If anyone is making a documentary based on the Republican Party on the evening of November 8th I have a suggestion for the soundtrack – Pick Up the Pieces. The Average White Band’s 1974 hit succinctly outlines the challenge that will be facing the GOP.
The Party that loves to wrap itself in the flag and then take one un-American action after another could continue their hypocrisy by using a song by a band out of Dundee, Scotland as their new theme song. Trump, to their displeasure and disapproval, uses the UK’s Rolling Stones. Full Disclosure: they are my favorite band.
At this point Hillary Clinton’s election seems all but assured which means the Republicans will lose the big prize. It is too soon to tell, but I’m still reasonably confident the Democrats will take back the Senate. There will be Republican seats lost in the House, but my guess is that they will still retain the majority in the lower chamber. Overall it will be a bad night for Republicans. By having run a nutcase who espoused their “values” and losing perhaps the GOP can relegate their fringe to an electorally insignificant position in the Party. One of the GOP’s challenges is that they cannot totally purge themselves of that element. If they did that they would simply be too small in numbers to be a significant national political party. The GOP has to find a way to keep the votes of their extreme right without letting them call the internal shots.
One of the big challenges is who will emerge as the new leader of the Party and most likely their 2020 nominee. There is no heir apparent waiting in the wings to ride in on a white horse and save the day.
Most people would point to Paul Ryan who is very likely to remain Speaker of the House and the top Republican elected official in America. With a smaller but still radically right “polluted” caucus to work with his job as Speaker will even be more difficult. He will certainly lack 217 normal Republicans who will follow him and will be forced to compromise within his own caucus or with Nancy Pelosi’s minority. The latter action would only rile up the radical right even more.
Many would select Mike Pence. The stink of Donald Trump won’t wash off very easily. Pence was damaged goods when Trump selected him. Indiana Republicans were glad to see him go because they were very concerned about getting him reelected as Governor. Pence is still not very well known outside political junkie circles but he is a very far right politician! That might play well in a Republican primary but not in a general election. The bottom line is that if Hillary Clinton has a moderately successful or better first term Pence can’t possibly beat her in 2020.
The big field that started out this cycle on the Republican side was just that – big; a lot of quantity but almost no quality. John Kasich has a huge temper problem that would be almost impossible to control in the heat of a general election campaign. Jeb Bush was their best shot at winning and he proved to be an extremely flawed candidate. Trump’s low energy tag seems to fit. Ted Cruz is a true right wing extremist and universally hated in Washington. Incidentally he sold out to political pressure and ended up endorsing Trump – don’t think that would go unnoticed in a general election campaign. Chris Christie is likely to be convicted by 2020. Ben Carson was a onetime flash in the pan who appears to be challenged when you take him out of the operating room. Rand Paul might be able to attract some young voters if only the Paul family political operatives could stay out of court as defendants. What sitting Governor is going to rescue them? Michigan’s Rick Snyder? North Carolina’s Pat McCrory (on the bold assumption he gets reelected)? Florida’s Rick “the fifth” Scott? Maine’s Paul LePage? Need I continue?
You may ask why I am interested and in fact why aren’t I celebrating. The answer is that I’m an American first, a progressive second and a Democrat third. America needs two viable national political parties to prevent it from becoming a rubber stamp for a single and increasingly diverging from the middle point of view. (I firmly believe that America is a center-left country.) America needs a center-right party and the Republican Party can satisfy that demand. However in order to do so it must purge itself of an undue influence from right wing extremists whether they call themselves the Tea Party, alt-right, moral majority, silent majority or whatever new buzzword they concoct in their next reiteration. Conservatism is a legitimate and respectable political philosophy (even though I almost always disagree with it) extremism masquerading as conservatism has no place in America or either of its major political parties.
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