What is happening to us? pic.twitter.com/glbVnmyYnl— Noah Rothman (@NoahCRothman) March 1, 2016
On the dawn of Super Tuesday we're going to find something out--in undeniable terms--about what, exactly, the GOP is made of. To a degree, what America is made of. Of course for anyone who has been paying attention, this isn't all that surprising.
What Is Happening To Us?First things first: Since, 2008--and perhaps before (but it was less clear)--the Republican party has been sitting atop a powder-keg trying to contain its eventual explosion and channel it into votes (and, especially, votes for the special-interests that make up political elites--as though regular voters care about the Ex-Im Bank). This involved a combination of:
- Dog-Whistle/cultural appeals to (a) racism (b) "blue collar values" (remember Romney walking around a NASCAR race admiring the ponchos?) and (c) social-conservative grievance. Conservative media stoked a literally apocalyptic world-view and the party leaders were unable and unwilling to speak against it because it led to votes.
- Attempts to play policy so that where interests compete (the National Restaurant Association vs. Immigration hawks) they could identify a unifying villain in the ready-made Obama.
- An increasingly difficult attempt to hold policy together as the GOP-Entertainment wing (which is really the GOP leadership apparatus) monetized the anger in the base, stoking it higher. We saw the tip of the iceberg in Sarah Palin in 2008--and again in the humiliating parade of Not-Romneys in 2012. When the GOP tried to rig the game so that wouldn't happen again, it backfired spectacularly (the GOP 2016 rules play directly into Donald Trump's hands).
To put it another way: The GOP guys saying "We're not the party of racists!" is a lot like Islamic leaders saying "We're the religion of peace!" and ignoring that there is a heck of a lot of support for things like honor killing and suicide bombing in the Islamic world.
Now, though, that the top of they pyramid is threatened and the masks are off, it's impossible to ignore. It just isn't all that shocking.
It isn't all that clear. Trump might not win the Republican primary. He probably cannot win a general election. If you are a GOP pundit who is horrified, though, do you want to take that chance? The Omnivore wouldn't. At this point very little is clear as a solution. Most conservatives probably couldn't bring themselves to vote Hillary over Trump--although staying home or just refusing to vote on the presidential ballot (or 3rd party) accomplishes much the same thing.
One thing that has to happen is that conservative media and conservative media stars need to be removed from the political process. How you do that isn't clear--but it's one of the things that led to Trump. Yes, the mainstream media is liberal. Yes, they are biased. However if Ingramm is attacking Romney as "Mother Jones" perhaps it's time to reevaluate who your friends are?
Finally, voters need to be given a positive vision of the future. There needs to be immigration reform--probably yes--and not a hallucinatory wall--but securing the borders should be possible as a bi-partisan pitch even if certain concessions have to be made.
Social issues are sticky. Once people decided being gay probably wasn't a choice and was (at least largely) hard-wired, it fell into the civil-rights bucket and the public perception battle was lost. Acknowledge that. The same probably goes for Transgender bathrooms (there really is no material threat from voyeuristic predators in the women's bathrooms and you know it). Give it up. Work towards community (how about allowing anyone who approaches a wedding vendor that the vendor doesn't wish to serve for religious reasons being legally allowed to give them an alternative vendor to go to?).
For Black Lives Matter, the solution is (a) body cameras everywhere and (b) identify and forcibly correct places like the Ferguson Police Department who have monetized crime-fighting.
Finally, stop blaming Obama. He didn't create this and trying to blame him for it is like blaming the American drone program for radical Islam: even if there is some complicated intersection in how working-class voters see policy--especially around immigration--objecting to stuff like the DREAM Act is just doing damage without advancing anything. This is a Republican problem.