GOP: Can the party survive Trump?
“It was ironic that Trump chose Gettysburg, the site of one of the most decisive battles of the Civil War,” to make the closing argument for his presidential campaign last week, said Dan Balz in The Washington Post. Whether the GOP nominee wins or loses on Nov. 8, “Republicans are probably headed for a civil war of their own.” Trump’s candidacy has opened a deep fissure between the GOP establishment and the millions of rowdy, populist grassroots voters backing the real estate mogul. “These are the voters who thrill to his protectionism and isolationism,” said Max Boot in USAToday.com, and “his bashing of immigrants and Muslims.” Republican leaders such as Mitch McConnell and Paul Ryan are hoping that these forces will be subdued by a Trump defeat, allowing the party to return to its free-trade, small-government Reaganite roots. But it’s very possible that a large chunk of the GOP will “continue veering toward the fringe,” and blame Never Trumpers for depriving their hero of his rightful victory. If that happens, the Republican Party “may not survive the Trump takeover.”
Maybe it’s best if moderate conservatives start afresh, said Jennifer Rubin in The Washington Post. Removing the “Trump taint” from the GOP now seems an almost impossible task. It would require replacing the entire Trump-appeasing Republican National Committee; purging elected leaders who denounced Trump as an utterly unqualified, bigoted buffoon and then endorsed him; and redesigning the primary system. But “a new party, small but principled,” led by people who reject Trump’s nativism and protectionism and believe in an inclusive, small-government, reform-minded conservative agenda? Now that’s a movement that could catch on, and supplant the Republicans as the authentic conservative party.
Wait—“the GOP isn’t dead yet,” said Kyle Smith in the New York Post. Sure, “there will be bad blood” between mainstream conservatives and Trump supporters if Democrat Hillary Clinton wins in a landslide. But the Trump phenomenon could burn out just as quickly as it caught fire. The bombastic billionaire leaves behind “no base in the House or Senate,” and when he is gone, every Republican—“from the open-borders-and-weed libertarians to the build-that-wall alt-right”—will be united by one all-powerful common interest: “loathing Hillary.” At the same time, the 2018 midterms are around the corner, and 24 Democratic Senate seats are up for grabs. In statehouses, there’s a deep bench of 31 Republican governors. After just six months of a Clinton presidency, the GOP’s long-term prospects will look positively sunny.
“Trump may fade,” said David Horsey in LATimes.com, but Republicans will still be left with the millions of Trumpkins who now make up the GOP base—an increasingly “nutty faction” who have “brainwashed themselves into believing that people like Clinton and Barack Obama exude the sulfuric stench of Lucifer.” If the GOP wants to survive as a major political force, said Oliver Darcy in BusinessInsider.com, Republican leaders must wrest these voters back from the “conservative media industrial complex.” For years, Fox News, talk-radio hosts like Rush Limbaugh, and far-right websites have “fed the Republican base a steady diet of fringe theories masqueraded as news”: President Obama is a foreign-born Muslim who wants to “steal everybody’s guns”; “Killary” Clinton is a murderer. “It should not be surprising that when Trump came along in 2016 and aggressively echoed this rhetoric, a significant portion of the base accepted him.”
Trump will prove a historic “embarrassment” for the GOP, said Fred Bauer in NationalReview.com. But unlike most Republicans, he grasped “the need to address the concerns of ordinary Americans.” For decades, East Coast intellectual conservatives have exploited their blue-collar populist base to achieve electoral success—promising to restore power to “real America,” only to pursue policies that suited the party’s wealthy donors. The GOP can be the party of the future, said Michael Steel in Time.com, but only if we co-opt some of Trump’s populist policies and strip them of their “hateful rhetoric” and xenophobia. “How do we best help the Americans left behind in the current economy?” What tax and spending policies will help attract investment and jobs to struggling communities? In designing the Republican rebirth, we can follow the model Bill Clinton used for the Democrats in 1992. After the party suffered three presidential defeats, Clinton offered a “third way” that tacked progressive ideals to Main Street values. Republicans need to do the same with conservative ideals. If we succeed, “George W. Bush will not be the last Republican president.”
■ The last time the Chicago Cubs were in a World Series, back in 1945, the price of gas was 15 cents a gallon; World Series ticket prices for the lower grandstand were $6, instead of today’s $5,000; and a Slinky was the top Christmas gift of the year, while this year’s most popular choice is a virtualreality headset.
■ In the period of a year ending in July, more than 800 journalists were barraged with 19,253 anti-Semitic attacks on Twitter, according to a report by the Anti-Defamation L eague. The most frequent words in the Twitter biographies of the attackers were “Trump,” “nationalist,” “American,” “conservative,” and “white.”
■ Superheroes have topped princesses as the country’s topselling children’s Halloween costume for the first time in 11 years, at least partly because many girls are choosing to be Wonder Woman, Supergirl, Captain America, the Flash, and other powerful characters.
■ About half of American adults—117_million people—are already in a “law_enforcement face-recognition network,” according to a new study by researchers at Georgetown University. The compendium of photos of people’s faces—which can be gathered from motor vehicle databases and other government records—can be used by police to secretly identify and get background information on people who are out in public.
■ Since June, about 80 percent of the roughly 300,000 TV commercials aired on behalf of presidential candidates have been paid for by Hillary Clinton’s campaign and various Super PACs supporting her. Only 18_percent were on behalf of Donald Trump.