The Other Dimension to the Midterm Elections

There are many reasons why Republicans might be favored in the midterm elections, not the least of which is their party’s policy successes—particularly with the economy—since Donald Trump’s election. But there’s another, rather less obvious reason, why many in the party would like to see the GOP do well: the ongoing housekeeping within the Grand Old Party itself.

Some might believe that the likelier, if less obvious reason, Republicans would celebrate a good showing is the demoralization of Democrats generally. But in GOP circles, the emerging consensus is that the Democrats, and the “progressives” who control the party, are on a slippery slope to oblivion no matter what happens next week. What else would one expect to be the future of a group that embraces the worst kind of identity politics and now openly disdains the U.S. Constitution? To paraphrase Malcolm Muggeridge, theirs are the antics of an exhausted stock.

But as further evidence that the human race is not yet won, certain groups of Republicans and their allies may be forcefully shown the error of their ways if the GOP does well on Tuesday. There are two groups in particular: the neoconservatives, and the GOP’s class of long-serving elected officials, campaign advisors, and lobbyists.

If there is one group of ideologues whose political stock has utterly collapsed it is that of the neocons, people like David Frum, Max Boot, Bret Stephens, and (worst of the lot) Bill Kristol. From their disastrous policy of “nation building” to their feckless opposition to Trump before and after his election, this coterie of self-promoters have witnessed the ruination of their defining foreign policy and their estrangement from the Republican Party.

But it’s not over just yet. They still enjoy the apparent support of bankrollers like Philip Anschutz and Paul Singer and publications such as the Weekly Standard and Commentary.

A strong Republican showing in the House and Senate races might have the effect of sending these people permanently into the welcoming arms of CNN and MSNBC, or—Lord willing—out of politics entirely.

But permanently exiling the neocons is only part of the potential good effect seen by Republicans of GOP success in the midterms. The other benefit they discern would be its wakeup call to congressional Republicans in Name Only, and the exposure of the army of GOP lobbyists, and campaign “experts” like Steve Schmidt, who service them.

Whatever happens in the elections, the Republican caucus in the Senate arguably will be stronger without John McCain, Jeff Flake (R-Ariz.), and Bob Corker (R-Tenn.) in its ranks, but that still leaves senators such as Ben Sasse (R-Neb.) and Lisa Murkowski (R-Alaska), not to mention the hovering presence of characters like Governor John Kasich of Ohio and the entire Bush family, whose idea of proper Republicanism has been to speak gibberish to power and retreat from sound policies whenever it’s deemed politically expedient, as in Bush the elder’s “Read my lips.”

Lots of questions will be answered in Tuesday’s election, not just about the partisan composition of the 116th Congress but about the quality and character of the GOP as well.

Photo Credit: Brendan Smialowski/AFP/Getty Images

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