If you’re a GOPer and you tend to be very, very optimistic, you could either take the position 1. Trump had to happen and his failure will clean up the party, or 2. sure it’s a disaster, but an Intervention could be useful and at least save the Senate and House.
Neither thing will happen. Trump can’t pivot and the thought that he could was a laughable remnant of a real political party, like a phantom limb, it feels real, but no that leg is gone – you nominated Trump. So if you think he could still win (and why would you want him to?), or that you can save the Senate ye should abandon all hope. The House may be saved, but that’s entirely because of the baked in limits of gerrymandering and how few seats are really up for grabs.
So is Destroying the party to save the party: Donald Trump is the existential crisis the GOP needs a thing?
Since Richard Nixon’s administration, the GOP has walked a thin line: They wanted to be the party of racists and ethno-nationalists without actually being racist or ethno-nationalist. It was called the “Southern Strategy,” and it was a smashing success. The party of Lincoln absorbed the segregationist white South and the GOP became the default option for nativists and cultural discontents. It was a risky long-term bet, but the string of electoral victories made it immediately rewarding.
And then Donald Trump happened.
Even if they wanted to put the neo-Nazi, skinhead genie back in the bottle, you can’t. David Duke and rancid company have already adopted your campaign and no amount of repudiation will fix it. Besides all that, the man at the head of your ticket is the least proven commodity ever nominated to the most important job in the country. How is that in any way conservative? So the GOP has screwed itself in every conceivable way.
Let’s not forget in all this that Donald Trump won the GOP primary. Their voters picked him. You can’t kid yourself that there were better choices out there. There was nothing but dreck and Trump was the most intriguing dreck for an electorate that is very willing, nay, eager to toss all the scrabble letters in the air in the hopes it’ll fall into the pattern of an actual real word. The Republican Party, as we’ve known it, is already a dead party walking because their base are out of step with the rest of an increasingly brown, polyglot and open minded country. The GOP has been waging a war on competence as well as science and demographics and Trump is the perfect candidate to lead them off the cliff.
GOPers should not kid themselves this is a blip. Trump is Sarah Palin, but at the top of the ticket. He’s the natural extension of a line of diminishing governing faculties from Nixon to Reagan to Bush to Trump. Sure Trump stands out because he’s completely unfit for the office he seeks, but an honest assessment of what we now know about his predecessors would also render them unfit. They were all part of the GOP establishment and thus were surrounded by competent people interested in governing, and yet their records betray a continuum that led us here.
If only we had known about Nixon’s racism, antisemitism and rampant personality defects. If only we were able to definitively show that Reagan was most likely already in the throes of dementia as well as championing economic policies would destroy the middle class. Bush ran as a non-ideological compassionate conservative, but it was pretty clear early on that he lacked curiosity and the people around him had an agenda in which the status of the populace didn’t matter much to them so long as they could spin it.
As unfit as Trump is with his lack of a lifetime of public service, Mitt Romney had pretty much the same bona fides as a callous businessman (job creator when it suits him, job destroyer when it suits him) save for 4 scant years as a governor. No one can say Romney was as batshit nuts as Trump, but his ability to ignore the reality around him to the end, asserting that the polls were skewed, puts him in a adjoining neighborhood to Trump, if not in the same gilded building.
Republicans now have an opportunity to course correct. The “Southern Strategy” has culminated in Trump, and it has to end with Trump. Make no mistake: this is an existential crisis for the GOP. They can recognize Trump as the political Frankenstein they helped build and set about redefining the party or they can fall into line and watch the party sink deeper into cultural rot.
Now they would course correct? The party that had a post-2012 election autopsy and then completely ignored the findings of said autopsy? Even if the people at the top of the party could discern a “course correction” their millions of Frankensteins created by 35 years of anti-government cynicism and adopting talk radio conspiracy theories renders them incapable of putting forward a candidate who is electable nationally. But it’s worse than that because the Republican Party is no longer the RNC, the party leaders, fundraisers and elected officials. Nor is it the functionaries, surrogates and operatives. The GOP is the populace that nominated Donald Trump.
The establishment gave up any chance of getting their party back when they acceded to their electorate and nominated Trump. It was in early 2016 they had a choice, to rig the primaries and take back the party from the crazies and nominate one of the milquetoast nonentities running against Trump. That would have alienated the monster, and they didn’t want to do that. They kidded themselves that they had a tiger by the tail and that that was a tenable situation they could ride out, if not control. They had no control of that tiger, that monster, and it’s already colonized their party like a parasitic virus.
No choice but to kill it, kill the GOP body they’ve colonized and start over.