Party Change is Hard: On Rules, Incentives, and Identity (and the #NeverTrump Question)

A convergence of OTB discussions.

There are three conversations at OTB of late that need to be brought together so that we (the reader here, but Americans writ large as well) need to come to terms with how they interact.

The first is James Joyner’s post (and the subsequent, lengthy comment thread that I mostly drove), Should NeverTrumpers Become Democrats? It raises the question of the real options that face those who have traditionally voted Republican, but who oppose Trump and hie effects on the GOP.

The second is another post from James on Justim Amash’s declaration of independence from the Republican party, as his “a pox on both parties” critique of American politics: Justin Amash Leaves GOP with BothSides Op-ed.

A third is a post of mind from March, On “Independent” Voters (and a follow-up, On “Independents” Again). Those posts dealt a Pew Research Center study about the voting behavior of self-identified independents.

These posts have a theme in common: the intersection between the practical politics of the rules and incentives our of electoral and governing system and the issue of partisan identity.

They also have another theme in common: the disjuncture between what we might like to be true about possible political outcomes and the cold hard truth of the probable outcomes.

Now, let me lay down a huge caveat, which should not be a surprise to anyone who reads this site regularly: I am fully in favor of an electoral system that would unleash the ability of libertarians like Justin Amash, self-declared independents, and various other ideological groups. I very much support electoral reform that would actually result in a representative set of parties to reflect American political preferences. I would further like to see a host of institutional reforms to make the US government more representative in general.

But to paraphrase Donald Rumsfeld: you go to the ballot box with the electoral and party system you have, not the one you wish you had.

So, here’s the hard truth:

Rules. The rules of election, specifically the use of single seat districts with plurality winners, coupled with the usage of primaries to nominate candidates, creates a dynamic in which the only viable winners are Republicans and Democrats (especially as it pertains to the presidency and control of congress).

It would takes thousands of words to explain why this is the case (and I have written about this topic before, and there is a planned post in my series on Democracy and Institutional Design to specifically deal with that subject, but alas, it does not exist yet). But the proof is before your eyes in terms of the clear rigidity of our two party system. There is zero doubt that a politician’s chances of winning office are far higher as a Democrat or a Republican than it is the case for them to win via any other route.

Yes, the two party duopoly has been ruptured before: way back in the mid-19th Century when the Republican Party became the second party to the Democrats, replacing the Whigs. So, the logic goes, it could happen again!

Incentives. Well, sure, it could. But I would vigorously argue that a) it is unlikely and b) there are no signs is it going to happen soon. Moreover, as I have argued before, primaries means that there is no incentive to try and create a viable third party to challenge the duopoly. It is far easier to just win a primary and then have all the advantages of the established party.

Think libertarians Ron and Rand Paul. Did they go to Congress as Libertarians? No. They won GOP primaries and served as Republicans. Think self-identified democratic socialist, AOC. Did she win office as a Democratic Socialist? No. She won the Democratic primary and serves as a Democrat.

Think, too, the Tea Party, which was never a party, but instead a faction of the GOP.

And look, can you find examples of third party winners? Sure. The best example is Bernie Sanders, an independent in the Senate. But even Bernie makes my point: he has twice now sought the Democratic nomination for president. He understands that if he ran as an independent for president, he would have zero shot, but running as Democrat means a real chance at office (and that would be running with the exact same platform. This just shows, yet again, that the electoral rules matter!!).

But, first, Bernie is almost singular in his national-level success winning as an independent for Congress (there are a handful of others–but note the word “handful”). The most prominent example of a third party presidential candidate in recent memory was Ross Perot (who lost badly) and the most prominent example of a national figure who won office as a third party candidate was Jesse Ventura winning the Minnesota governor’s race in 1999.

So, as long as the levers of power are in the hands of the two part duopoly, that is where change has to take place. The only way to even attempt to calibrate the parties is via primaries.

Yes, having only two viable parties stinks from a democratic and representative point of view. But reality is reality.

Identity. Of course, the problem is, people’s identities get wrapped up in their partisan preferences. This is quite normal and understandable. A major purpose of a party, and clear label to identify that party, is so that like-minded people can work together to create desired political outcomes. The “R” or “D” by the name on the ballot is supposed to give you usable information to help you make a choice.

But, identity is a strong force. It can lead people who espouse family values and who cite Christian morality as their bedrock to support a twice divorced candidate who had affairs with a porn star a a Playboy model (among others). This is both a snarky, but also very real, illustration of the power of partisan identity. Plus, people rank-order preferences. Granny may abhor Donald’s porn-star-cavorting, but she sure does like those possibly anti-Roe Supreme Court appointees.

Politics is always inherently about compromise and determining which preferences are at the top of your personal hierarchy.

And this is where we can explicitly bring in the posts I linked at the start. First, one party has the lion’s share of the blame at the moment: the Republicans nominated and elected Trump, and the Republicans in congress are enabling Trump (so Amash’s bothsiderism is off the mark).

Second, part of what gave Trump the White House in the first place was the fact that once he was nominated, partisan identity took over for a lot of people. Not everyone who voted for Trump voted affirmatively for Trump. A lot of them voted for the Republican. This may seem like no difference, but in terms of human behavior, it is a true observation. Likewise, a lot of people who did not identify as Democratic. but who were #NeverTrump could not bring themselves to vote for HRC. Identity matters and it motivates behavior.

Let’s face facts, it is hard for people to give up their identities and vote in a way that that they feel is betrayal of that identity. This manifests as life-long Republicans having to come to terms with the GOP not being what they want it to be, as well as Libertarians and other third party voters trying to decide what their best options are given the presences of Trump on the ballot.

So, Justin Amash decided he is going to quite the GOP, but he can’t quite bring himself to just criticize the GOP. Instead, he engages in some serious bothsiderism.

Now, does the Democratic Party deserve criticism? Of course it does. All parties do. But, at this present moment, and this is key, there is not going to be a third party movement that will deal with Trump nor with the Trumpian behavior of the GOP. The only operative route of serious opposition in the Democratic Party. The only way to guarantee the removal of Trump starting in 2021 is for the Democratic nominee to win. This is incontrovertibly true unless one is engaged in highly wishful thinking.

And this also gets to identity. To semi pick on James Joyner (whom I have known well enough and long enough to know he can take it, and moreover, know he will largely agree with what I am about to say:

As I wrote recently, while I’m functionally a Democrat these days, having voted for Democrats in general elections in 2016, 2017, 2018, and 2019 and almost certain to vote for the party’s candidate in 2020 to defeat Donald Trump, I don’t consider myself a member of the party. While I’ve certainly moved left on some issues over the years, I’m still much more temperamentally conservative than the Democratic leadership. I’m enthusiastic about restoring sanity and a respect for process and the rule of law to the White House, but not necessarily large parts of the Democratic platform.

Source: Justin Amash Leaves GOP with BothSides Op-ed

The part I want to pick on, and it is relevant to both James’ post about NeverTrumpers and the Democratic Party as well as my posts on independents (all linked above) is that the “membership” framing is, in my opinion, all wrong.

Look, the closest we come in the United States to “joining” a political party in any formal way is that in closed primary states you have to register a partisan preference. These exist in a minority of states (Ballotopedia identifies only 14 states with closed primaries for congressional and state-level offices). Most states have open primaries, or semi-closed ones wherein non-affiliated voters can treat the primaries as open. It should be noted, too, that several states with closed primaries have same-day registration, meaning that voters can register to vote on election, which obviates partisan registration since you can change at will.

And sure: you can give money to the RNC or DNC and they might send you a “membership card”–at least their junk mail used to include such, but all that is a token linked to contribution.

As I have repeatedly argued (see the two posts on independent voters), all that really matters in terms of “partisan ID” or “party membership” in a given election is how you cast your ballot.

When we added up all the votes for HRC in 2016 we did not have a tally for “real Democrats” and “temporary Democrats” and “#NeverTrumpers who voted for HRC” or anything like that. We just had a list of votes for the Democrat, which we then called, in complex analytical terms, “Democratic votes.”

It doesn’t matter what is in your heart when you vote. It matter what is on the ballot.

To me, in terms of electoral analysis. the relevant metric is always how votes were cast in the election. Analytically it does not matter, in terms of electoral outcome, how votes view themselves or the motives for their votes. This is whole point I keep making in post after post about the number of “independents” in the US. We know, from actual voting, that most self-identified independents are actually reliable Ds or Rs in the voting both (but it is invariably the case that those posts get very passionate comments from self-identified independents who want to argue about identity rather than measured behavior).

Indeed, Amash goes that route in his op/ed:

Most Americans are not rigidly partisan and do not feel well represented by either of the two major parties. In fact, the parties have become more partisan in part because they are catering to fewer people, as Americans are rejecting party affiliation in record numbers.

These same independent-minded Americans, however, tend to be less politically engaged than Red Team and Blue Team activists. Many avoid politics to focus on their own lives, while others don’t want to get into the muck with the radical partisans.

Source: WaPo, “Justin Amash: Our politics is in a partisan death spiral. That’s why I’m leaving the GOP.

This is an argument about identity, not behavior. Yes, a lot of Americans identify as “independent” but they, in mass, vote reliably D and R.

And this outcome is not going to change until the structure of the system changes.

So, the argument at the moment is not “should you join the Democratic Party?”–the question is, whether one is Justin Amash, Jame Joyner, Steven Taylor, Doug Mataconis, or some random person reading this post (God bless you for sticking in this long), the question is: what is the most efficacious way to cast one’s ballot to generate the desired outcome of your various rank-ordered preferences?

Put another way: given the structure of the game, how can one score?

No choice, by the way, will perfectly match a given voter’s preferences. The only way to a leader who perfectly fits your personal bill of preferences is for you to become Absolute Dictator (and those jobs are really hard to get).

And look: I understand that personal identity can trump strategic voting. But it still strikes me as worthwhile to think this all through, especially to keep in mind the reality of the possible outcomes, and those outcomes are Rs and Ds.

And I agree with James’ conclusion of his Amash post:

But here’s the thing: pretending that the Democrats and Republicans are indistinguishably bad at the moment is dangerous. Amash himself has come out in support of impeaching President Trump. Our erstwhile party is backing him to the hilt, not only making removing him from office impossible but actively working to ensure he remains in office through January 20, 2024 [sic, actually, gulp, 2025].

Yes, our polarized system is bad for America. Yes, we should seek more moderate alternatives and restore a spirit of seeing those who disagree with us politically as fellow citizens and not enemies. But, no, the blame isn’t evenly spread. One of the parties is geometrically worse right now and it must be defeated at the ballot box.

We have got to understand that the rules and incentives of our system do not provide a third party salvation. And, therefore, we have to recognize that our most pressing problems are being generated far more by one major party, not both.* This, then provided only one pathway for electoral influence over what come next.

BTW: under more normal circumstances I have a different view of third party voting. Signalling has its place. And third party defections can influence the mainline parties, if those defections are large enough. But that is for another set of circumstances.


*And yes, I recognize that not everyone agrees with this sentiment. This post is aimed, therefore, mostly at those who agree that Trump is the most pressing political problem we have at the moment.

As I noted in the comment thread of the post on NeverTrumpers and the Democratic Party:

-Trump is damaging our democracy,

-Trump is doing potentially long-term damage to our economy. (See: tariffs, e.g., )

-Trump is doing potentially long-term damage to the global order (economically and politically).

-Trump has made open racism more acceptable in the United States.

-Trump’s policies on the border have directly created a massive humanitarian crisis.

FILED UNDER: US Politics
Steven L. Taylor
About Steven L. Taylor
Steven L. Taylor is Professor of Political Science and Dean of the College of Arts and Sciences at Troy University. His main areas of expertise include parties, elections, and the institutional design of democracies. His most recent book is the co-authored A Different Democracy: American Government in a 31-Country Perspective. He earned his Ph.D. from the University of Texas and his BA from the University of California, Irvine. He has been blogging since 2003 (originally at the now defunct Poliblog). Follow Steven on Twitter

Comments

  1. michael reynolds says:

    Voters need to do what we keep demanding politicians do: vote in the best interests of the country. This is not about loyalty to a party, our loyalty should be to the United States. In demonstrating that loyalty we need to do what is most effective, not what makes us feel good, but what is most effective at protecting the United States. Right now that means supporting the Democrats at every level, from town council to state legislature to Congress to the presidency, because one party is a clear and present danger and they must be stopped – destroyed and replaced, if possible.

    I get the history of 3rd parties, the Whigs didn’t die till they ran headlong into slavery. I would argue that we face an almost equally severe threat to the USA. The GOP should be and must be annihilated so that a genuinely conservative, or hell genuine anything but fascist, party can replace it. We can keep the two party system by destroying one party and allowing room for its replacement to grow.

  2. @michael reynolds: I do not see the GOP going anywhere. It may yet be reformed, but I do not see a party displacement as long as we use primaries to nominate candidates. There is just no incentive to form a third party.

    So, the parties may shift, but I see no replacement in the foreseeable future.

    (I also fear that we currently have a large group of voters who cleave to white nationalism).

  3. Scott F. says:

    Great post, Steven. I’ve been onboard with your position, as I’ve stated in other threads, so I have nothing to add as you’ve so completely argued your point here about what needs to be done now in America.

    But, (and maybe this is for another post) I am curious about whether you think anything can be done now in furtherance of the electoral system you call for with:

    I very much support electoral reform that would actually result in a representative set of parties to reflect American political preferences. I would further like to see a host of institutional reforms to make the US government more representative in general.

    It’s one thing to stave off Trumpian dystopia, but it would be nice to also further democracy while we are at it.

  4. michael reynolds says:

    @Steven L. Taylor:
    Anything can be destroyed, certainly a political party can be. Two parties does not necessarily mean these two parties. There are states (like mine) where one of the two parties is already effectively wrecked. That means that here in California the two ‘parties’ are Democrats and More Democrats. Right now there are districts in this state that would happily vote for a moderate Republican if such creatures still existed.

    A replacement for the GOP can happen at the state level, in legislatures. If a new party started winning state leg seats in California or Kansas they could start to gain enough power acting as a lever to push for a less partisan nominating process. We need a new conservatism, one divorced from racism, nativism and misogyny, and we need a party that embodies those ideals. That new party needs IMO to start at the legislatures where partisanship is often less important than practical issues.

  5. @michael reynolds: Sure, anything can be destroyed. I am talking probabilities and entrenched pathways as opposed to possibilities.

    There are states (like mine) where one of the two parties is already effectively wrecked.

    Being non-competitive is not the same as being wrecked (and look, the Alabama Democratic Party is more wrecked that the CA GOP, Doug Jones notwithstanding).

    Wrecked, by this definition, does not mean poised for replacement (as much as I might like that to be the case).

    A replacement for the GOP can happen at the state level, in legislatures. If a new party started winning state leg seats in California or Kansas they could start to gain enough power acting as a lever to push for a less partisan nominating process.

    Again, sure, this is possible. I don’t think it probable. Structures matter and they channel choices.

    We need a new conservatism, one divorced from racism, nativism and misogyny, and we need a party that embodies those ideals.

    We whole-heartedly agree on this. I just a) don’t see a public groundswell for such, and b) don’t see the structural pathway that would channel it to a new party if it existed. If there was a New Conservativism along the lines you are describing, their best bet would be to win GOP primaries, not form a new party.

  6. Teve says:

    @michael reynolds:

    . We need a new conservatism, one divorced from racism, nativism and misogyny, and we need a party that embodies those ideals.

    as an intellectual exercise I’ve been trying to think of how you could possibly reform the Republican party to make it respectable again. but after 50 years of the southern strategy their base is a substantial group of ignorant jerks no one else wants to align with, and yet are too big for the Republicans to abandon.

    They’re jammed up and I don’t see them becoming unjammed anytime soon.

  7. Sleeping Dog says:

    Frankly, I don’t see the Repugs going anywhere, except for long walk in the political wilderness. But I’m not sure about that, as the Repugs could control the Senate for a long time while losing the House and Presidency by large margins. And if Repugs, don’t walk in the wilderness, it will be in part due to a Dem Party that does not have a message that appeals to rural and small city voters.

  8. @Scott F.: I started to reply here, but it turned into a post.

  9. The abyss that is the soul of cracker says:

    We need a new conservatism, one divorced from racism, nativism and misogyny, and we need a party that embodies those ideals.

    Alas, people at large lean more racist, nativist, and misogynist than the other way, Americans probably more than others, Conservative Americans more than Americans at large. But good luck with that “new conservatism” thing; sounds like something worthwhile to have.

  10. @Sleeping Dog: They will continue to have a toehold in the Senate–keeping in mind that even as a minority party, they can block legislation.

    But the structural advantages for House, Senate, and EC elections all suggest that the Reps are going nowhere soon.

  11. James Joyner says:

    @Steven

    To semi pick on James Joyner (whom I have known well enough and long enough to know he can take it, and moreover, know he will largely agree with what I am about to say:

    Yes. For institutional reasons you describe, voting Democratic—and especially choosing to participate in the Democratic primaries—is effectively the same in our system as becoming a Democrat. The distinction I draw is indeed mostly about identity but also about buy-in. There was a time when I enthusiastically supported the GOP. Absent the Republicans becoming a true rump party and the Democrats becoming something like a 75% party, it’s unlikely that the Democrats will move ideologically close enough to me for me to be enthusiastic about the candidates or platform. If the GOP remains Trumpist, that doesn’t matter. But I’m likely to become a swing voter rather than a committed one in a future where the GOP moves to appeal to younger voters and Democrats continue to slide in the direction of AOC.

  12. @James Joyner: Indeed (although I will wager that legislatively, the party will be unlikely to move to AOC land-although it may adopt rhetoric that is AOCesque).

    I just think that the whole language of “joining” or “membership”drives the conversation in the wrong direction.

  13. Gustopher says:

    @James Joyner:

    But I’m likely to become a swing voter rather than a committed one in a future where the GOP moves to appeal to younger voters and Democrats continue to slide in the direction of AOC.

    James, your days of being a younger voter are behind you, even in the GOP.

    (Fine, fine, Bob Dylan was right when he said “and I was so much older then, I’m younger than that now”)

  14. Kathy says:

    @michael reynolds:

    A replacement for the GOP can happen at the state level, in legislatures. If a new party started winning state leg seats in California or Kansas they could start to gain enough power acting as a lever to push for a less partisan nominating process.

    Did you ever hear of the Free State Project? the idea was for thousands of Libertarians to move to New Hampshire, in order to exert their influence in a small, low-population state. some did. Some were even elected to the state legislature, running on GOP or Democratic tickets.

    We need a new conservatism, one divorced from racism, nativism and misogyny

    But what’s left?

  15. Scott F. says:

    @James Joyner:
    @Steven L. Taylor:

    I’m at a loss for why AOC has become shorthand for a bridge too far in leftist radicalism.

    Ocasio-Cortez’s signature proposal is the Green New Deal which doesn’t contain any specific policy proposals but rather calls for a bold, large scale response to climate change.

    Is Bill Nye too far left as well?

  16. michael reynolds says:

    @Kathy:
    If I were designing a conservative party I’d start by championing free speech which is more threatened from the Left than the Right at the moment. I’d try to put the brakes on massive spending projects like M4A, free college for all and some other ambitious programs. I’d embrace science as a conservative cause and use devotion to real science to take crowd-pleasing shots at the new coastal religions of veganism and cleansing and anti-vaxism and all the rest of the needy, superstitious bullshit. I would support enforcement of antitrust laws and start looking to break up Amazon and Apple. I would support a strong defense – emphasis on defense – and push for Congress to take back war powers. I wouldn’t let the Left insist that only less of everything can solve climate change, I’d push for engineering solutions as well.

    The Left is well into overreach but the only people pushing back are wannabe brown shirts, giving the Left a pass on issues where it could be challenged. We need the green eyeshade party back, we need cranky old man Potter to snarl at George Bailey and demand to know who’s going to pay for all these nice things we want. I often disagree with Dave Schuler, but he’s roughly my idea of what an actual conservative might be.

    Times have changed, Overton windows have shifted, a rational conservatism today might be about where Bill Clinton was in his day. Trump isn’t a conservative, he’s just a kleptocrat, devoid of ideology. His followers are largely racist, nativist and misogynist – they can hold onto the rump oof the GOP till it disappears. We should take the conversation away from them and let them stew in their cesspools until old age cleans most of them out.

  17. Sleeping Dog says:

    @Kathy:

    The Free State Project ended up as mostly a joke, but it did have a perverse turn on Republicans. The 2010 election had the Repugs with veto proof majorities in the state House and Senate. For the 2011 session the leadership chose to focus on budget and economic issues (a major party plank) and held off on social issues till the 2012 session where marriage equality repeal was the trophy. The repeal effort was crushed when the libertarians who had been elected as Repugs voted with the Dems against repeal.

  18. Teve says:

    @michael reynolds: Non-starters.

    I’d embrace science as a conservative cause

    Can’t support science. Astrophysics means the big bang and biology and genetics means evolution and you lose the bible-thumpers. Accepting the science around coal ash and antibiotic resistance at industrial farms and you lose that money. Accept that global warming is a problem and Exxon now hates you. And as far as engineering our way out of the problem, scaling up already-proven technologies to industrial-scale takes decades, and we don’t even have any technologies that can deal with the carbon we’re putting out.

    crowd-pleasing shots at the new coastal religions of veganism

    fewer than 5% of Americans are even vegetarian, about 1% are vegan, although some estimates put vegans at a maximum of maybe 3%.

    and cleansing and anti-vaxism and all the rest of the needy, superstitious bullshit.

    when people think anti-vax they think Jenny McCarthy and Gwyneth Paltrow, but there are just as many rural talk radio types who are anti-vax as coastal liberals. Lots of religious radio shows paint vaccines as big federal gummint control. You know those miseducated rural types who were scared of the New world order and Bill Clinton taking over the United Nations? Well they’re also scared that big pharma is injecting them with toxins to make them sick and dependent on medicine.

    I would support enforcement of antitrust laws and start looking to break up Amazon and Apple

    There go all your corporate donations, cause mergers and increased market power means less competition and more profit. And you can’t easily break up those two. How could you separate Amazon from Prime? You’d want to break up Google from YouTube, and Facebook from Instagram and WhatsApp. And split Walmart into 6 regional companies quick because this imaginary version of the GOP would be dead within months.

    We need the green eyeshade party back,

    Republican donors got that 1.5 trillion dollar tax cut because they said if they didn’t get it don’t bother calling back. So now they’re gone. And the GOP is finito.

    ETA I’m not kidding when I say I’ve spent a while trying to figure out how the GOP could revive itself, and I can’t do it. They’re jammed up.

    ETA 2 You could separate Amazon the retailer from AWS. But that would *not* be easy because AWS is tied into every aspect of the retail operations.

  19. Jay L Gischer says:

    Words are funny. The Republican Party of my youth is pretty much “destroyed” in the sense that I recognize nothing of the Party of Eisenhower whatsoever. But it’s still called the “Republican Party”. I liked those Republicans. I voted for Gerald Ford. I ended up liking Carter, too, because he was a geek, I mean technocrat, like I am.

    Richard Nixon implemented a bunch of policies that we would now associate with very left-wing ideals. He started the EPA, for instance.

    So, I think the “Republican Party” as a name is very unlikely to be destroyed, but it is likely to shift radically in what it’s favored policies and ideology is.

  20. Kit says:

    This post is aimed, therefore, mostly at those who agree that Trump is the most pressing political problem we have at the moment.

    Great post, Steven, but I think you miss the mark somewhat by focusing so much on Trump. Yes, his election allowed a rash of dreadful policies to be enacted, and yes removing him would allow the country to slam the brakes on much of that. But the rot runs deeper, much deeper, and requires urgent action on several fronts. The government can only effectually act when a single party controls all the levers, and arrives with a plan on how to pull them.

    As many others have noted, the country’s saving grace had been the fact that Trump knows so little of wielding power effectively. Four years of a feel-good Democratic president will count for less than nothing if it merely sets the stage for another red wave, this time led by someone capable. People need to understand the urgency. Democrats need to be voted in, voted in with a majority, and get to work immediately. I’m starting to come around to the idea that only Warren fits the bill.

  21. James Joyner says:

    @michael reynolds: I could definitely get on board the Dave Schuler for President train.

  22. Ebenezer_Arvigenius says:

    I could definitely get on board the Dave Schuler for President train.

    I would probably strongly oppose it. But, and that’s the entire point of having a democratic system in the first place, I could live with losing and just wait for the next election.

    The main problem currently is that the ruling party uses any and all available tricks to lock in their agenda beyond both voter pushback (ex.: gerrymandering) and even elective losses (ex.: lifetime court seats). This undermines the foundations of the “peaceful transfer of power” concept.

  23. Teve says:

    @Kit:

    Four years of a feel-good Democratic president will count for less than nothing if it merely sets the stage for another red wave, this time led by someone capable. People need to understand the urgency. Democrats need to be voted in, voted in with a majority, and get to work immediately. I’m starting to come around to the idea that only Warren fits the bill.

    Dems desperately need to win the Senate.

  24. Kathy says:

    @michael reynolds:
    @Teve:

    I tend to side with Teve on this, though obviously a party redesign would involve changing a lot of the underlying ideology.

    Times have changed, Overton windows have shifted, a rational conservatism today might be about where Bill Clinton was in his day.

    I think someone governing today like St. Ronnie did, would be branded a RINO by the GOP.
    First order of business would be to expel the evangelicals and keep them out. they seem to have outsize influence over the GOP, but many of their core ideas are rapidly becoming obsolete.

  25. @Scott F.:

    I’m at a loss for why AOC has become shorthand for a bridge too far in leftist radicalism.

    I think the simple answer is that she identifies as Democratic Socialist. See does legitimately represent the more progressive wing of the party.

    I will admit that she has been unfairly demonized on FNC and on the right, which is unfair.

  26. @Kit:

    but I think you miss the mark somewhat by focusing so much on Trump.

    That is fair. The Trump focus is a result of the immediate discussions about 2020 and whether NeverTrumpers should vote D or third party.

  27. @Jay L Gischer: The primaries mean that change can come to a party without the party going away. There is no need, nor any incentive, for a new party to emerge to challenge the status quo.

  28. The abyss that is the soul of cracker says:

    @Jay L Gischer:

    So, I think the “Republican Party” as a name is very unlikely to be destroyed, but it is likely to shift radically in what it’s favored policies and ideology is.

    Alas, there are still 2 directions (at least) for those policies and ideology to shift. The near-term future of those shifts in not positive. Who will lead a triangulation effort in a “Republican Leadership Council?”