The Republican Party isn’t fractured.
The recent criticisms of the president and announcements that Senators Jeff Flake of Arizona and Bob Corker of Tennessee won’t be seeking re-election do not represent a revolt.
They’re a surrender.
They’re not the Boston Tea Party. They’re Lee at Appomattox.
Donald Trump has won the Republican Party.
Every fifty years or so, we have a political realignment. From Jackson’s populous revolution to the abolitionist Republican Party to TR’s progressive movement, to the Dems losing the South in the 60’s, the battle lines change.
Two years ago, when I first wrote about the consistency of party system shifts and the likelihood that we were about to have one again, I had envisioned a different debate; one where we moved from the size of government being central to the discussion to one where we talked about the purpose of government.
I got it half right.
We’re no longer arguing about the size of government. We weren’t ready for the “it’s not the size that matters, it’s how you use it” bumper sticker though. Instead, we’ve doubled down on affirming that size matters. And apparently, we like it small.
Like it or not, the American electorate is more conservative than it has been since the days before the progressives took on big business at the turn of the 20th century.
There’s a reason for that.
At the cusp of the Civil Rights movement in the first half of the 1960’s, the average American was 29. Today the average American is 38.
We have less entrepreneurs, on a relative level, than we’ve had in my lifetime, about a quarter less than the year I was born.
American’s today are half as likely to move to find work than they were in 1940.
The number of Americans employed by big businesses has increased every year for two decades as the “Walmart-ization” of America continues to eliminate small and medium firms. Our dependence on these large multi-national corporations for life sustaining necessities like healthcare has never been more.
We are older, more satisfied and more dependent on big business than we’ve been in a long time, perhaps ever. And we don’t want any of that to change.
That’s the definition of conservative.
Less democratized institutions like the media, entertainment and the Supreme Court, for now, haven’t moved yet. But at our current trajectory, they will.
The American sin of racial inequality isn’t going away any time soon. This doesn’t help that one bit. The impacts that inequality has on people’s lives are material and not imaginary political motivators. So, if ignored, we should expect strong resistance from impacted communities. And we should get used to pro athletes kneeling during the national anthem. And pray it stays peaceful.
That’s the price of complacency.
The shift didn’t happen over-night. We’ve been brought to a boil, slowly. Most haven’t noticed.
Barack Obama was an Eisenhower Republican. His most progressive reform, Obamacare, was a conservative blueprint from Republican Mitt Romney’s Massachusetts health reform. A man walked into a first-grade class and shot 20 first graders with an assault rifle and we didn’t get a single piece of gun control legislation passed.
The reception of his centrist positions as “radical left” is a function of the country’s political trajectory over the last 40 years.
The water is bubbling.
Like it or not, the country has moved right. And the political lever being used to get Americans on the bus right now to continue that move is anti-immigration, anti-globalist nationalism.
Whether or not that’s the right message for America is another debate. I for one don’t think it is. But that brings me to this important point.
I once considered myself a Republican. But like Bob Corker and Jeff Flake, there’s not room for me in that party any more.
Not because the party is falling apart. Because we lost the party.
For the anti-globalist, small government, social conservative base, Donald Trump is giving them something that they haven’t had in a long time. Somehow, he’s been more honest in his intentions and committed to his message than any politician in recent memory. He’s actually trying to do the things he said he would do.
The backwards, uninformed, ineffective things that got him elected. And that hasn’t happened since the pretend Ronald Reagan that modern conservative America invented was in the White House of their imagined past.
The goal is a patrimonial, ineffective government oligarchy. Where business interests rule the day. And government has no power. Less because of liberty and more because of ineffectiveness.
If that’s your thing, you’re going to like the next 30 to 40 years or so of American politics.
If it’s not, then it’s time to get organized and figure out what your next leader looks like.
Here’s a hint: If it’s Bernie Sanders, get ready for Mike Pence 2024 after a two term Trump presidency. Because centrist republicans and independents buzzing around aimlessly for their lost hive, aren’t swarming to that one.
All of this was all on display for the like’s of Corker and Flake to see before the election. They chose to support it. And they lost the party.
Now, Flake and Corker and even McCain are a different party in 2017. I am too. People like them and Evan McMullen and John Kasich are not a resistance within the party. They’re a different party.
Democrats? I don’t know.
The shift to the right is on though. And as much as that may dismay the Democratic party, it’s a reality.
If you’re waiting for Donald Trump to drop the ball in the eyes of his party, you’re going to be waiting for a long time. Because he’s already won.