment to raise $1 billion, and Politico has a piece reporting that his fundraisers think there’s “no way” he could get to that number anyway. The real risk here, as everyone at the RNC knows, is that Trump will dampen the ability to fundraise across the board, up and down the ticket.

    The impact of this cycle will be deep and long-lasting, and I think civil war and bloodbath are probably pretty good descriptors.

  4. An Interested Party says:

    Chickens coming home to roost…this has been a long time coming…

  5. James Pearce says:

    Either Republican voters, contra the pundits, are right that Trump is the party’s strongest candidate against Hillary or they’re wildly wrong and deserve to have that demonstrated to them in the most excruciating way possible this fall.

    More excruciating than the election and re-election of Barack Obama?

    Count me skeptical that losing the presidency for the third consecutive time is going to lead the Republican faithful to re-examine their approach or their priorities. And while I don’t think the solution to the Trump problem is for “Reince Priebus to swoop in and overrule the voters,” I do think the Republican elite need to do a better job of setting expectations and demonstrating some strategic wisdom.

    For instance, on the SC vacancy or Hillary being hauled off by the FBI in handcuffs.

    In other words, the GOP probably wouldn’t have such a “voter problem” if they weren’t so dedicated to filling their voters’ heads with nonsense.

  6. michael reynolds says:

    Republicans have been so busy telling themselves that a) racism didn’t exist, or b) the only real racist is Al Sharpton, or c) that they weren’t racists, or d) all of the above, that they failed to see the hole they were digging for themselves.

  7. CSK says:

    @Jen:

    Trump himself will have to bow out with a plausible-sounding excuse, such as a suddenly diagnosed mystery ailment after he’s crowned in Cleveland. I see no possibility that he’d bow out before he gets the full glory of the nomination. But I also think he’s looking for a good excuse to bail, since he is in no way equipped to debate Hillary Clinton. He couldn’t even take on Cruz and Sanders.

  8. Hal_10000 says:

    he’s already unified the party to almost the same extent Romney had at this point in the 2012 cycle.

    What does this actually mean? I’ve seen this figure quoted a lot (87% of Republicans say they’ll vote for Trump) but I’m not sure it means what people think it means. If a lot of people have stopped identifying themselves as Republican because of Trump, then it only means the remaining Republicans support him. If you look at historical polls, that number has been steadily rising for both parties. I think it’s more reflective of the growing number of self-identified independents (whether they lean either way) than anything else.

  9. Jen says:

    @Hal_10000:

    If you look at historical polls, that number has been steadily rising for both parties.

    Could you expound on this please? I’m not sure I’m understanding you correctly–the numbers of self-identification has been dropping for both parties (last Pew: 25% R, 30% D), which means the number of independents (technically no party affiliation) has been rising. Since the Republicans have been shedding self-IDs at a greater rate, are you suggesting the Independents formerly known as Republicans (a nod to Prince, there) are supporting him?

  10. barbintheboonies says:

    It shows the Republican and Democrat party just put their fingers in the wind to see how it is blowing and how others will perceive of them. It would seem they could not stand for anything until they see the ratings. Trump gets higher ratings because he says a lot of what many people frustrated with the same old BS are thinking. I am sure they don’t agree with a lot of what he says but for many it is better than doing the same thing over and over and expecting a different outcome. They wanted change in 2008 and in 2010 the great takeover, then 2012. Obama care was supposed to help, and it did, but it had a lot of us paying more and getting less from insurance companies. I think Trump is an a— Hole but the Democrats did this to themselves. I do fear a nut like him in the white -house but it may take a nut to bring the American people together again. Dems and Repubs and the rest working together.

  11. gVOR08 says:

    …or the presumptive Republican nominee needs to change his personality – Hugh Hewitt.

    That’s the problem? His personality? Not his total incompetence? Not his absurd pretense of policy? Not his racism and sexism? That’d all be OK if he said it nicer?

  12. michael reynolds says:

    @barbintheboonies:
    It’s our fault the GOP nominated a racist, misogynist pig?

    What exactly is the great crisis that we caused that forced Republicans to choose an idiot psychopath? Please explain in detail.

  13. steve s says:

    It’s Obama’s fault, Michael. Obama deliberately picked a divisive skin color which played the race card. He’s the real racist.

  14. Gromitt Gunn says:

    @michael reynolds: Fid you also read that to yourself in a Palin voice?

  15. steve s says:

    There is no Civil War. There is just an extremely unpopular nominee and the members of his part are trying to distance from him. It´s simple as that.

    For decades the GOP dogwhistled the racism, and that gave the media an excuse to pretend it wasn’t there. Trump’s messing everything up by being explicit with the racism. Who’s to say that after Trump loses they can’t just go back to the slightly masked racism?

  16. steve s says:

    I mean, are significant numbers of republicans saying “Wait, it turns out lotsa republicans like being bigots toward women, blacks, muslims…like the liberals said…I thought they were just being mean but it’s true! and wait! this explains why black people vote against us whenever possible…and…wait a minute! THAt’s why we did all those voter ID laws, just to try to cheat…Sakes alive, me and my principled conservative friends really need to do some soul searching and move this party in a more positive direction for the future!”

    Fuck no they’re not saying that. They’re saying “Ahhh Donald’s making it too hard! Get him off the stage! Get a more sophisticated republican up there, or the jig is up!”

  17. stonetools says:

    Bill Clinton:
    My plan to get my wife elected President by encouraging Trump to run for President as a Republican is working as planned. Muhahahahaha!”

    (touches pinkie to mouth, strokes cat.)

  18. Loviatar says:

    @stonetools:

    Best damm politician since Cardinal Richelieu. I wish I could upvote this a thousand times. And the best part about it, for all the angst that Trump is causing the Republicans, they’ll have an ulcer when they realize that it was slick Willy doing it to them again.

  19. Gustopher says:

    I think people want there to be a Republican civil war, but only because they want to believe the Republicans have some standards so they can feel better about their own support of Republicans. I haven’t found any evidence of a civil war yet though.

  20. steve s says:

    me either. they’re ticked that donald’s not masking the racism effectively. It jams them up. usually they blame the media, or obama, or whatever. They can’t attack racism or they’ll piss off all their supporters. The RWNJ blogs are pissed at Ryan bigtime.

    Redstate, my emphasis:

    This is exactly how everyone in the media is reporting this. And why shouldn’t they? Paul Ryan said just days ago that Trump is a racist. Now he is telling House GOP members to vote for him and support him anyway. There’s no plainer way to say that racism really doesn’t matter to Ryan and that he thinks it shouldn’t matter to Republicans.

    Which is pretty much the craziest suggestion anyone who professes to belong to the Party of Lincoln should ever make.

    Look, if this was the direction he was going to go, then he should have defended Trump’s comments, or at least said they weren’t racist. Having said that, he cannot go out there and harangue elected Republicans to support Trump anyway. Jeez Louise, why is this so hard?

    In plain daylight, they’re saying the big problem is that Paul Ryan didn’t lie about the racism.

  21. michael reynolds says:

    People keep talking about Trump apologizing. Like he belched at the table or something.

    He’s a nasty, rancid, pea-brained, creep with the mental maturity of an eight year-old. He’s a moron, a fraud, a rip-off artist.. Apologize? Sure, and then Denny Hastert can apologize for raping children, because it’s not about the festering cesspool inside this past-his-sell-by-date, malicious jack o’ lantern looking scumbag, it’s all about messaging.

    Here’s what they are tacitly admitting: Sure, the GOP is a racist party, but we’re never supposed to admit it.

  22. Davebo says:

    @Andre Kenji:

    So true. It’s another incantation of

    for certain that idiotic statement will kill his primary chances!

    Donald Trump IS the GOP right now, regardless of how some who worked so hard to make it happen are now having second thoughts.

    Turns out herding cats is really hard.

  23. Todd says:

    In the end most Republicans are going to end up voting for Donald Trump. Let’s face it, by 2016 there’s almost no excuse for not knowing that the Republican party is at least “a little bit racist”. If they’re still Republicans, Trump’s comments are not going to be enough to get them to vote for Clinton … or even stay home. A lot of them really do care (very much) about that open Supreme Court seat.

    As for Senators like Mark Kirk who are trying to distance themselves from Trump, this probably almost ensures his loss in November … if it wasn’t already all but guaranteed anyway. This is almost the flip side of all the former Democratic Senators from the south who tried to distance themselves from President Obama. (note: I’m not in anyway saying President Obama is “bad” in the same way Trump is). Repudiating the President almost certainly didn’t change the minds of any conservative or even moderate Republicans who were planning to vote against them, but likely did suppress enthusiasm among their own potential base. This is likely what will happen with Kirk, and Johnson and maybe even Kelly Ayotte. There are virtually no Democrats, or even left-leaning swing voters who are going to now think “Oh, how reasonable, I think I’ll vote for them instead of their Democratic opponent who I agree with more on policy.”. But on the flip side, they likely will encourage at least a few pissed off Trump supporters to vote 3rd party, or just leave the Senate line on their ballot blank altogether.

  24. Pete S says:

    @Todd:

    In the end most Republicans are going to end up voting for Donald Trump. Let’s face it, by 2016 there’s almost no excuse for not knowing that the Republican party is at least “a little bit racist”. If they’re still Republicans, Trump’s comments are not going to be enough to get them to vote for Clinton … or even stay home.

    Yes, this. I don’t believe that the Republican Party is institutionally racist, but they have made the business decision that “the racists are going to vote for somebody so it may as well be us.” A bar owner whose customer base is diminishing may make the same choice. Then one day they come to work and realize they are running a neo-Nazi bar.

    The party cannot denounce the racists but at least until this year they have mostly managed to keep them from using their outside voices during a campaign. I don’t believe it is a coincidence that the racists push for more power in the GOP has come within a few months of some GOP state governments finally being shamed into removing Confederate flags from state property.

  25. Pch101 says:

    @Pete S:

    I don’t believe that the Republican Party is institutionally racist

    The party of voter suppression and the Southern Strategy isn’t institutionally racist? Seriously?

    Until several decades ago, neither major party was exactly friendly to minorities or free of racism. It also wasn’t a political issue for white racists per se since both major parties were not particularly favorable to minority causes; they didnt need to “take back America” since they hadn’t ceded that power (emancipation notwithstanding.).

    Since then, the Democratic party (which was probably the worse of the two parties) began to move toward more racial equality, despite the fact that one of its major wings was vehemently opposed to it. Initially, this led to some third-party revolts (Strom Thurmond in 1948, then George Wallace in 1968) but those energies were eventually channeled by the Republicans via the Southern Strategy to their benefit so that the most racist wing of the Democratic Party would eventually switch sides.

    So we’ve gone from having two parties with varying degrees of racism to one that has specifically made a home for them while the other has largely turned away from them. Not all Republicans are racist, of course, but the GOP is the party where such ideas are either embraced (openly but in code) or else are tolerated and rationalized. It’s institutionalized, just a bit more subtle than it would have been fifty years ago.

    If the GOP had any guts and long-term vision, then the party would make a point of rejecting service to this group, since the Dems have gone too far to take back the bigots; they would be forced back into the world of third-party politics and lose influence. But doing that would come at the cost of a GOP-dominated South and their House majority, so they aren’t going to do it even though it reduces their odds of winning the presidency and the long-term demographics aren’t on their side.

  26. Lit3Bolt says:

    @michael reynolds:

    This a thousand times.

    Republicans have railed for years about “political correctness,” “affirmative action,” “illegal immigrants,” “Sharia Law,” “public schools,” “welfare queens,” “drug dealers,” “Voter fraud,” “street gangs,” “OJ Simpson,” “Obamacare,” and probably hundreds of others that I’m forgetting about.

    All of these are about race. It was always about race and power. Black and brown people and women aren’t supposed to tell their white masters what to do or how to act. Such was an affront that could only be repaid with unthinking white RAGE.

    And then Obama was elected and the GOP lost their sh*t.

    Rather than blame themselves (because after all, George W. Bush was such a bad president that this country elected an African-American son of a Kenyan immigrant TWICE), the GOP doubled down. Rather than compromise with a moderate center-left technocrat and get a Grand Bargain and the Keystone Pipeline and charter schools and a whole bunch of conservative legislation, they made Obama into a devil-Islamic-Communist-monkey, simultaneously subhuman and superhuman. Anyone with the slightest interest in American history could see where this was going.

    And then came Trump.

    Trump didn’t bother with coded racism. He made it explicit. It was as if Alex Jones had the powers of Professor X and was telepathically controlling Trump. Suddenly, here was a politician who was rich, made liberals mad, and confirmed and repeated everything Republicans had been watching and listening for years. And he didn’t code it or hide it! He was for the White Tribe, loud and proud.

    And the White Tribe, aka the GOP voters, responded.

    Now with Trump as their standard bearer, they want their wall and deportations. They want to roll back civil rights. They want women as chattel and people with dark skin invisible and silent. They want the pandering they’ve been getting to be made reality. They don’t want to hear that such things are bad politics, or bad business, or impossible demographically. And because of the GOP brain drain, they’ve infested themselves throughout the conservative power structure.

    It’s 2016. There are no old school Robert Byrds left to provide a fig leaf for the Jesse Helms and Strom Thurmonds. The Republicans, the anti-slavery party, are now officially the party of Grand Wizards and Neo-Nazis.

    But James Joyner cares more about State Dept e-mail policy than that. It’s ok, Dr. Joyner. We understand.

    Go Rebels!

  27. Eric Florack says:

    So let’s make sure we understand what we’re dealing with here. We’ve been told repeatedly that #nevertrump is inconsequential. It doesn’t matter. Trump will be president with or without the support of the base. Remember Jeb Bush said he didn’t need the base either.

    Okay, that to the side for a moment…

    Well, if we are so unimportant, why are the liberal Billionaire’s supporters going nuts these days about the growing numbers of conservatives who don’t want Trump in the White House?

    If our support isn’t needed, then why are you all so worried about it? Why is it were constantly hearing anybody voting against Trump, is voting for Hillary Clinton?

    The truth is anyone seeking the White House needs the support of the party base.

    You want the support of conservatives. You desperately need the support of conservatives. If you want our support, and then you have to give us somebody that we can support. Donald Trump is not such a person. Sorry, he’s just not. And you and your candidate will lose.

    This is precisely what has happened the last several Cycles.

    You have but one option. Hand Donald Trump his hat and coat, give him a good swift kick in the ass out the door at Cleveland. It’s the only way the GOP is going to salvage this situation and keep the criminal Clinton’s from obtaining the White House again.

    It’s the only way

  28. al-Alameda says:

    Let’s clear this up right now:
    The only unifying force in the Republican Party right now is Hillary Clinton.

  29. Electroman says:

    “The hottest places in Hell are reserved for those who in time of moral crisis preserve their neutrality.”

  30. DrDaveT says:

    @Eric Florack:

    The truth is anyone seeking the White House needs the support of the party base.

    You want the support of conservatives. You desperately need the support of conservatives.

    It was nice of you to put the non-sequitur in one easy-to-find place.

    ‘Conservatives’ are not the base of any US party at the moment. The Democratic base is not conservative — it’s a loose coalition of moderates, progressives, and classical liberals. The Republican base is (as the primary season has proven beyond any doubt) also not conservative — it is populist, jingoist, isolationist, racist, and anti-intellectual.

    Nobody really needs the support of actual conservatives right now; there just aren’t enough of them to matter. #NeverTrump is ineffectual and irrelevant precisely because it is a small minority of the GOP, not the base.

  31. Pch101 says:

    @Eric Florack:

    You keep losing elections because you grossly overestimate your importance.

    Which is good for me, so please keep it up.

  32. C. Clavin says:

    @DrDaveT:
    Exactly right…and Florack is certainly NOT a Conservative.
    If you want to vote for the most Conservative candidate in this election…then you have to vote for Clinton 45.

  33. gVOR08 says:

    There is no such thing as “the Republicans” or even “th Republican establishment”. As Charie Pierce said a year ago,

    It has been an article of faith in this shebeen almost since we opened it in 2011 that there is no actual Republican party in any real sense any more. Ever since the Supreme Court legalized influence-peddling in its Citizens United and McCutcheon decisions, there only has been a loosely held group of independent franchises who are doing business for themselves under the Republican Party brand.

    So there is no one to stop Trump.

    Decades of conservative media have created a “conservative”* base that is totally divorced from reality. In addition to being ignorant, they are also racist and sexist**. And what passes for the establishment is almost as bad. The base is what, 30% of the electorate. Conservatives believe their own bull shit. Many federal level pols, and many billionaire donors, actually believe the nonsense they’ve been peddling: AGW denial, supply side, Obama is somehow “other” (but we’re not racist), W kept us safe, whatever.

    The only assets remaining to what passes as the Republican Party has are their donors and the base voters. So how do they reform their party? As long as their platform is taxes and regulation for thee, but not for me, who but the delusional base would vote for them? And if they change the platform to something rational, how do they distinguish themselves from the Democrats they hate?

    As I see it, either the GOPs settle back to an establishment conning the rubes, or they become a nativist confederate and cowboy state rump.
    ________
    * “conservative” in quotes so I don’t have to argue about what “conservative” means in 21st century America.
    ** oddly, even a lot of the women seem sexist, see Schlafly, Phyllis

  34. Eric Florack says:

    @C. Clavin:

    Really? On what basis do you say that?

    Because I refuse to play the game of choosing between two corrupt liberal politicians for the office of president?

  35. Eric Florack says:

    @Pch101:

    Well that’s what Jeb Bush was saying. You can win an election without the base. How that worked out for him? How that work out for Mitt Romney? How that worked out for both? How’s that work out for John McCain?

    I think if anything the importance of the conservative wing of the party is underestimated.

    Remember this if nothing else Kama the one thing that the Republican Party leadership fears more than anything else, more than losing elections, more than Hillary Clinton, more than Donald Trump, is actually being conservative.