Medical Tuesday Blog
Is the G.O.P Dying?
Everyone Knows About the G.O.P. Crackup—Everyone Except the Voters
The New yorker, MAY 13, 2016
Do Republicans really dislike their presumptive nominee?
The Republican Party is shattered. Fissured. Over. Dead. These suggestions, and more, have been inspired by the rise of Donald Trump, who has defied and embarrassed Party leaders (and pundits!) to become the presumptive 2016 Republican nominee for President. The conventional wisdom was that he would be stopped, but it turned out that no putative stopper was equal to the task, and now the Party is stuck with a candidate whom many Republicans can’t stand, one whose elevation may portend the crackup of Republicanism itself. Or so we are told.
The backlash to Trump among Republicans and conservatives was always most pronounced in leaders and opinion leaders, which is probably what made the backlash seem more severe than it really was. It is not hard to find political writers who support Republicans but refuse to support Trump, although the #nevertrump movement seems to be fading. And there are still a few prominent Republican politicians who remain immune to Trump’s brusque charm, although Ryan isn’t the only elected official who seems to be planning his eventual conversion. A recent Politico article bore a headline that suggested electoral catastrophe: “REPUBLICANS CONSIDER CLINTON OVER TRUMP.” But the article itself noted, accurately, that “the most absolutist opposition to Trump is held largely by the GOP’s donor class and Washington-based establishment—the very people Trump and his supporters have delighted in offending from the start.”
Of course, these élite Republicans are outnumbered by voters, who don’t seem particularly troubled by Trump’s endless and uncategorizable deviations, provocations, and fluctuations, perhaps because Trump himself is so hard to pin down. On Friday morning, calling in to “Fox & Friends,” on Fox News, Trump explained that his plan to block foreign Muslims from entering the country was more like a “suggestion.” He said, “Everything’s a suggestion,” which is a pretty good summary of his approach to policy: he makes big, forceful statements while simultaneously suggesting, more quietly, that the actual details will be determined later, and might not match his pronouncements. Even on immigration, his signature issue, Trump is surprisingly squishy. He has talked about establishing a “deportation force” to expel unauthorized immigrants, but it seems that what he really favors is a version of an immigration policy known as touchback, in which unauthorized immigrants must leave the country in order to apply for legal resident status. (Lindsey Graham was one of a group of Republican senators who sponsored a touchback amendment to the doomed 2007 immigration-reform bill.) Last year, Trump told CNN, “I would get people out, and I would have an expedited way of getting them back into the country, so they would be legal.”
It remains possible (though by no means certain) that Trump will prove to be a weak general-election candidate, unable to improve upon Romney’s performance, or maybe even McCain’s. Perhaps, in a general election, voters will recoil from his insults, from his seemingly extemporaneous policy pronouncements, from his all-around Trumpiness. Or perhaps some independent voters will decide, as most Republicans already have, that a Trump Presidency, however unpredictable, is more palatable than the likely alternative. His candidacy has already changed the way Republicans talk about immigration, and it may also have an effect on the rest of the Party platform. But from the scant evidence we have so far, it seems that the vast majority of Republican voters will probably vote for Trump this November, which explains why, despite all the protestation, Ryan and most of the other Republican leaders will probably find a way to do what political leaders usually do: follow.
Read the entire article in The New Yorker . . .