George Will Leaving GOP Over Donald Trump

George Will isn't just refusing to vote for Donald Trump, he's leaving the GOP entirely

george-will-shirtsleeves

The triumph of Donald Trump in the Presidential race has led a whole host of Republicans lining up to oppose him over the past several weeks, with the list growing to include sitting Governors such as John Kasich and Larry Hogan and long-standing Republican advisers and insiders from the past such as Richard ArmitageHank Paulson, and Brent Scowcroft. As I noted earlier this month, the exodus was growing so rapidly that it seemed to be becoming something of a stampede. Now, that exodus is being joined by one of the most prominent conservative pundits and analysts of the past thirty years, who says he’s not only announcing his opposition to Donald Trump, he’s leaving the Republican Party:

George F. Will, a conservative columnist and prominent Republican pundit for the past 40 years, said he has left the Republican Party because Donald J. Trump is the party’s presumptive presidential nominee.

Mr. Will revealed his decision on Friday in an interview with PJ Media. He said he had switched his party registration to unaffiliated this month, adding that Republicans should “grit their teeth” during a Hillary Clinton presidency and then hope to beat her in 2020.

“This is not my party,” Mr. Will said in a speech on Friday at the Federalist Society before the PJ Media interview.

Mr. Will has criticized Mr. Trump throughout his presidential run.

“Only he knows what he is hiding by being the first presidential nominee in two generations not to release his tax returns,” Mr. Will wrote in his Washington Post column on Wednesday. “It is reasonable to assume that the returns would refute many of his assertions about his net worth, his charitableness and his supposed business wizardry. They might also reveal some awkwardly small tax payments.”

Will doesn’t say who he might vote for in the fall, although he did give passing mention in his talk to the Libertarian Party ticket consisting of former Republican Governors Gary Johnson and William Weld, which has gained much attention in recent weeks from many on the right given the angst over Trump and the fact that many of the Republicans who have broken with Trump do not fit the bill as people who would be inclined to vote for Clinton. Based on his previous writings, though, it seems as though he’d probably be more comfortable with Johnson than Clinton given that his conservatism has seemed to move in a more libertarian direction in recent years. Leaving that decision aside, though, the fact that Will is not only joining the “Never Trump” crowd but taking the extra step of leaving the GOP itself by changing his party registration, which means among other things that he would now be unable to vote in party primaries in his home state of Maryland, is what’s truly surprising. Will is a life long Republican who has publicly supported even some of the more controversial nominees the GOP has selected, although he has become more critical in recent years in the wake of the triumph of the Tea Party and the rise of candidates Sarah Palin, Christine O’Donnell, and Ted Cruz. Will has also been highly critical of Trump throughout the course of this campaign as well as long before, so it’s not surprising that he says he cannot support him. Leaving the GOP altogether is a different story, though, and it comes as enough of a surprise that it seems likely that Will intended it to stand as something of an emphasis on how serious he is about his argument against Trump.

Will’s reaction to Trump is, of course, entirely understandable. This is a candidate who has made outrageous comments about a Federal Judge, attacks on Hillary Clinton that accomplish nothing except regurgitating the arguments of the 90s, or who continues to stand behind his Muslim immigration ban, and who has insinuated that President Obama secretly sympathizes with ISIS and Islamic terrorists, Donald Trump is proving himself to be as controversial as ever. Before that, he was making disparaging comments about Mexicans and Muslims, mocking disabled people, attacking women like Megyn Kelly andCarly Fiorina in the most crass and demeaning manner, encouraging his supporters to engage in violence against supporters, and demonstrating utter disdain for the Rule of Law and Freedom of the Press. Say what you might about George Will, but it’s fairly clear that this is not the Republican Party that he represented, so declining to support Trump and leave the GOP is a perfectly reasonable course of action.

In the end, it seems unlikely that Will’s decision will have a significant impact on Republican support for Trump going forward, though. For one thing, the subset of people who might be inclined to take Will’s opinion into account in their own evaluation of Trump are likely already leaning toward a similar position on their own if they haven’t done so already. People in other segments of the Republican Party are less likely to be influenced by Will’s words, though, because to many in that group, people like George Will are members of the so-called ‘establishment’ who are to be defeated rather than listened to. Those people have long been unreachable by reason and logic, though, so it’s unlikely they’re going to even listen to people like Will. They ought to, though, because Will is correct in diagnosing a serious problem with the Republican Party. Trumpism isn’t just a matter of one man who has managed gain control of the Republican Party, it’s about an effort to turn the GOP into the kind of populist, nativist party that seldom does well on a national scale in the United States. If that’s what Republicans want, then I suppose they’re getting what they deserve in that regard. As Will puts it, it’s up to others who care about the GOP to hope the damage of 2016 is as minimal as possible and that they’re able to help rebuild a damaged party when it’s all over.

FILED UNDER: Campaign 2016, 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. Ben Wolf says:

    George Will’s actions are irrelevant because George Will is a fool and not to be taken seriously by anyone with a memory stretching back more than ten seconds.

    The Republican Party is not being taken in a populist direction, it has always depended upon manipulation of darker populist sentiment for its continued political relevance. With Trump it’s simply more overt.

  2. OzarkHillbilly says:

    “Chaos, panic, disorder… My work here is done.”

  3. edmondo says:

    Hank Paulson – George Will – Robert Kagan They are all “with her”. Can a Dick Cheney endorsement be far behind?

    With this list of supporters can someone please tell me how anyone could consider Hillary the “lesser evil”?

  4. Pch101 says:

    Say what you might about George Will, but it’s fairly clear that this is not the Republican Party that he represented

    George Will’s GOP is a noble institution that should make it difficult to vote, that regards climate change as a progressive attack against freedom, and that requires government to be small so that it can fit inside of vaginas. Will is enamored by William F. Buckley, whose National Review spoke against the Civil Rights Act and helped to pave the way for the Southern Strategy.

    Will thinks Trump is a fraud because Trump is a Johnny-come-lately to the pro-life and anti-Obamacare effort. It’s nice to see the GOP unraveling at the seams, but conservatives such as Will don’t like Trump because they believe that he’s a liberal. Will is drinking some extremist KoolAid of his own.

  5. Blue Galangal says:

    With this list of supporters can someone please tell me how anyone could consider Hillary the “lesser evil”?

    More to the point, how can anyone argue, with a straight face, that Hillary is a dangerous communist? It won’t be enough to get my crazy mom to vote for her, but my dad might still be convinced, since she doesn’t appear to be that outside the mainstream now. #thankstrump

  6. Kylopod says:

    Will doesn’t say who he might vote for in the fall

    Will said it was important that Trump loses. If he follows that logic, it only leads to one conclusion.

    Will’s hatred of Democrats has always blended the ideological with the personal, which is to say he uses his abstract hatred for liberalism as an excuse to launch the most false and lame-brained cheap shots he can come with. Hence he wrote column after column about how Obama’s overuse of the pronoun “I” illustrated his narcissism, despite this claim being both factually untrue and irrelevant. (As the analysis I link to reveals, Obama doesn’t use “I” more often than previous presidents–in fact he uses it slightly less, apparently–and in any case the mere frequency of the pronoun isn’t a very good measure of narcissism. For example, the phrase “I think” is generally used as a form of humility in one’s conclusions.)

    Yet Will has a history of publicly disavowing any support for the GOP nominee. In 1992, when there were three candidates running, he said he simply wrote in Jack Kemp’s name on the ballot. He was never a big fan of the younger Bush, either, and in 2008 he wrote that Barack Obama was more temperamentally fit for the office than John McCain, which at the time I thought was as close as he’d ever get to endorsing a Democrat. Of course, never in my wildest dreams did I imagine he’d one day be faced with the choice between one and Donald Trump.

  7. EddieInCA says:

    The list of GOP heavyweights who are either leaving the GOP or have come out for Clinton despite not leaving the GOP is getting pretty long.

    I imagine we will start seeing ads soon with those names and faces attached. The ads write themselves.

  8. Andre Kenji says:

    George Will vote is not going to make a difference in Maryland. But if he and other newspaper columnists can convince some hundreds of people in swing states to stay home, that´s going to make a lot of difference

    .@Kylopod: A Republican that Will really seemed to dislike was George Herbert Bush in 1988, much more than his son in 2000. Reading his columns, he looked like to be much more sympathetic to Dukakis and Bentsen, his only defense of the Republican ticket was that the Republicans had more competent people to fill Executive posts.

  9. Kylopod says:

    @EddieInCA: I don’t have the best track record for predictions in this cycle, but one thing I do seem to have gotten right is that I predicted that if Trump became the nominee, there’d be many defections from prominent Republicans. I said this while some others were arguing that all Republicans would simply fall in line.

    Here is what I wrote in February:

    “And while I fully expect a majority of Republicans to get on board in the event that he’s nominated, there will likely be a lot of high-profile defections, just like in 2008 after Sarah Palin was announced.”

    And here’s what I said in April:

    “I predict there will be some high-profile defections from some Republican elites if he’s nominated, who will either endorse Hillary, endorse a third-party candidate, or proclaim they’re not going to vote at all.”

    It’s still far from clear what impact this will have on the election, if any. Last month 538.com estimated that Trump’s level of support from Republican voters was fairly normal at this stage and in line with past GOP nominees. So it’s possible the NeverTrumpers are simply irrelevant to how GOP voters will behave. I’ve heard people state this as if it’s self-evident, but I’m not so convinced.

    One thing I’d like to know is if fewer voters identify as Republican than the last time around. Also keep in mind that even a small drop-off of GOP support can have a profound impact. In the entire 21st century so far, the GOP nominee has consistently gotten around 92% of support from party members, with Republicans constituting around 35% of the electorate. Romney, for example, got 93% support with 32% turnout. Even a modest drop-off from there–say, 88% support with 30% turnout–would result in a loss of more than 3% in the popular vote–and that’s compared to a candidate who barely broke 47%. These things matter.

  10. Slugger says:

    Luckily for Republicans HRC is pretty much a conventional Republican. She started as a “Goldwater Girl” and now has close Wall Street connections and a interventionist foreign policy. True, she has a few nods toward the left under pressure from the Bernie bros, but these are gestures not convictions. Bill Clinton was quite the Republican with a Goldman/Sachs Sec Treasury, welfare reform, declining federal work force, and a balanced budget. Hillary will do things that Hank Paulson likes, and he, Will, and others are just admitting the obvious.
    There are the social issues that the religion drum beaters care about, but I’d bet that Mr. Will’s circles has some gays that he considers as his kind of people, and not something to make a fuss over.

  11. Mr. Prosser says:

    I have to agree with Zandar’s blog on this, “It’s far more likely that Will is walking away from this slow-motion car crash so he can say “See? Trump failed our conservative values, but I was smart enough to know better.” He’s saving his career, is what he’s doing. Nothing more, nothing less. Count on it.”

  12. Dave D says:

    He should stick to writing his irrelevant opinions on baseball and spare us of his irrelevant opinions on politics. His column throughout the Obama administration can be summed up to old man yells at cloud.

  13. Barry says:

    @Mr. Prosser: Seconded.

    In addition, there most repugnant parts of Trump for Will (and Republicans in general) are simply that Trump is uncouth and says the code words in the clear.

  14. Franklin says:

    @Pch101:

    “government to be small so that it can fit inside of vaginas”

    If somebody has ever said this before, I missed it. ‘Cuz that’s funny!

  15. Stormy Dragon says:

    After these comments, I just don’t understand why polarization is at an all time high.

  16. Davebo says:

    When I think about all the push back against the idiocy George Will did over the past 15 years I shed a tear for his disappointment in the current GOP.

    Wait, who am I kidding?

  17. Davebo says:

    @Stormy Dragon:

    Lo Siento Mucho Jorge!

  18. gVOR08 says:

    Will helped build the modern Republican Party. Will helped break the modern Republican Party, and now Will is walking away hoping someone else will clean up the mess.

  19. gVOR08 says:

    Someone did a study years ago and found a very strong negative correlation between how financially successful a pundit was and how correct their predictions were. The conclusion was that you become a success as a pundit by telling an audience what they want to hear, without regard for whether it’s true. George Will has made a lot of money as a pundit.

    Also, Doug, pundits with law degrees tended to do badly, presumably because they are trained to support their side no matter where the evidence leads. Note that lawyer is the most common background in Congress.

  20. dennis says:

    @Doug Mataconis:

    . . . it’s about an effort to turn the GOP into the kind of populist, nativist party . . .

    Doug, I think we’ve turned that corner some time ago.

  21. WarrenPeese says:

    Having left the GOP a couple of years ago, all I can say is, welcome to my independent world, George. I also welcome your 3rd party protest vote for Johnson-Weld. It’s the only option available for NeverTrump conservatives.

  22. gVOR08 says:

    @WarrenPeese:

    Johnson-Weld. It’s the only option available for NeverTrump conservatives.

    If you live in a solidly blue or red state, whatever, cast your protest vote and feel good. If you live in a swing state, and who knows for sure where they will be this year, you risk waking up the next morning like one of those Brexit “leave” voters going, “What? I didn’t think it meant we’d leave!”

  23. MarkedMan says:

    George Will is a highly intelligent man who uses that intelligence in the service of promoting lies that correspond to his patrons’ financial and political interests. I used to read Will a couple of decades ago until I realized he was repeating false “facts” even after he most certainly knew they were false. The most recent and egregious case of this was his “global cooling” meme, wherein he took the hottest year of a decade before and compared it to the coolest year of recent times and ignored all the other years and proceeded to promote the idea over and over that this proves there is no such thing as global warming. (This is the equivalent of me picking an unusually hot day in Februray and an unusually cool day in August to “prove” that August is colder than February in upstate NY. )

    Years ago I decided that if someone shows themselves as repeatedly and fundamentally dishonest it better not to engage that person at all. George Will falls into that category.

  24. gVOR08 says:

    @MarkedMan: The first time I ever read a George Will column was decades ago. I read it because I glanced at the byline and thought it was Gary Wills. For those of you unfamiliar with Gary Wills, he is a very highly regarded writer on politics, history, and religion. His research is thorough and, having been trained as a Jesuit, his conclusions are meticulously reasoned. Three paragraphs into the George Will piece I was going, ‘WTF happened to Wills? Has he lost his mind?’ I was quite relieved to find I had mistaken the identity of the author. George Will has done nothing since but confirm my first impression. A partisan hack, but very successful at it. The innumerate AGW denial you cited being only the most egregious current example.

    @Stormy Dragon: You’re right. One of the reasons polarization is so high is that George Will, one of our most influential conservative intellectuals, is a lying POS.

  25. Kylopod says:

    @Slugger:

    Luckily for Republicans HRC is pretty much a conventional Republican. She started as a “Goldwater Girl”

    What is this with obsessing over Hillary’s political views when she was a friggin’ teenager? She became a Democrat in college, and as a Senator she had a pretty solidly liberal voting record.

    Liz Warren, on the other hand, was a Republican until she was 46. Somehow that never seems to bother the lefties.

    And on the subject of Goldwater, here is something he once said:

    “If you made it law, it would cost as much as the whole country is worth. I would have to sell my automobile, my house, my property, everything, and contribute it to that, and you know that’s not going to happen.”

    What was he referring to here? Um…Hillarycare.

  26. Erica E says:

    I WISH I had someone with the integrity of George H. Bush to vote for this year. It seems these kind of people have been driven out of the Republican Party and what is left are fringe idealists.

  27. Andrew says:

    Makes sense for Mr. Will. There is more money associated with being against Trump in your media views, than there is being Pro-Trump. Plain and simple.
    On top of the other facts listed above, bracing to play the “true conservative” card, etc.
    It’s just another person looking to save his name/promote it.

  28. JKB says:

    @Blue Galangal: More to the point, how can anyone argue, with a straight face, that Hillary is a dangerous communist?

    I agree, at best she is a dangerous socialist. According to Stalin’s standards, the world has never seen actual communism. Just socialism.

    They can’t seem to get the “wealth to be expected from the operation of the socialist methods of production” to show up and raise the standard of living of the masses to that of the distinguished holders of important office. Socialism, try as they may, seems to always favor the office holders.

    Socialism, in the sense in which Stalin has lately used the term, is moving towards communism, but is in itself not yet communism. Socialism will turn into communism as soon as the increase in wealth to be expected from the operation of the socialist methods of production has raised the lower standard of living of the Russian masses to the higher standard which the distinguished holders of important offices enjoy in present-day Russia.

    von Mises, Ludwig (2010-12-16). Planned Chaos (LvMI) (Kindle Locations 477-480). Ludwig von Mises Institute. Kindle Edition.

  29. gVOR08 says:

    @Erica E:

    I WISH I had someone with the integrity of George H. Bush to vote for this year.

    That is actually somewhat instructive. Back when HW was prez I read an article about his days in congress. Talked about him being notorious for going back to Houston and telling folks all the right wing nonsense they wanted to hear, then going back to DC and governing sensibly and seeing no connection between the two, In his day, he could get away with that. Now, with the nationalization of the news, the web, and and the constant threat of a challenge from the right, they can’t. Even if, hypothetically, Louis Gohmert was a well informed, sensible person, he’d still have to keep up he crazy act in DC.

  30. Andrew says:

    Socialism, Communism, Capitalism, Marxism…does not all matter all. Any system that goes unchecked is bad. It does not matter the flag, the colors of said flag, the color said politicians, or which side of the aisle they may sit. All systems fail, and can be made into something horrible.
    Just because one system is your own, does not mean it can not be turned into something evil.

    Plutocracy is unfettered Capitalism. Still just as bad as any other system of failed governance.
    But, maybe that’s why all major news and networks and newspapers are all owned by a very small number of very powerful companies. It’s not the state doing it, so it can not be all bad…right?

  31. An Interested Party says:

    Luckily for Republicans HRC is pretty much a conventional Republican.

    I agree, at best she is a dangerous socialist. According to Stalin’s standards, the world has never seen actual communism. Just socialism.

    If she’s receiving both of these kinds of criticism, she must be doing something right…

  32. Andrew says:

    @An Interested Party: If Mrs. Clinton had a different consonant next her name, she would be being touted as the ‘Merican Margaret Thatcher.

    It’s just the (D) changes everything!

  33. Just 'nutha ig'rant cracker says:

    @edmondo: Really? You’re zooming us here, right?

    ***** ***** ***** ***** *****

    “Only he knows what he is hiding by being the first presidential nominee in two generations not to release his tax returns,” Mr. Will wrote in his Washington Post column on Wednesday.

    I don’t recall Romney ever actually releasing his tax returns–he DID release “selected samples” that he asserted were similar in scope to current, but I don’t recall that he actually released the most current returns. Or am I wrong?

  34. An Interested Party says:

    If Mrs. Clinton had a different consonant next her name, she would be being touted as the ‘Merican Margaret Thatcher.

    That really is a load of horseshit…for whatever faults she has, she is nothing like Margaret Thatcher…oh, and so many Republicans are so loony these days that not even someone like Thatcher could become their standard bearer…

  35. Andrew says:

    @An Interested Party:

    It is horseshit. That would not change the fact that if Mrs. Clinton had an (R) next to her name, she would have the Conservative Media Complex touting this.

    Facts? History? Reality? A Reagan-ite craves not these things.

    ….and you arrive at my point.

  36. Andre Kenji says:

    Thatcher whole political discourse was based on the idea of taking the government out of people´s lives. Hillary Clinton whole political discourse sounds much more like of a neoliberal(Or of an Atari Democrat), of increasing economic equality with a cautious use of government power.

  37. Paul Hooson says:

    George will is a decent mainstream conservative. I don’t blame him at all for his wise decision here…

  38. JohnMcC says:

    @Andrew: But there seems to be some irresistible pleasure taken by a certain kind of idiot to link the name “Stalin” with the name “Hillary”. Probably has to do with the cocaine receptors in the brain stem of those afflicted.

  39. gVOR08 says:

    @Paul Hooson:

    George will is a decent mainstream conservative.

    Got evidence to support that proposition?

  40. JohnMcC says:

    @Just ‘nutha ig’rant cracker: I had remembered it differently than you did — that after a good bit of prodding he finally produced them. So I did a quick search and it seems that we are both close to correct; he did release his returns for 2010 and 2011. They became fodder for the Obama campaign in the wake of the ’47 percent’ speech since they showed he was worth ~$100M+ and paid less percentage in taxes than the average median income earner.

    Thanx for the excuse to check myself. Maybe dementia is at bay for a few more years.

  41. Laura Koerber says:

    Well, I am glad that WIll finally figured it out . He’s been providing cover for extremists for years, trying to pretend that the Republican party is the party of his youth, not the collection of fanatics, extremists, and ignoramuses that it has become: a combination of the Know-Nothings and the Robber Barons. Reactionaries, ideologues and crazy people. . I can’t say I respect him much for this. He’s a pundit, or has pretensions to being one, so he should have realized long ago that the party had been taken over by the lunatic fringe. Better late than never, I guess.

  42. An Interested Party says:

    That would not change the fact that if Mrs. Clinton had an (R) next to her name, she would have the Conservative Media Complex touting this.

    I assume that is more of an indictment of the Conservative Media Complex than it is of Clinton as, even though she was a “Goldwater girl”, there is no way she would currently be a Republican…

  43. Kylopod says:

    Now Will is justifying his departure from the Party of Reagan by citing, um, Reagan:

    “The long and short of it is, as Ronald Reagan said when he changed his registration, ‘I did not leave the Democratic Party, the Democratic Party left me.'”

    That line always gets to me. People quote it as if it constitutes some profound insight. In fact, to anyone familiar with the circumstances of Reagan’s evolution, the statement doesn’t make one lick of sense.

    Reagan was a liberal Democrat who voted for FDR four times. When he switched to the GOP in the 1950s, it wasn’t because the Democratic Party had abandoned its libertarian roots, it was because he had grown more conservative in his middle age.

    I do agree that the GOP has changed since the start of Will’s career. But his statement has the same basic objective as when Reagan made it: it stems from a refusal to admit to being wrong, as if his basic beliefs are too pure and perfect to be subject to revision and that only outside forces can fail them.

  44. rachel says:

    @edmondo: Perhaps you missed this last month: Dick Cheney will support Trump

  45. Kari Q says:

    @Slugger:

    True, she has a few nods toward the left under pressure from the Bernie bros, but these are gestures not convictions.

    One of the interesting thing about this election is the number of people who are displaying their ability to read minds. I have had people tell me, as Slugger here, what Hillary “really” thinks, what Trump is “really” doing, and why Republicans “really” voted for Trump. Funny how none of it is ever what she says, what he says, or what Republican voters say. It’s been enlightening.

  46. Just 'nutha ig'rant cracker says:

    @Kylopod: More specifically, IIRC, he changed because he had decided that his taxes were too high and the GOP supported a lower top marginal rate. As I recall, Dennis Miller gave the same rationale in the 80s or 90s.

    The more thing change the more they stay the same.

  47. Just 'nutha ig'rant cracker says:

    @An Interested Party: Yeah, you’re pretty close to the center when both sides are shooting at you.

  48. James Joyner says:

    @Kylopod:

    Reagan was a liberal Democrat who voted for FDR four times. When he switched to the GOP in the 1950s, it wasn’t because the Democratic Party had abandoned its libertarian roots, it was because he had grown more conservative in his middle age.

    But the Democratic Party did in fact become more ideologically liberal in the late 1950s and certainly the 1960s. The New Deal was an emergency measure, not an ideological stance. Additionally, the Republican Party became the anti-Communist party and the Democrats were seen as offering a squishier foreign policy alternative and being more anti-military.

  49. Tony W says:

    @Kari Q: Trump’s apologists frequently have to clarify what he ‘meant’ when he said something crazy. It never occurs to them, it would seem, that Trump himself ought to have the oratory skill to clarify such things for himself.

    Of course that vagueness is deliberate – his words get to mean whatever the plebs what it to mean.

    Tired of the cynical BS…

  50. Andrew says:

    Clarifying for the record.

    I am not saying that Clinton IS a Republican, or in reality has sufficient enough parallels to be compared to Thatcher.

    I am poking fun at the absurdness of how a person’s view on a politician simply changes due to their political affiliation. The vitriol from the right as far as Hilary’s character would be a lot less. While the left would start picking up the slack.

  51. Franklin says:

    @rachel: Not much of a surprise to me. Cheney mostly cares about radical Islam, and Trump speaks to him on that issue.

  52. Rafer Janders says:

    @James Joyner:

    But the Democratic Party did in fact become more ideologically liberal in the late 1950s

    That is false.

    The New Deal was an emergency measure, not an ideological stance.

    Again, false. It was both, and those two are not contradictions.

    Are you sure you have any academic grounding in American government? Because from the bone-jarring ignorance above it certainly doesn’t seem like it.

  53. Kylopod says:

    @James Joyner: Reagan himself explained his transition as follows:

    “I was a Democrat when the Democratic Party stood for state rights, local autonomy, economy in government and individual freedom. Today it is the party that has changed, openly declaring for centralized federal power and government sponsored redistribution of the individual’s earnings.”

    Sorry, but it’s very hard to take the above description seriously coming from an FDR Democrat who left the party in the Eisenhower era.

    Why is it so hard to admit that Reagan was rationalizing away his own personal evolution, just like so many others who changed their political affiliation?

  54. An Interested Party says:

    While the left would start picking up the slack.

    Well hell, with plenty of supporters of Sanders, they already have…

    Additionally, the Republican Party became the anti-Communist party and the Democrats were seen as offering a squishier foreign policy alternative and being more anti-military.

    Oh really? I assume you mean that happened in the 1970s, as it was a Democrat in the 1960s who escalated the Vietnam War…after that fiasco, no wonder so many Democrats were for a “squishier” foreign policy and were anti-military…

  55. al-Alameda says:

    @JKB:

    I agree, at best she is a dangerous socialist. According to Stalin’s standards, the world has never seen actual communism. Just socialism.

    Yes, we can all agree with conservatives that socialism in say, the Netherlands, Sweden, Denmark and France, is the same as socialism in the old Soviet Union, Mao’s China, Castro’s Cuba, or Chavez’s Venezuela – there is no difference at all.

    It’s interesting how many on the Right cling to their guns, bibles, and phony analogies.

  56. Just 'nutha ig'rant cracker says:

    @rachel: Nah, he’s just revising the RINO’s list.

  57. James Joyner says:

    @Rafer Janders: @Kylopod: @An Interested Party: The Democrats became the face of the anti-war movement in the late 1960s and had become seen as the “soft on crime” party earlier than that. They lost the presidential elections in 1968, 1972, 1980, 1984, and 1988 in landslides or near-landslides, winning narrowly in 1976 in the wake of Watergate. They moved to the center under Bill Clinton and the DLC and have now reversed course, losing only two presidential elections–and only one in terms of the popular vote. Meanwhile, the Republicans became a reactionary party.

  58. Rafer Janders says:

    James’ earlier statement, which I challenged as ridiculously ignorant: But the Democratic Party did in fact become more ideologically liberal in the late 1950s

    James’ defense thereof: The Democrats became the face of the anti-war movement in the late 1960s and had become seen as the “soft on crime” party earlier than that.

    Still no defense. The Democrats only really became the face of the anti-war movement in the1970s — President Johnson, who left office that year, was the one who escalated the war up to that point and Nixon campaigned for the presidency on the Republican ticket in 1968 explicitly on the promise that he had a secret plan to end the war!

    So James’ can’t even muster up any sort of even the weakest, limpest defense of his historically ignorant belief that the Democratic Party became more ideologically liberal in the 1950’s, or that the New Deal was not an ideological stance that animated two political generations of Democrats.

  59. gVOR08 says:

    @Kylopod: Said evolution presumably following the common path of getting rich, becoming concerned about the then high marginal tax rate, and associating more with rich country club conservatives.

  60. Just 'nutha ig'rant cracker says:

    @Rafer Janders: I think you should be a little easier on Dr. Joyner. He knows that what he is saying is nonsense as much as you do, but he’s trying desperately to find a line of reasoning that will prove to himself that Trump is something brand new and that, since before he was born, the GOP hasn’t been what they appear to be now. It will take a while to process all of the information that he needs to sift through.

  61. An Interested Party says:

    The Democrats became the face of the anti-war movement in the late 1960s and had become seen as the “soft on crime” party earlier than that.

    This totally contradicts this…

    But the Democratic Party did in fact become more ideologically liberal in the late 1950s…

    Make up your mind…

    …the New Deal was not an ideological stance that animated two political generations of Democrats.

    Well, to be fair, I suppose we can’t expect any conservative and/or Republican to say anything nice/positive about the New Deal…

  62. al-Alameda says:

    Two questions on George Will:

    (1) Does anyone else think that George Will looks like he could be Rick Steve’s father?

    (2) As insufferable as Will can be, can you imagine how much more so he will be if the Cubs win the World Series?