The Impending GOP Calamity: Why Has It Come to This?
The GOP, which should have been poised to run the table in the 2016 elections, could lose the presidency to Hillary Clinton, watch the Senate revert to Democrat control, and possibly experience serious loses at the state and local levels. Why has it come to this?
According to Redstate.com, a new national Bloomberg poll shows Hillary Clinton beating Donald Trump badly (54% - 36%), and Ted Cruz rather less convincingly (51% - 42%).
Losses this big have far-reaching consequences for sub-presidential races.
In part, we are facing a normal feature of American electoral politics. The big Republican victories of 2010 and 2014 have given the GOP a bulge over Democrats in both houses of Congress as well as at the state and local levels. In the normal course of events, we should expect some diminution of the GOP’s lead over Democrats in Washington, DC, and at the state and local levels, just because they have a great many more seats to defend.
Looking at this year’s 34 Senate seats that are up for grabs, the Republicans hold 24 seats versus the Democrats’ 10. Moreover, some of those GOP seats which are filled by first-termers -- almost always the most vulnerable legislative candidates -- in states won by Barack Obama in 2012 may shift to the Democrats in 2016.
Much of what may happen in November will not be due to the usual dynamics of American politics. To understand what may befall the Republican Party in November, we need to focus on events in Washington, DC which probably have had their greatest impact on the party’s presidential nomination process, but may have ramifications for other races.
Some of the GOP angst that could bring harm to the party can be attributed to Obama. We are told this is the year of the angry voter. That’s probably true. Obama’s efforts to fundamentally transform America since January 20, 2009 have generated a major backlash. Although not always for the same reason(s), a sizable bloc of the public is ready, willing, and probably able to repudiate Obamaism at the next election. (Unhappily, many people don’t comprehend that electing Mrs. Clinton will probably ensure continuation of Obamaism.)
But, there’s another facet of many Americans’ anger at Obamaism and its fellow travelers. It’s because the Republican elite have abjectly failed to thwart the Obamians’ political goals. Time and again, Republican candidates have sought public office claiming that, if elected, they would fight Obamaism. Time and again, once elected those Republicans have caved to virtually every Obama initiative.
If the GOP loses big in 2016, this may be the most important reason.
Genevieve Wood notes that seven GOP senators voted to confirm Obama’s nomination of John B. King -- an advocate of Common Core and other policies which most Republicans oppose -- as Secretary of Education, the GOP congressional leadership’s advocacy of the Obama-Boehner budget deal – which cost the latter his job as Speaker of the House as well as his House seat -- and approval of Obama appointees to lower federal courts, including Wilhelmina Wright -- who once called Ronald Reagan a bigot -- are instances in which the Republican establishment sold out its core constituency.
Is it any wonder that some Republicans hold the GOP leadership in low regard? Should we be surprised that a recent poll of likely Republican primary voters found that 86% agreed that “people like me don’t have any say about what the government does”? Nor should eyebrows be raised when polls show that only a quarter of self-identified Republicans say they are represented by GOP officeholders.
The political vacuum created by the Republican leadership’s failure to oppose Obamaism was quickly filled by a series of candidates calling themselves “outsiders”.
Some of those erstwhile outsiders seeking the GOP’s presidential nomination, such as Carly Fiorina and Ben Carson, have fallen away. But Donald Trump, another contender who claims outsider status, stands a very good chance of seizing the Republican Party’s presidential nomination. The only other candidate with some chance of thwarting Trump’s drive is Ted Cruz, perhaps an even more genuine outsider than Trump.
In addition to focus on outsiders’ success so far in the race for the GOP’s presidential nomination, one also needs to acknowledge how candidates favored (at one time or another) by the Republican establishment -- first Jeb Bush, and then Chris Christie and Marco Rubio -- have fared poorly.
(Before categorizing 2016 as the year of the outsider, let’s acknowledge that Democrat Party elites appear to be succeeding in their goal to nominate the Red Queen as their party’s standard-bearer. In short, we’re dealing with just a Republican phenomenon.)
Why have GOP elites been so reluctant to challenge Obamaism, which, in turn, has played a role in this year’s surge of anger? Wood does not offer a definitive reason.
A number of analysts, including Rush Limbaugh, have argued that Republican leaders are reluctant to oppose Obama is because they don’t want to be accused of racism, which is perhaps the worse crime you can commit in America.
Fear of accusations of racism has, no doubt, played a role in the GOP elite’s disinclination to challenge Obama. In addition, however, there is the fact that, as Angelo Codevilla, author of The Ruling Class (2010), and others, including Limbaugh, noted that most Republican insiders are part of America’s ruling class.
Comprising, at best, no more than a quarter of the population, and more likely, about 15%, America’s ruling class will probably play a significant role in how the race for the GOP’s presidential nomination goes.
Interestingly, beyond estimating their percentage of the population, noting they share a common value system and sociopolitical outlook and include Democrats and, in a decidedly secondary role, Republicans, Codevilla does not provide a specific definition of the ruling class.
Although he calls them “the political class,” Douglas Schoen means essentially the same thing as Codevilla. Schoen defines the political class as “political leaders, business elites, and those in the information and technology vanguard.” For the most part, Codevilla’s and Schoen’s analyses dovetail.
Both authors concur that, as Schoen put it, “[t]he political system we have today… no longer serves the American people…”, and therefore, “[w]e need fundamental, systematic change.”
Sadly, as senator David Perdue (R, GA) observes, while “losing control,” Washington’s “political class,” especially its GOP branch, is fighting to hang on, even if it means losing the 2016 election. Limbaugh claims that the GOP establishment wants to sabotage Trump’s quest for the presidency. Evidently, they believe they can survive a Hillary Clinton presidency.
Republican disaster in this year’s elections is not foreordained. Mrs. Clinton could be indicted, although, as John Wayne said, “That’ll be the day.” More terrorist attacks, like the one in Brussels on March 21, could occur, which would probably elicit fears about U.S. national security, usually a concern that benefits Republicans more than Democrats on Election Day.
Nevertheless, unless something changes, the GOP’s fate does not look good. Blame can (and will be) laid at many doors. We should begin by concentrating on the GOP segment of America’s ruling elite/political class.