Are we witnessing the end of the Republican party?
Yes at least as the Republicans have been positioned for the last sixty years, that is, during most of my lifetime. I write from the perspective of strategic positioning since that is my particular area of expertise.
The end of the familiar Republican Party came quickly, starting slowly with the Tea-Party movement about seven years ago but it ending suddenly with the election of Trump two years ago.
All that is left now is the kicking and screaming of the traditional Republican as they either leave the stage (McCain and Flake) or are dragged into the new Republican party. The new party is being shaped in Trump's image or, more precisely, by his voters
Trump's was not elected by Republicans at all. He was elected by people who traditionally didn't vote. The biggest issue with regard to the future of the Republican Party is whether or not this group will continue to vote and vote Republican. If they don't, the Republican Party will cease to exist because Trump (or maybe just time) has destroyed the traditional Republican base.
Traditionally, who voted in America? The majority did not. Why not? For the same reason, I didn't care about politics for most of my life. I had other concerns: my job, my family, etc. Who did vote? Those who supported traditional institutions, the Republican base, and those who wanted new government institutions that would do more for the people, the Democratic base. Regular, everyday people didn't vote. Regular people didn't vote both happy with the existing institutions but unafraid of how they might change.
Over time, those supporting traditional institutions because more elitist, because these were the people for whom the system was working. But, over time, the unity of this group of elites broke down. For both groups, the traditional snobbery based on wealth creating social position broke down. For some, the appeal of the middle-class lifestyle was more attractive than social position. Others found a new, more modern form of snobbery more attractive.
The Kavanaugh/Blasey Ford saga was a great illustration of the split. Kavanaugh and Blasey Ford were both children of privileged. But for whatever reason, Kavanaugh embraced the traditional values of the middle class: drinking beer, having a stable family, coaching children sports, going to church, etc.: the stuff of middle America. Blasey Ford went another way. She embraced what she sees as a superior form of values to those of the middle class.
This new class of elites-now the only class of elites-are just as privileged as the old, but their primary form of superiority is not just material but morale as well. They are the successful people in the big cities, especially those in glamorous industries: government, law, large corporations, the media, show business, high-tech, sports, and education. This is the source of their wealth, but their moral superiority comes from the fact that they see themselves as the downtrodden: the Elites of the Aggrieved. Half of them feel downtrodden because they are women, others because of their race, national heritage, sexual orientation, their religion or lack of it, their love of the environment, or simply because they are American and, for them, America is the villain of world history.
This new elite claims to represent suffering people of different races, national origins, religions, genders, and the ecosystem, but none of this new elite are actually suffering themselves, except emotionally from carrying the cares of the world on their backs. They naturally want their government to carry this burden for them. They do not support Republicans and traditional values and institutions.
Where does this leave the Republican Party? Trump is not carrying the cares of the world on his back. Nor does he want his government to do so. Despite his background and wealth, he, like Kavanaugh, has been co-opted by middle-class values. He doesn't understand the concept of moral superiority, not even in theory. Nothing in his character or manner is remotely aristocratic.
As I said, Trump was not elected by Republicans. He destroyed the traditional Republican Party. He was elected by people that are no more privileged than the local plumber or mechanic.
These people do not normally vote. The first sign we saw of them in politics since the 30s was in the Tea-Party movement, which was hated by the traditional, very aristocratic Republicans like Bush, McCain, Romney, and every other Republican Senator. The Republican thought they had killed off the Tea Party, with a big assist from Obama.
And they got Trump. There was no one else left to vote Republican except the common plebes. The only questions are: Will these people keep voting? Will they keep supporting Republicans?
It is a possible, but unlikely, that we are seeing the end of the Republican Party.
Two party systems like those in the US tend to balance each other, where if the electorate moves one direction, the balance between the parties moves in that direction. It's not as though the two parties has to be the same two parties. In fact, which parties are those two dominant parties has changed a few times in the past, but has mostly settled out about a hundred and fifty years ago. This seems to happen when one of the parties proves to be incapable of balancing the other party. I'll claim that there were three formerly major political parties that have died: Federalist Party, (Jeffersonian) Republican Party, and the Whigs. Next, I'll provide a brief summary of how they died.
- Federalist Party. Initially, they were the dominant party in US politics, however, infighting had caused the party to go into decline, but probably not terminally so. After a few years of this time in decline, the War of 1812 happened. The Federalist Party was opposed to how the War of 1812 was being handled, and how the (Jeffersonian) Republican party was handling the war, and when combined with a general discontent with Republican economic policies, like the Embargo Act of 1807, they started advocating for New England to secede from the Union. After the War of 1812 ended on a high note, it was viewed as both treasonous and wrongheaded, and the party pretty much died, existing but really without the power to do anything. A Zombie party is you will, that wasn't really a national party.
- (Jeffersonian) Republican Party. After the fall of the Federalist party, it was a few years before another party could rise up to challenge them. Overtime, they got out of touch, and finally, the party establishment tried to prevent Andrew Jackson from taking the Presidency. Andrew Jackson and his supporters leave and start what is now known as the Democratic Party. The party is able to hold on for a few years, but pretty much falls apart. I would summarize it as the establishment of the party got out of touch, and antagonized their base for too long, and then their base left them to create their own party. The establishment flailed around for a while, until it left, not with a bang, but with a whimper.
- Whig Party. With the (Jeffersonian) Republican Party having collapsed, politics becomes polarized more along the lines of whether or not one is for Jackson or against him. Given that they were mainly organized against Jackson, not necessarily for anything in particular, they had a lot of viewpoints that were dramatically different. As such, they couldn't realistically adapt, or really do much of anything when Jackson, or another Democrat, wasn't in power. The party started fragmenting, with a sizable fraction of their voting base leaving for the Freesoil party because of the party stance on Slavery. Not being able to really contest elections, the party started evaporating. Eventually, they split into the Know Nothing Party and the Republican Party, before solidifying under the Republican Party that we all know and love today.
Arguably, the Know Nothing Party would fit into this, as would the Bull Moose Party.
Trump's approval ratings don't seem good, but have you seen some of the members of congress right now? Poll: Flake's approval rating in Arizona at 18 percent. Going through to the poll referenced there, you see that Jeff Flake has an approval rating that's less than half of Trump's! How many other Republican Members of Congress are in a similar position? I don't think it's a healthy position for a party to be in.
Why is this? Perhaps it has something to do with the rhetoric coming from the party for a few years now. There were a number of issues that were unpopular with the base, like Obamacare but by no means exclusively that. There seemed to have been something of a refrain. The Republicans were out of power at the start of Obama's presidency, so it wasn't like they could do anything. So, in 2010, they won back the House of Representatives and a fair number of Senate seats. But a lot of the Republicans said that they still couldn't really do anything, because the Democrats still controlled the Senate and the White House, but maybe if they'd win back the Senate, then they could actually do something. In 2014, they won back the Senate. However, a lot of the Republicans were saying that they were grateful for winning back the Senate, but with Obama in place at the white house, they still couldn't really do much. Now, Trump's in the White House, and there are a number of policy objectives that the Republicans have been generally saying that they'd do it if they win. Many of these, the Republicans could actually implement without any Democrats voting for them. How many of them were accomplished?
My read is that a lot of the base isn't happy with the Establishment right now. How will they respond to that lack of satisfaction? Maybe they'll sit out the midterms en masse and let the Republican party lose, or even move to support the democrats? How the party could die is what would happen after the hypothetical of the Republicans losing. (I'm saying hypothetical, because as bad as some of polling looks, 2018 is structurally going to be a very Republican year. So, if sizable portions of the base leave, will they ever come back? If they don't, will the Republican party wither and die like the whigs? Perhaps instead the base will look for a different party. If so, will it be short lived before eventually coming back to the Republicans, or will the Republican party die like the previous Republican party?
Admittedly, I don't think it's likely that the party of Lincoln is in the process of dying right now. However, there exists some very real scenarios in which it could die. I'd rate the chances of that happening as being less than 5%. But who knows, on a long enough timeline, the survival rate for everyone drops to zero.
Obviously, there are two different answers to that question. One answer if Donald Trump becomes president, and a different answer if he does not. Accordingly, I will give both answers, starting with what I hope the outcome is:
Donald Trump's Republican Party:
Before nominating Donald Trump, Republicans had lost five out of the last six presidential elections. That alone could certainly prompt reasonable people to ask if the Grand Old Party was out of touch with the American people? Was it possible that RINO (Republican In Name Only) elements, particularly the Chamber of Commerce, had hijacked the party that once championed free enterprise, and American Exceptionalism? Many conservative Republicans, myself included, believe that becoming a pale copy of your opponents is the formula for political suicide, and was the culprit slowly killing the GOP.
This year, we had a very messy primary fight. Millions of voters who had been disillusioned and dropped out of the political process years ago, came back to vote for Donald Trump. Trump revitalized our party. This year there was more excitement and there were more voters than in any previous election. There were also more Republican than Democrat voters in state after state this year. All of this is directly attributable to the Donald Trump candidacy.
Even more importantly, Donald Trump excited and motivated millions of disgusted Republicans who believed our party had drifted way too far left. Trump addressed the number one issue we all care most about - stopping illegal immigration. He took a strong stand, promised to build a wall on the border and actually FIX this problem, not just talk about it. Trump also clearly had the best position on the next most important issue as well, our national security.
Donald Trump has recognized American society is coming apart at the seams. Crime in the streets, particularly our inner cities, is rampant. Trump did something no other Republican has done, making a serious appeal for the minority vote. Trump has shown in primaries that he got more Hispanic votes than any of our other candidates, including two candidates of Cuban ethnicity. Trump has promised to make the streets safe in the inner cities for law abiding black Americans.
This can-do attitude, and track record of a lifetime of fixing problems has drawn more people to his rallies than any political candidate in American history.
When Trump is elected, the American people will have spoken loud and clear to say, we want an American president who puts America first, and is not a globalist. His election will also cement the idea that the American people, particularly the conservative movement, is once more firmly in control of the revitalized and growing Republican Party.
Scenario where Trump loses:
Those who want open borders, globalists, and wealthy people who benefit from crony capitalism hate Trump, and are terrified of the reforms he is leading. They have continued to work behind the scenes to stab the nominee in the back. These people would rather see the Democrat win, than a Republican nominee they cannot control with their power & money.
If they are successful in backstabbing Trump badly enough he loses an election, they will once more control the machinery of the Republican Party. In that case, those millions of new Republicans will abandon the party and give up on politics as a way to achieve social change. The grassroots (conservative) Republicans who do all the necessary work like GOTV operations will quit volunteering and leave the party in disgust.
The RINO establishment will preside over what is left of the Republican party after the loss - and that will be one third of the size of the Trump Movement. The Grand Old Party will be finished nationally and will never elect another president. At that point, there will possibly be a true conservative party created from the wreckage of the Republicans who will fade from the scene. It is also possible, as the Republican Party disintegrates, there will be a violent revolution in this country. When the folks on both coasts, and in Chicago, figure they can vote to make the rest of us pay to keep them up, these states will no longer be "united" and the new confederation will not just include the South.
I'm not willing to say that it's dying, but it's certainly in the process of redefining itself in a very unhealthy direction.
Right now they're facing a catch-22 of their own creation: the demographic shifts in America over the last few decades have a lot of the traditionally white, working-class Protestant mainstream frightened of losing their influence. These people have also been strongly affected (as have we all) by the economic troubles over the last period. In times of such stress, it's certainly easier and more emotionally satisfying to look outside and blame someone else for the problems you're facing.
And the Republican Party has been cultivating that sentiment from an effective and motivated part of their base. The problem is, that part of their base overlaps to a large degree with the White Nationalist movement, who've come out away from the fringes where they belong, to co-opt the party that until now has been only paying them lip service. Now that they've been given influence, they want the power that goes with it, and the Trump nomination is a result.
I have to hope that this represents the last gasp of the white nationalist movement before they're relegated back to the fringes. The future of the Republican party hinges on their being able and willing to finally stand up to that part of their base, and cutting them off before they do any more damage. If they can do that, it might cause them some losses in the short term, but they'll recover.
And if they can recover into a newer version of a limited-government conservative party, one that's not based on any kind of ethnic identity, there's definitely a place for them in our national political conversation. I say this as a liberal who caucused for Bernie Sanders in my state (and who's a whole hearted Hillary supporter today) - I know that liberals aren't perfect or always right either, and we need a healthy opposition to keep us from falling victim to our own version of overreach.
But if the Republicans don't recover, if they keep falling down that rabbit hole of fear and nationalism, they'll die as an organization. They'll be relegated to the history books like the Whigs. And then a new center-right party will emerge to take over that place in the mainstream conversation. That new party could be the Libertarians. It could be somebody new who takes over the Republican name out of convenience. It might even be the Hillary Democrats who join forces with their moderate Republican allies (I notice, for example, that Hillary has more supporters named Bush than Trump does.) That last option might even leave space open on the left for a new liberal opposition, with the Sanders movement at its core.
Hang on tight, the next decade will be one for the history books!
Well, probably not.
The two major American political parties are remarkably durable organizations. Both parties have undergone several realignments, in which they shifted their core constituencies and the issues they supported. By modern definitions, the Republican party of the 1860s and 1870s was the more liberal of the two political parties, and the Democrats the more conservative (though those terms were not used in the same way that they are today.) Both parties have shifted ideologically several times. In the 1930s, the Republican party faced a series of crushing electoral defeats, to the point that there were only 18 out of 96 Senators who were Republicans, and 106 out of 435 members of the House of Representatives. Republicans lost the presidential elections of 1932, 1936, 1940, 1944 and 1948. If there was ever a time to assume a political party might be dying, it would be then. And yet, here they still are.
Today, the Republicans control both Houses of Congress, plus a majority of statehouses and state legislatures.
That being said, the chaos roiling the party right now has been building for some time. Consider that last year, despite holding a large majority in the House, the Speaker of the House of Representatives, John Boehner, resigned in the middle of his term and left Congress, largely because he felt he could no longer control the Republican caucus. This came on the heels of several major legislative defeats by Boehner's leadership team, in which members of the Republican party refused to support proposals by their own leadership. Several times, Boehner was forced to pass important legislation with Democratic votes. This is, to say the least, unusual. And after he stepped down, the party had a very hard time finding a replacement who was both willing to take the job and would be supported by a majority of the caucus. This type of internal dissent within a party is unusual; what's happening right now might be seen as a further extension of the same phenomenon, as large segments of the party are increasingly hostile toward the party leadership.
But will this "destroy" the Republican party? I can't say for certain, but my guess is no.
There will be some long-term consequences of what we are seeing now. It may be that the party will realign itself around Trump, and that his brand of nationalism, economic populism and nativism will replace the tax-cutting, deregulating, small-government ideology that has dominated the party for decades. That doesn't mean all Republicans will stop caring about those things, just that they will become less central to the party's political platform. It's possible that this process may lead to a temporary split with more conservative voters. We've seen things like that before, with the Republicans in 1912, when Progressive Republicans under Theodore Roosevelt temporarily broke away from the party, and in 1948 with the Democrats, when Southern Democrats formed the Dixiecrat party.
What, exactly, the Republican party will LOOK like when all of this settles (and it might take YEARS for it to completely settle) is anyone's guess. But the Republicans survived the split in 1912; they survived near-irrelevancy in the 1930s, the Democrats survived the Dixiecrat rebellion in 1948. Each time, the party that emerged on the other side was different than the one that started out.
But I'm fairly confident that when we look back a decade or so from now, there will still be an organization called the Republican Party, and it will still be one of the two major American political parties.
I could be wrong...it's certainly POSSIBLE that the party could fragment irreparably and from the pieces a new party with a different name will emerge. The last time that happened was with the Whig party between 1848-1854. The Whigs had been one of the two major parties, and had formed to combat Andrew Jackson's new Democratic party in the 1830s. By the late 1840s it was roiled with internal divisions and ultimately collapsed.
The party that emerged from its ashes in 1854 called itself the Republicans.
But that was a very, very long time ago, and the Whigs were a young party without the long and established tradition the Republicans have today. Something about THIS Republican party will be different a few years from now, whether Trump wins or loses. But there will probably still BE a Republican party.
Probably. I'm pretty sure. Like, 90%.
I would disagree with Carl, as far as it being just Democratic Propoganda. The Republican Party is facing some serious struggles going forward.
They are relly struggling with "generational turnover.: A large percentage of their voters are older white southern males. There are fewer of those every year.
The populations that are increasing are minorities, especially hispanics, young people and women.
The republican party is struggling with all of those groups. This is why the electoral map is such a struggle for republicans and will continue to get worse for the forseeable future unless they change their tune on women and minorities.
Now that Donald Trump is leading the Republican Party he is compounding these same problems. His comments about mexicans being rapists, his attack on gold star families, his ham handed outreach to african american communities and his constant crudity are damaging other republicans by association.
Both the African American community and the Latino community COULD be a natural Republican voting bloc. Both have a strong theme of faith/religion (whether baptist or catholic) and tend to lean right on social issues. However the Republican party constantly shoots itself in the foot by pandering to their base with racist code phrases. Sometimes they arent so coded (see trump above).
The only way you see this as Democratic propoganda is if the only thing you watch is Fox News. Most Republicans (not all) are doing whatever they can to distance themselves from Trump.
The Republicans will get trounced this election, perhaps badly. If its bad enough they may take several election cyles for them to recover.
You can compare it to what the Democrats went through after the 1968 election where Hubert Humphrey lost. Took them YEARS to recover.