Final Countdown for the GOP?
As the election is only days away, one could say this is “The Final Countdown” not only for the country, but for the Republican Party. A popular 1980s song by the same name, now featured in a Geico commercial, warned, “We're leaving together, but still it's farewell. And maybe we'll come back, to earth, who can tell?” Indeed, prophetic lyrics, especially for the Republican Party, enjoying its last gasp of relevancy.
But who is leaving whom? And are they leaving together? Paul Ryan and his merry band of #NeverTrumpers hope the Republican Party is leaving all of the “deplorables” behind. Those racist, knuckle-dragging Trump supporters, Tea Partiers, and constitutionalists who actually believe in fiscal responsibility, rule of law, a secure border, restrained foreign policy, and pride in America.
Or is it the opposite? Tens of millions of Trump supporters fed up enough with the Republican establishment to leave the Grand Old Party. Not to become Democrats. Maybe libertarians but more likely independent or unaffiliated voters, now the largest party affiliation according to Pew Research Center. And increasing.
Are many of those Republicans who chose Trump as the party nominee from a field of 17 talented and accomplished candidates leaving the party? Or has the party left them? The GOP elites and #NeverTrumpers blame Donald Trump for the demise of the Republican Party. I contend Trump is the outward sign of the Republican rot, not the cause. The Republican Party was afflicted with a terminal illness long ago, when Ronald Reagan was leaving the White House, with the Republican Party elders and elites insisting on a Do Not Resuscitate order for the dying party.
After eight years of a successful Reagan presidency, it was time for the GOP to cut ties to the conservative movement. We heard George H.W. Bush calling for “a kinder and gentler nation.” Then his son George W. Bush pushing “compassionate conservatism.” All repudiations of Reagan.
Flash forward a decade to the Obama administration. First the GOP needed Congress to stop the Obama agenda. Republicans were given the House in 2010 in a landslide election only to tell voters that they needed the Senate too in order to stop Obama. Message heard. Another landslide in 2014 and the Republicans controlled both houses of Congress. What changed? Was Obamacare defunded? Or Planned Parenthood? How about securing the border? Defunding sanctuary cities? Fiscally responsible budgets? Import export bank? Iran nuke deal? No. Instead Paul Ryan “gave away the store” according to Nancy Pelosi.
Republican voters said, “Fool me once, shame on you. Fool me twice, shame on me.” Which is why so many flocked to an anti-establishment populist candidate such as Donald Trump. Rather than repeating a losing formula by nominating another donor class endorsed candidate such as Jeb Bush, Marco Rubio, or John Kasich.
Who is to blame? Not Donald Trump, who is simply the protest vessel of a fed-up electorate, but instead the Republican Party elites and donors. Those who choose to govern against the will of their constituents. And when the constituents complain, rather than looking in the mirror, they demean and castigate their voters. The same voters who view Donald Trump as the last hope of saving America from turning into a second-world country, another European socialist haven of political correctness, unbridled immigration, and economic lassitude.
Now the Republican leadership is fighting their party nominee, threatening to either not vote at all, or vote for Mrs. Clinton. Great idea. The same people who say they want to stop Clinton will actually facilitate her election through omission or commission. They are “voting their conscience” they say, the same conscience that is perfectly happy handing their country to the Bonnie and Clyde of American politics.
Just like in the above-mentioned song, there is talk of a comeback after another Clinton presidency. That’s what the Republican smart set thinks. In 2020 with a more sensible candidate such as Jeb Bush, Paul Ryan, Marco Rubio, or even Mitt Romney. Fat chance. What they don’t realize is that another four years of Obama policy, under Hillary Clinton, will complete Obama’s promised “fundamental transformation” of America. Transformation that will make the Republican Party irrelevant in national politics.
Do they not realize what a Clinton presidency brings? Amnesty for tens of millions of illegals, followed by voting rights. Simple executive order. Who will stop her? Congress won’t. They took the power of the purse and impeachment off the table for Obama. Their two most effective checks against an overzealous executive branch. Why would a President Clinton be treated any differently? The Supreme Court? Sure, after a President Clinton nominates two or three more Ruth Bader Ginsburgs to the court. The court will affirm her every executive action, either before or after they gut the First and Second Amendments.
Settle these immigrants and refugees in purple or red states and turn the electoral map a deep shade of blue. Ted or Marco would be lucky to win ten states in 2020. Or in any future election for generations.
How does the Republican Party recover? They might keep one or both houses of Congress, though not for long. Even if they do, “what difference does it make?” Has a Ryan/McConnell Congress differed much from a Pelosi/Reid Congress? Much like the difference between a Bud Lite and a Coors Lite.
Which is why this election is so important. And exasperating that Republican so-called conservatives are willing to throw it all away. Whether over policy such as stopping illegal immigration, amnesty, lousy trade deals, and endless wars. Or over Trump’s crass comments and behavior.
No do-overs on this election. Hopefully there are enough sensible voters who understand what this election is about even if the Republican elites don’t. Truly, “It’s the final countdown.”
Brian C Joondeph, MD, MPS, a Denver based physician and writer. Follow him on Facebook and Twitter.