Across the political spectrum many Americans felt that the nomination of Donald Trump would destroy the Republican Party. Most of us theorized that Trump would go down in flames at the polls in November and drag a lot of Republican candidates for other offices along with him. To say we were wrong turned out to be an understatement! Trump ended up doing just well enough to squeak out an Electoral College win, the Republicans defied conventional wisdom and retained the Senate along with a sizeable majority in the House. They also found themselves in the strongest position in State capitals since the eve of the Great Depression. In well less than 100 days of total Washington dominance the GOP has been exposed as a building on a shaky foundation and Earthquake Trump started the ground beneath it in motion.
Since the run-up to the 2010 election the Republican Party is far from a united political party. It is much more a coalition Republican/Tea Party. One of the few things that united it was a hatred for Barack Obama that was mainly manifested in a hatred for Obamacare. One of the surest applause lines a GOP candidate could use is to say they were going to repeal Obamacare. That was guaranteed to bring the crowd to its feet cheering. Racism, while denied, was often at the root of it.
At heart most Republicans are patriotic. They often display their patriotism in misguided manners, but at their core they love America; or at least their vision of it. With each passing week it becomes more and more apparent that the Trump campaign (and possibly The Donald himself) colluded with the Russians. How many times have you witnessed a Republican event (particularly a Trump rally) that morphed into USA, USA chants resembling a Jerry Springer Show episode? It is tough to square that circle.
Trump is not at all skilled as a politician! He is used to being the boss in an organization where he is dictator sans superiors, stockholders or a Board that can hold him accountable. You can be a bully and be successful running a private business but that strategy doesn’t work when you are dealing with people who are not beholden to you. Bullies don’t build consensus or inspire loyalty. When stood up to they tend to fail.
Friday the House Republican leadership was forced to pull an Obamacare repeal and replacement bill when it became apparent it was going down in flames due to lack of Republican support. The House Republican caucus is numerically sufficient to pass any legislation it wants. This bill was so bad that despite the repeal of Obamacare being a universal Republican rally cry Speaker Paul Ryan could not muster enough Republican votes to pass it. The Republican House Caucus is so divided that Trump and Ryan could not tailor a bill to satisfy enough Republicans. Despite the spin coming out of the White House this was a major defeat for Trump and the GOP.
Trump will certainly blame others (and already has begun to) but the fact is that his ignorance and arrogance were two of the major reasons it failed. Trump really didn’t know what he was talking about on health care and didn’t understand the complicated process of getting this bill through the Senate. He made the mistake of overplaying his hand with House Republicans. They did not respond well to his bully routine. At a point late in the game he basically told them it was his way or the highway and that he would punish those who voted against him. Well, so many chose the highway that Trump and Ryan never got to call their bluff by putting them on the record. The GOP defectors were willing to go on the record opposing the bill because both it and the President are unpopular. The bill had a 17% approval and Trump’s approval is only in the high 30’s.
Most Republican members of Congress were there before Trump arrived and the vast majority of them intend to be there after Trump is gone. Trump’s longevity is very much in doubt. Normally with a new president politicians are wise to plan on them being around certainly for four and likely for eight years. In Trump’s case he is in so much trouble in his administration’s infancy that it is legitimately questionable whether he will serve his entire first term.
Especially when bullied they were willing to bolt. Why get tagged as a supporter of a president who is becoming increasingly unpopular with your constituents and is unlikely to be there for very long. With the Party seemingly splitting at its seams might it not be better to run for reelection as an “independent”, not a rubber stamp?
We may well be seeing the beginning of the end of the Republican Party and Trump is a major catalyst by virtue of his political naiveté. He is putting his Party and many of its leaders in positions that a politically savvy president never would.
An interesting aside in this current mess is that to date Mitch McConnell has been able to keep a low profile as the controversy seems to be centered in the House at the moment. Whether you like Mitch or not he is a slick politician who always finds a way to survive. Makes you wonder what he’ll end up doing with the Gorsuch situation.
Trump and the Republicans are learning that governing is much more difficult than campaigning or being the opposition Party. Before they took over control of Washington all they had to do was throw rocks. Now they actually have to try to build something. Building something is challenging when your entire team is working together; it is damn near impossible when different groups are pulling in different directions!
Republicans have asked voters to put them in change of Congress and the White House. In exchange they promised a better America for the average American. It appears all they are going to deliver are lower taxes and less regulation for the wealthiest Americans. Not only doesn’t that do Joe Lunchbucket any good; it actually harms him. With Trump at the helm the Republicans are looking at a split and being a region Party at best.
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