The "conventional wisdom" on the right these days is that Obama ushered in a divisive era of lawlessness, authoritarianism, and bad morale for the country--this created the tinderbox which Trump (and Cruz) lit on fire. In other words, it's not our fault--it's his.
The question, of course, is what to do about it now? After all--there's Trump--who is running a campaign that can be accurately described as fascist-lite, racist-friendly, and not all that conservative in ideology. He's leading.
Then there's Cruz--a TruCon for real--but who happens to be despised by everyone who has ever met him (let pundits tell you a story about how Washington hates him because he'll be a real conservative--but then go look up his former room-mate who pretty much lays it out that the guy is an asshole, apparently made of compressed smug. Apply Occam's Razor. The Omnivore will wait).
With these two candidates leading--and a calendar that is friendly to both of them until March 15--the out-of-the-frying-pan-into-the-fire scenario is starting to look pretty likely.
So what to do?True. But how to fix that, is where there's so much disagreement. https://t.co/o0nssDH6To— Dan McLaughlin (@baseballcrank) January 22, 2016
Some Possible Scenarios
The New Hampshire Panic Breakthrough:The New Hampshire Panic scenario kicks in when Trump wins Iowa and suddenly real voters in New Hampshire rally for Rubio because they can't actually give Trump a win. The problem with this is that Trump is so far up in New Hampshire--and Rubio is not looking especially strong nationally--that anything but truly massive panic won't help there. This is to say nothing of North Carolina.
Cruz Consolidation: The Cruz Consolidation scenario happens in the SEC states when Washington decides they'd rather have some kind of politician rather than an insane clown--that is, Cruz is running a strong second, Rubio, Jeb, and Kasich have failed to rise--and they come to their senses: Cruz, at least, is a real politician. Problem: they hate him. This consolidation should be happening already and it isn't.
Jeb Fratricide: Jeb Bush seems to be going down and taking Rubio with him. In fact, Rubio has been the target of more negative ads than Trump or Cruz. This is probably Jeb Bush's Right to Rise SuperPAC juggernaut planning for a Trump/Cruz collapse, after which, if Rubio is weak enough, Jeb is next-in-line. The real effect, however, is just damaging Rubio to no real gain.
Establishment Lane Cannibalism: This is what we're seeing now--four guys in the establishment lane with no reason to quit until, like, March (and probably mid-March). This means they just cannibalize each other's votes leaving Trump and Cruz to run the table. In this scenario, though, we get a brokered convention with, like Romney being chosen.
Clearly none of these are operational and all of them are wishful thinking--so what's a party to do?
The First Step To Solving A Problem Is Admitting You Have OneEvery 'conservative'--that's every pundit, every writer, every activist, who didn't join in the media's Sarah Palin pile-on back in '08 and after needs to go and take a look in the mirror: you're the problem. Yes, it's your side--and yes, throwing McCain under the bus would have been ugly as hell--but (a) Sarah Palin was in no way ready to be president . . . and you know it.
And (b) you allowed it to happen--and you allowed what happened after '08--which was the constant and furious blaming of Obama for everything.
What's that? He's to blame for all this stuff? Uh, no--the GOP's plan from day zero was to smother his agenda in its crib. He wasted two years of super-majority trying to work around that. He's been vilified for things he's done, things he hasn't done, and things he couldn't do. This total-opposition has come from congress, from pundits and bloggers, and from the entertainment wing. It has been a unified slate of messaging which has made it okay to, for example, question whether or not Obama loves America.
What? Okay--not question it--just basically say he doesn't love America . . . and is trying to wreck it as hard as he can.
Search your feelings--you know it to be bullshit.
The absolute-zero of any good-will towards Obama was a tactical position for congress and a money-maker for Talk Radio--but the people out there? They really believed it. After all, you were smart, well spoken, and telling them that this was the case. They were told that Congress were sell-outs for not raising the debt limit.
Does that make sense? Really?
No--it doesn't--that's crazy talk and you know it.
So What To Do About Trump?
Here's your game-plan:
- Admit You Were Hyper-Partisan To A Degree The Democrats Were Not: Maybe it's because the Dems tried and failed (they don't have anyone like Rush Limbaugh or Fox News in terms of mind-share and trust). Maybe it's because Social Media didn't really exist under George Bush? Whatever the case, the Republican approach to Obama has been been hostile well beyond anything that Obama has done or any policy he has advanced. If he'd gone Single-Payer (or even Public Option) for Obamacare? You might have a point. He didn't--in an attempt to compromise. If his executive actions on guns were anything but weak-sauce? You might have an argument. They weren't.
- Tell The Base They're Wrong: This will wreck the party--but the truth is that it's (probably) already wrecked. Did you see the 1980's made-for-TV movie The Wave? Do that (come out and show The Base White Power Nazis and John Birchers and stuff and say "This is you--we led you to it and you ate it up and became that thing America is against"). Admit there's no really good reason to keep flying Confederate Flags--which were brought back into vogue from historical obscurity to protest racial integration. Tell the base that their anger at their leaders in congress was based on over-selling (lying) and a misunderstanding of American government about what could be accomplished.
- Be Realistic About Conservatism: Gay Marriage might have gone differently if there had been some middle ground early on. Oh, sure, the left would never give up--but the majority of people might have gone along with, say, civil unions if they'd been offered a while back. Smaller government will need to come from unpopular entitlement reform or drawing down the military--until you are talking about that, you are not talking about fiscal conservatism. Let's abolish the EPA, right? Go look at Flint. You like that? Conservatism does itself no favors when it is sold as a social position that claims to be a political/economic one.
- Co-Opt Democratic Positions: This is how Bill Clinton beat you. Don't be "more militaristic than Obama"--look at the debates to see how stupid that turned out to be (Carly Fiorina lays out her plan--stuff that is already happening. Ted Cruz calls for super-accurate . . . carpet bombing--he knows better. He just hopes you don't). Cutting a deal with Iran? Ohhh--that's bad right? Okay, bright guy: go solve North Korea. What's that? You can't? No one can? There's no good answer? Right--well, same for Iran. Give Obama props on getting a wedge of sunlight in there and drive on. Obama's drone war is unpopular with the left: Laud him for droning the fuck out of our enemies and promise to step it up (fill the skies with drones!). Go for income improvements (negative income tax?) to undercut Democratic positions on minimum wage.
All of this would, yes, wreck the party. Angry white dudes will feel sold out. Racists will be disavowed. At the end of the day, though, the party can reform around something that isn't a humiliating train wreck.
If You Think The Above Is Bullshit . . .
If you read this far and are like: "This is nonsense," go back and ask yourself if you were really surprised by Sarah Palin coming out and endorsing Donald Trump--if you were, you were fooling yourself and you are fooling yourself now. Sarah Palin was always in Donald Trump's camp--she was cut from the same mold. She was more popular than McCain with Trumpian voters. Her excesses were excused--wholesale--by you as well.
In the end, she was an expression of extreme anger--anger at the establishment yes--but anger because the establishment wouldn't do things that were, frankly, nuts. She became anger at Obama--and then, well, anger at everyone by "real Americans" who, it turns out, are a subset of actual Americans and probably aren't enough to win a general election.
But while you knew that, you didn't admit it to yourself--and you couldn't: it would mean losing.
And there's nothing worse than that.
Trump / Cruz 2016!!