After watching the results of the recent special election in Pennsylvania’s 18th Congressional District, I came to a sobering conclusion: the Republican Party, as an institution, needs to die. I’ve listened to all of the spin: Conor Lamb ran as a Trump-friendly Democrat. The Democrats had a registration advantage. Rep. Tim Murphy had disgraced Republicans. This is all true. But a district that went Republicans by a margin of 20 points in the last two presidential elections doesn’t flip unless something drastic has changed.
Fact is, the Republicans put up a weak candidate with a deeply flawed campaign strategy. After having been given an historic opportunity to return America to its heritage with the election of Donald Trump, the GOP is (unsurprisingly) blowing it. Maybe they never really wanted it.
The problem is that many in the GOP are still rankled over Donald Trump’s election. To them, Trump is an interloper who is threatening to make winners of a GOP that wants very badly to lose. Yes, lose. Over the years, the party establishment constructed for itself a lovely little fiefdom in Washington, D.C. There, a tight-knit circle of interlocking institutions—congressional Republicans, think tanks, and well-connected lobbying firms—all further the interests of an entrenched business and donor community while supporting and empowering a handful of elected shills.
So long as these special interests are protected, the Republican Party will care little about furthering an agenda that actually protects America or Americans in the broad sense. Instead, the GOPe will gladly vote to lower taxes and continue supporting war fever under Trump, but they will not countenance tariffs or compromises on gun legislation . . . or even repealing Obamacare!
Who and What Trump Represents
Whatever your opinions may be of Trump’s personal habits or style, if left to his own devices on the issues—and with the open support of Republicans—this president potentially could build a lasting and winning political coalition.
And, of course, the GOP cannot have that! After all, Trump (like his voters) is deplorable. And, even worse, it turns out that he actually meant all the things he promised those icky hick-town voters! He didn’t get the memo that you are just supposed to promise them things and then turn your back on them once elected.
In spite of his being deplorable in the eyes of the Davoise, 63 million Americans voted for a real change agent in 2016. Donald Trump is a man who slaughtered every Republican and Democratic Party sacred cow. Trump wanted to lower taxes but increase tariffs to protect workers (whether or not this will work is a separate question). He favored paid-family leave, but he was ardently pro-life. Putting aside questions about his temperament and habits, it is clear that the president is far more representative of the current electorate’s views on the issues than any other mainstream politician of any party.
Yet all of Trump’s governing successes have failed to translate beyond his own political prosperity. In almost every special election since Trump became president, the GOP sought to distance itself from him and his record.
Even in Alabama, where the mainstream media continues to spin the narrative that Trump was the cause of the GOP loss, the Republican National Committee couldn’t get its act together. Alabama should have selected the great Mo Brooks as the Republican nominee to replace Jeff Sessions in the U.S. Senate. But Mitch McConnell insisted on putting up the milquetoast Luther Strange as the party’s preferred nominee. Trump and the Republican establishment supported Strange far longer than they should have. Then the GOP abandoned the nominee, Roy Moore, in the general election the month before election day—depriving Moore of critical funds and support at a crucial moment in the campaign.
The Dismal Alternative
If not for Donald Trump, the country would have been faced with the painful choice of voting for either Jeb Bush or his female clone, Hillary Clinton, in 2016. Whatever stupid things Hillary may have said about coal miners in West Virginia, the fact would have remained that she did not have the tarnished Bush name behind her. Given her performance in the popular vote, the tarnish on the Clinton name isn’t nearly as thick in the eyes of a majority of voters as we might like to think.
And let’s face it: Americans detest the Republican brand. That shouldn’t come as a surprise, given the institutional biases arrayed against the Republican Party in the media, academia, pop culture, and government. After years of being called “racists” (or whatever smear the Left is currently favoring), the GOP seemed eventually to embrace this image of heartlessness, becoming a caricature of a Democrat’s talking point. This became all the more prevalent in the last two decades when Republicans began championing policies that have quantitatively harmed the American middle-class and sent our young people to fight and die in senseless wars abroad (some of which we remain mired today).
It isn’t just that the Republicans kept offering the wrong candidates or that some party leaders apparently believe that Gordon Gekko was the real hero of Wall Street. It’s that the Republican Party has never pushed back against the Left as hard as they have against their own party leader, Donald Trump.
What a New Party Should Be
The Republicans have been content to let demographics shift away from them for so long, that had it not been for the unorthodox Donald Trump, they would never have been able to form a winning political coalition again. Of course, that would have been fine with McConnell and the other Beltway Boys. They’d have kept their fiefdom in Washington. Should Republican leaders abandon Trump (as they are), and should Trump either be impeached (which, at this point, I suspect he will be since the GOP in Congress appears determined not to stand up for him) or lose reelection in 2020, the Republican Party will consign itself to oblivion.
Given the institutional inertia in the GOP—and the party establishment’s absolute disdain for their own voters—maybe it’s time to abandon it and leave it to its fate. That way, maybe, we can get a new party that is a party of the American Right, as opposed to a sop for Big Business.
No matter how much lipstick we keep slapping on the GOP pig, it gets fatter and more useless. Let it go. In fact, the base of the party should happily embrace this plan. The new right-wing party that emerges from the ashes of the GOP—call it the Liberal Party, since Democrats have wrongfully co-opted that word and we must take it back—will place nationalist-populism at its core and make its rallying cry, “America First, Always!” This new Liberal Party of right-wing patriots would also demand that its leaders always push back against the lies of the Left.
That would be a party I (and, I suspect, most Americans) could get behind.