Monday, October 31, 2016

Has the GOP Already Lost Its Civil War?

Last week, I talked about how good Republicans -- the sorts who are genuinely appalled by Donald Trump and have been from the beginning -- need to come to terms with the underlying causes that brought him to the fore of their party. Donald Trump was not an act of God, he was not a bolt of lightning. He is the Republican nominee because of choices the Republican Party made in dealing with its coalition -- fanning flames of bigotry, paranoia, anti-intellectualism, and outright hatred. Many have suggested that after this election (assuming Trump loses), the GOP will face a "civil war" between the pro-Trump elements of the Party and the "establishment" wing.

Jonathan Chait offers another hypothesis: The GOP already had its civil war, and the Trump wing has won. The only thing now is for sane conservatives to admit defeat and leave.

Chait has some powerful evidence, not the least of which is the fact that Republicans who dare stand up to Trump for even a moment tend to see their approval ratings crater among Republican voters. The fact of the matter is that the median Republican right now is not "appalled" by Donald Trump. They are not outraged by what he's done to the party. Donald Trump represents what they want out of Republicans. They're never happier than when a Republican Congressman whips up yet another frenzied foam of investigatory nonsense against this or that Democratic leader -- Hillary Clinton makes for a good target, but she's hardly necessary for the feeding frenzy. It's no accident that the way Republicans rally votes now is by swearing to never confirm a Supreme Court Justice nominated by a Democrat while pining longingly at the possibility of putting a "bullseye" on Hillary Clinton -- while standing in a gun store. This is the Republican Party for the foreseeable future. The civil war was this year's primary. Non-lunatics lost. Decisively.

It is far from clear that there is anything good Republicans can do to save their party at this point. That's a bitter pill to swallow, no doubt, but a necessary one. The choice is either a fundamentally sane party that is more to the left than you'd like, or an increasingly nightmarish disaster-show where sitting governors consider Trump's potential to be "authoritarian" to be a form of praise.

Your call.

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