News of the GOP’s Demise Was Greatly Exaggerated

Barring an 11th-hour catastrophe or widespread cheating, Republicans are expected to stomp Democrats across the board in Tuesday’s election.

Polls show Republicans with a big edge on issues that matter most: By double digits, voters trust Republicans to handle inflation, the economy in general, and crime. Democrats only hold a slight edge on education, a longtime Democratic advantage that’s been slipping away in the post-lockdown era.

GOP candidates are competitive in races previously considered safe for Democrats, including Senate seats in New Hampshire and Washington. Republicans are not just poised to take control of the House and the Senate but possibly a handful of governorships and state legislatures, which will have a huge impact on how the 2024 presidential election is handled.

Even more alarming news for Democrats is eroding support among reliable constituencies. Latinos, blacks, and suburban white women—voters who often represent the winning margin for Democratic candidates—are moving in the direction of the GOP this year while working class whites, once the crown jewel of the Democratic Party, continue their exodus from the party that now caters to the rich and overly credentialed.

Which raises an important question: What does Bill Kristol say now?

Kristol, a founding father of the modern-day neoconservative movement who sold his soul, reputation, and part of his sanity to left-wing billionaires in his insatiable lust to destroy Donald Trump, warned for years that Trump would destroy the Republican Party. Since 2016, the notoriously-wrong pundit has predicted any number of doomsday scenarios related to Trump, most notably the demise of the GOP.

During the 2016 GOP nominating convention, Kristol lamented that the Republican Party “had fallen into the grip of a vulgar demagogue with a thuggish retinue.” A year later, Kristol declared the GOP wasn’t salvageable, promising to start an independent party as an alternative to a Trump-hijacked Republican Party. Kristol and his NeverTrump cohorts transformed into full-blown Democrats by the 2018 midterm elections. Trump, Kristol claimed in 2018, was a “cancer metastasizing at a rapid rate” within the GOP.

 “I think the party brand is getting much more enmeshed in everything Donald Trump says and stands for; the whole future of the Republican Party is now an open question,” the former aide to Vice President Dan Quayle openly mused that year. (Shortly thereafter, the owner of the Weekly Standard, the influential magazine Kristol launched in 1995, shut down the publication.)

Kristol endorsed Joe Biden in 2020 and pushed for the full-scale annihilation of the Republican Party, including governors who were “killing Americans” by reopening their states’ businesses after the pandemic and “banning masks.”

Faced with the prospect that numerous Trump-backed candidates will win this week and populate the party at every level, Kristol again is whining about the Republican Party being beyond rescue and says voters should instead elect more Democrats. 

“[I]f we don’t have two reasonably healthy parties, the unhealthy party has to be defeated,” he told the Washington Post in September. Kristol thinks Republicans will only narrowly win the House but Democrats will hold the Senate and several governorships. In a desperate and disgraceful move, a Kristol-led outfit produced an ad featuring the mother of Capitol Police Officer Brian Sicknick in an attempt to blame his untimely death of natural causes on Kari Lake, the Republican candidate for Arizona governor.

To be fair, Kristol is right on one point: the Trumpified GOP is not the party in which he once held sway. The MAGA movement replaced Kristol’s neocon legacy, a record of disastrous foreign wars, unmitigated immigration, costly trade agreements, and squishy resistance to what is now known as “woke” politics. Kristol, eager to please his new fan base of Democrats, admitted in 2017 that he had recently discovered his “inner socialist,” “inner feminist,” and “inner liberal,” his only accurate assessment in at least two decades.

Kristol’s NeverTrump allies shared similar predictions about the ultimate demise of the GOP. Rick Wilson, the washed-up, low-level political consultant turned Lincoln Project grifter, raged on Twitter—an activity that consumes most of his day every day—before the 2016 Republican National Convention that Trump was a “poison” responsible for “killing the Party.” In his 2018 book, Everything Trump Touches Dies, Wilson wrote how the Republican Party “lost almost everything and learned almost nothing from Trump.” He blamed former Speaker of the House Paul Ryan for allowing Trump to “destroy the Republican Party.” 

Peddling his follow-up book, Wilson reiterated his still-unrealized prognosis for the GOP. “There’s no Republican Party any more, it’s dead,” Wilson told Trevor Noah in January 2020. “Donald Trump killed it, he’s like a parasite that ate its host from the inside out. It’s over.” 

Ten months later, Trump won more votes than any Republican presidential candidate in history and the GOP flipped 15 House seats.

Of course, Kristol and Wilson are not alone in their hilariously bad—and tediously repetitive—prognostications of doom. Tom Nichols has regurgitated the same obituary in different iterations at the far-left Atlantic for years. “The current GOP is beyond rescue,” Nichols wrote in June while swooning over Representative Liz Cheney (R-Wyo.) right before she lost her primary by nearly 40 points. Which sounded a lot like a 2021 column in which Nichols called the GOP “a political and moral nullity.” Which sounded a lot like a separate 2021 column, when Nichols insisted the Republican Party was “in its end stages.” Which sounded sort of like his December 2020 column warning that the GOP “is not worth saving.”

You get the drift.

Others have similarly imagined the death throes of the Republican Party. “How Trump Kills the G.O.P.,” blared the headline for a 2017 column by NeverTrumper David Brooks. The Washington Post’s resident lunatic, Jennifer Rubin, perhaps realizing that no, Trump did not destroy the party despite her deepest wishes, instead suggested anyone tied to the GOP should be torched.  “We have to collectively, in essence, burn down the Republican Party,” Rubin ranted in 2019. “We have to level them, because if there are survivors, if there are people who weather this storm, they will do it again.” 

Meanwhile, The Bulwark, a marginal NeverTrump blog funded by left-wing billionaires, recently concluded the national GOP would go the way of the California GOP, in other words, out to sea.

After January 6, NeverTrump expressed confidence that the Republican Party would finally abandon Trump for good. Mona Charen, a once respected conservative voice who now has an incurable case of Trump Derangement Syndrome, preened how Trump’s behavior that day “crossed a line for GOP.” Declan Garvey at The Dispatch, the refuge for former Weekly Standard and National Review writers of a NeverTrump bent, asked a few weeks after the protest whether it was “time for the Republican Party to split apart?”

Former Republican officials declared their split with the party over the events of January 6. “The Republican Party as I knew it no longer exists. I’d call it the cult of Trump,” someone named Jimmy Gurulé, a Treasury Department employee in the George W. Bush administration, told Reuters. Trump’s post-January 6 legacy was “fracturing” the party, the Reuters reporter claimed.

The GOP can’t grow with Trump, perpetual crank Jonah Goldberg wrote in August, reflecting on the work of the January 6 select committee. Disgruntled former Republican congressman Joe Walsh claimed Trump was losing support among Republican voters over the committee’s findings. “Republicans privately are praying that this committee and these hearings will do what they haven’t had the courage to do for the last four or five or six years and that’s remove Donald Trump from the public scene,” Walsh said in July.

But Trump is on the public scene more now than ever—and a Republican Party reconfigured under his leadership is energized and playing to win. The NeverTrump duncery undoubtedly will downplay any GOP victory solely as a result of Joe Biden’s economic failures and the Democratic Party’s overreach on cultural issues. Part of that will be true. But even the most groveling NeverTrumper will have to admit the Republican Party is on the upswing and their nonstop portrayals of Trump as the GOP’s Grim Reaper were flat wrong. To the contrary, it is the Democratic Party under Biden at risk of sustained electoral defeat—the exact opposite of what NeverTrump promised. As usual.

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