From Strom Thurmond to Donald Trump: How the GOP Rose and Fell

thurmond

Strom Thurmond and his running mate Fielding Wright, nominees of the Dixiecrat Party in 1948

On Tuesday, the Party of Lincoln nominated for President a reality TV star with no government experience or policy platform who has been enthusiastically endorsed by the KKK and other white nationalist groups. Though an extreme outcome, this is not a departure. Republicans have been on this road for a long time. As this “Lifer” exits the party it’s worth taking a moment to reflect on the journey that led us to this miserable place.

Perhaps the best starting point is Truman’s 1948 executive order desegregating the military. That move sparked a third-party challenge from Democratic Senator Strom Thurmond, which would blossom over time into a shift among Southerners toward the GOP. A glance at Thurmond’s speech accepting the Dixiecrats’ nomination in Houston reveals a style and themes that persist today among the Tea Party.

The First Tea Party Speech

In 1964, Republican Presidential nominee Barry Goldwater pushed the GOP away from its traditional role as a proponent of Civil Rights legislation. Breaking from the rest of the party, Goldwater took a “principled” stand in opposition to the passage of the Civil Rights Acts on libertarian grounds. This was the beginning of a strange relationship between so-called libertarians and the counter-civil rights movement. Nixon in 1960 won a third of black votes. Goldwater earned 6%.

How Libertarianism Failed African Americans

The Tension Between Civil Rights and Limited Government

After Jim Crow was dismantled it took time for the counter-civil rights movement to find its feet. When they did, they would be standing under a new banner, cloaking their concerns behind new ‘culture war’ rhetoric.

Years later as the movement gained momentum analysts would point to the Supreme Court’s decision in Roe v Wade as the spark that launched the religious right. That simply isn’t the case. Protestant religious conservatives who would form the backbone of the religious right were largely disinterested in abortion in the years after Roe v Wade.

How Protestant Evangelicals Shifted Their Abortion Stance

Southern conservatives defeated by the Civil Rights movement found a way back to power not through abortion activism, but thanks to a very different issue. In 1978 the Carter Administration signaled their intention to use federal power to desegregate the religious schools set up to evade busing. It was private school desegregation that would inspire Jerry Falwell and Paul Weyrich to found The Moral Majority in 1979. Abortion, porn, school prayer, and other “culture” issues became the lever behind which the losers in the battle over Jim Crow could push their way back into power.

Southern Baptists and Southern Politics

These Southerners, having lost their influence in the Democratic Party, found an empty Republican infrastructure in the South ripe for takeover. Nixon often gets undeserved credit for a “southern strategy” that swung the South toward the GOP, but he accomplished almost nothing on the ground. It was the organized, passionate work of the Moral Majority and similar culture warriors that later succeeded in building a Republican infrastructure in the South.

Myths and Realities of the Southern Strategy

New Republican converts were markedly more conservative than the Republicans who occupied positions of authority in the party. As early as the first years of the Reagan Administration this sparked tensions, as Jerry Falwell expressed frustration over the way Reagan officials treated religious activists.

Throughout the Reagan and Bush I years, the culture warriors would remain an eccentric fringe of the GOP. Reagan tolerated them, but kept his distance. He pointedly refused to make in-person appearances at anti-abortion events. Religious Right activists and the Dixiecrats who rallied around them were treated as useful idiots. All the while though, they were building influence on the ground in formerly Democratic Southern states.

In 1989, Al Gore’s campaign chairman in Texas would switch to the GOP to run for Agriculture Commissioner. Rick Perry would ride this eccentric fringe to the longest Gubernatorial career in Texas history.

With the 1994 wave election, those political oddballs were swept into positions of real power all up and down the ballot.

The Stockman Effect

Across the 90’s reform Republicans like Jack Kemp found themselves battling the Jesse Helms and Pat Robertson wings of the party and steadily losing ground.

My Favorite Republican

As the party grew more conservative and white, Republicans in urban areas and the North began peeling away. Just five years after Rick Perry switched to the GOP, Republican Elizabeth Warren became a Democrat.

The late 80’s and early 90’s also saw the rise of right-wing media. Led initially by characters like Morton Downey, other figures like Ann Coulter and Rush Limbaugh pioneered a new form of political entertainment.

Ann Coulter is the Andy Kaufman of Politics

Fact free, obnoxious, and catering to their audiences’ cherished paranoia, they radicalized a slice of the white electorate frightened by their own perceived decline. With the arrival of Fox News, they would manufacture a media bubble that left America’s political right utterly dissociated from fact-based decision-making and insulated from the consequences of their intensifying extremism.

Why the Right Has Such Lousy Information

Blueprint for Republican Reform: Pundits

Running beneath these trends like water flowing underground was the decline of America’s social capital institutions. Their weakness, described in The Politics of Crazy, stripped the country of critical filters that once acted to mediate our political climate and squelch the influence of extremists.

The Politics of Crazy

With the election of George W. Bush, Kemp’s influence was entirely eclipsed. Religious kooks and racial dead-enders were ascendant. Whatever dissenting voices remained inside the GOP were either disciplined into compliance or dispatched to the outskirts. Figures like Bruce Bartlett and David Frum lost their jobs and were hounded out of the party. Political purges and a propaganda-driven media infrastructure meant no reasoned voices could be heard.

Rebuilding the GOP: Think Tanks

Unsurprisingly, the Second Bush Administration was an unmitigated catastrophe, starting with a disastrous war and culminating in a shattering economic collapse. John McCain who had challenged Bush in 2000 as a reformer, made a successful run for the 2008 nomination. Despite the difficulty of following the second George Bush, he might have won had he not been pressed into picking Sarah Palin as his running mate. Palin was a dimwitted amateur who weighed down the campaign with gaffes and erratic behavior.

McCain lost and faded from influence. Palin, erratic, incoherent, and telegenic, became the poster child for a new era of unchecked right-wing stupidity defined and promoted by the Tea Party. Rocked by the disasters of the Bush presidency and robbed of any credible leadership the GOP had no means to fend off an insurgency. An astro-turfing project sponsored originally by one of the Koch Brothers’ organizations, the Tea Party was a monster that immediately turned on its handlers.

Since the Moral Majority, Republicans had been animating voters with coded appeals to racism. The rise of the Tea Party replaced an era of coded racism with a shift toward open racism. As the movement grew more powerful and extreme, it pushed the GOP toward an unprecedented white nationalism.

Can the GOP Survive as a White Nationalist Party?

By the summer of 2012 it was clear that the GOP was consolidating around a shrinking white, Southern base. Former Republican strongholds in California, Illinois, Pennsylvania, and Connecticut had collapsed.

The Republican Dilemma on a Map

With Romney’s defeat came another, less noticed landmark. After the 2012 Elections, Republicans for the first time in our history held none of the mayor’s offices in the nation’s 10 largest cities.

Republicans Should Not Surrender the Cities

A Republican coalition once-centered around commerce, trade, and urban professionals was developing into an unrecognizable party of lower-income rural whites, mostly in the South.

How the GOP is Winning Among the Poor

This emerging party of the New South was borrowing a disturbing portion of its appeal from the Old South. As racist rhetoric became more overt during Obama’s second term, it became impossible to maintain even the most minimal outreach to minority communities.

Republican Minority Outreach Will Not be Easy

No one on either side of the aisle has shown any willingness yet to grapple with the tangible impact of pluralism on lower income white voters. That alienation, combined with a complete lack of a vision for the future, has fed a drift toward political extremism in middle America.

White Supremacy and the Shadow Welfare State

Results from the 2014 Election, touted as a Republican success story, demonstrated the party’s demographic collapse. All capacity to compete outside a hyper-conservative base in the South and rural west had disappeared. Inside the red states Republicans consolidated their hold. Everywhere else our capacity to remain relevant had ended. The White House was now permanently out of reach. The force that holds a party together in our system had vanished from Republican politics.

The Missing Story of the 2014 Election

Into this maelstrom marches a bigoted reality TV star with a lot of money. He swept through the 2016 primaries by rejecting the racist dog-whistle in favor of a racist bullhorn. No one could lay a glove on him, because Republicans are not allowed to talk about or acknowledge racism.

Why Republican Criticism of Trump Fails

This is now Donald Trump’s party. As such it is officially a party of white nationalists. His inevitable defeat in the fall won’t change the party’s orientation in the slightest. There is only one route back to relevance and that involves grappling with the party’s relationship to race. It will not be easy and frankly, it probably will not happen. For the first time more than 150 years one of our two parties may disappear from the national stage.

Whatever entity comes to occupy the space vacated by the modern GOP, it will have to find a successful response to America’s core racial dilemmas:

Middle Class Life in 1957

Race and the ‘Middle Class’

Sympathy for the (blue-eyed) Devil

Why I Live in a White Neighborhood

Reagan was able to assemble an unlikely coalition of commercial interests, Dixiecrats, and Northern blue collar voters on the strength of a single appeal – A radical new approach to fighting the Cold War. That’s the only interest that held these people together. When the Soviet Union collapsed, with it collapsed the logic beneath the Republican coalition. A quarter of a century later we have still not found a reason to exist in this new world. Our time appears to have run out.

Looking to the future, there is hope and there are challenges. The GOP as we know it is probably finished, but there are opportunities to rebuild from the wreckage.

America’s Parliamentary Future

Launching an Urban Republican Rebellion

Along with race, a new political movement will be asked to grapple with the demands of a changing economy and a shrinking world.

Beyond Jobs

With so many amazing improvements to our lives emerging from beyond the reach of government, it can be tempting to imagine that political dysfunction doesn’t matter. We shouldn’t be complacent.

A Warning From Flint

And in case Democrats are tempted to gloat, here’s a warning. The same cultural forces, described in The Politics of Crazy, that fed the demise of the GOP are nipping at your heels. Get ready for the rise of your own crazy politics.

Democratic Denial and the Politics of Crazy

Despite these frustrations, America today is more prosperous and powerful than it has ever been and our future remains bright.

A Golden Age

 

 

Chris Ladd is a Texan living in the Chicago area. He has been involved in grassroots Republican politics for most of his life. He was a Republican precinct committeeman in suburban Chicago until he resigned from the party and his position after the 2016 Republican Convention. He can be reached at gopliferchicago at gmail dot com.

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Posted in Election 2016, Republican Party, Uncategorized
98 comments on “From Strom Thurmond to Donald Trump: How the GOP Rose and Fell
  1. EmmanuelGoldstein says:

    It looks like Dunning-Kruger Effect Nation has found their Poster Boy!

  2. Mary_Shelley says:

    This is a great analysis. My family led by my uncle and dad have gone full tea party, and listen (and espouse) utterly vile sentiments about anyone who doesn’t think like they do. Too, you hit the nail on the head with the end of the Cold War. With no one to fight as the great nemesis externally, they looked inward to democrats. 911 only exacerbated this need to fight with, now, two enemies – Muslims and democrats. This constant fight mentality is trigger-happy and needs a lot of whipped up outrage to keep it alive and hot. It’s impossible for me to be around during any election cycle.

  3. Sir Magpie De Crow says:

    “Hello not-friends.”
    “It’s night time in America again…”

    • flypusher says:

      I didn’t watch it live, because looking at Trump for 70+ minutes is torture. But I get the gist from the clips and the quoted text. Un-effing-believable. This is the speech of a typical authoritarian strongman. DO. NOT. WANT!!!!

      Also looks like he’s already creating jobs, for fact-checkers.

  4. Joy Jacques says:

    Yes, yes, yes! This is a great summation Chris, and one I want to share as widely as I can. This is the hopeful message I’m going to start promoting:

    The convention this week showed all of us that Democrats, Independents, and Republicans need to come together and vote for Hillary. Because, as of today, the radical, ultra, right-wing of the Republican party has left us with no other option. I suppose people could chose not to vote, but I think conservatives have to step up and do the right thing–they need to protect our way of life. Trump is an authoritarian who has shown over and over that he has no qualifications for the office of President, and is, frankly, dangerous. The potential risks are too great. Perhaps you think this is hyperbole and partisanship on my part, but honestly, I WANT the Republican party of the 1970’s and even 1980’s back again. I WANT a conservative party to balance a liberal party. I want to see both coming together to compromise and work out solutions.

    After the election the Republican party can begin the process of reworking itself to be a real conservative governing organization again so we can have two sane and realistic voting options.

    It’s not good for our country to have only one option. The Democratic Party has absorbed the old liberal and moderate Republicans, and this has pulled the party further and further to the right. The Bernie wing justifiably argues that the Democratic party has “lost their way” because it’s not a liberal party any more. I want MY party back too!

    Ivanka Trump and Thomas Barrick articulated a vision of a Republican Party that could work with a Democratic Party to move America forward, but the man they nominated can’t possibly do the job. They need to re-vamp and find a candidate who CAN.

    “Not a Red America and a Blue America, the United States of America!” 🙂

    • 1mime says:

      One thing you missed, Sir Crow. “Our country” isn’t “conservative’s country”. They don’t want “our” way of living.

      It’s unfortunate that Ivanka isn’t the candidate instead of pappy.

  5. Sir Magpie De Crow says:

    This is perhaps the Citizen Kane of f**ked up videotaped police shootings.

    From Florida:
    A Swat team led active shooter response to a situation where it was just a black behavioral therapist trying to help an autistic man with a toy truck who had wandered from his group home.

    Not a gun. F***ing toy truck.

    The result: a complete and utterly unforgivable disaster.

    And despite the know-it-allness of a certain regular poster on this site and their suggestion that full compliance by minorities would solve everything, compliance in this case still resulted in an unarmed black person getting shot.

    The police union’s response is breathtakingly stupid.

    http://www.usatoday.com/story/news/2016/07/21/north-miami-police-shooting-accidental-union-says/87414898/

    • rulezero says:

      From what I’ve seen and if everything is as it is said to be, this officer needs to be charged, minimum, with felony reckless conduct.

      If you shoot someone and they ask why, the answer you’re supposed to provide should never start with, “I don’t know.”

      This is likely one of two things: A) This officer is incompetent in the use of weapons and shouldn’t be where he’s at, or more likely B) This officer’s index finger was inside the trigger well when you are NEVER supposed to do that. Index that weapon until you’re ready to fire.

      I was a bit dismayed and surprised until I figured out it was Florida, as usual.

    • rulezero says:

      i assume you’re speaking about me. I haven’t claimed to be a know-it-all nor even an expert, and I don’t recall where I said that full compliance by minorities would “solve everything.”

      All I’ve tried to do is educate you guys on what the nationwide use of force standards are and that you need to take every single use of force incident as its own universe. I’ve also urged everyone to wait for the investigation to be complete prior to passing judgment.

      But, if I’m not welcome here, then I’ll leave. Merely let me know and I’ll bid you all good day.

      • Sir Magpie De Crow says:

        Was not talking about you…

      • rulezero says:

        Fair enough, then.

      • flypusher says:

        Hey rulezero, you absolutely are welcome here. It’s very good that this blog is attracting people from so many different backgrounds, profession, and political persuasions. Also you have done a very good job of explaining things from the police perspective. We like a good, rational, adult and complete chewing on the issues, and the more input the better.

      • Bobo Amerigo says:

        What fly said.

      • Rob Ambrose says:

        I agree with Fly, you’re a great poster here. I appreciate your insight as an officer.

        That said, in situations where we dont need insight, we can see what happened with our own eyes, as in this case, insight is not necessarily needed.

        Not saying you are in any way defending this particular shooting, with the autistic man and his helper, as it is quite clearly indefensible.

      • 1mime says:

        Ditto what Fly said. BUT, as someone within the system, you can help change things in ways we can’t. There are legitimate problems with policing, especially in the minority communities. There are also legitimate problems within these communities that make the job of policing much harder. Somehow, some way, things need to change. I think it involves changing police procedures that are contributory to danger for both parties and probably a whole lot of other things I just can’t see or understand. It also involves America stepping up to change the environment that is creating such problems – education, shelter, jobs – you know the litany. ‘

        Echo the welcome and hope you are learning from us as we will most certainly benefit from your perspective. Encouragement for you to lead. If one caring policeman/woman in each district would make the commitment to change those aspects of their policing that they can, it would become a movement. You can be that person where you are. Lead.

      • pbasch says:

        I’m only replying to one phrase in the comment: “you need to take every single use of force incident as its own universe.” While I know next to nothing about policing (I don’t need to – I’m a middle class white guy who watched Officer Joe Bolton as a kid and learned that they work for me), in every other walk of life you can learn something by looking at statistics and trends. Are you really saying that (a) there are no trends here, keep moving, or (b) of course there are trends, but one must never acknowledge their existence, lest we alarm folks? Just seems odd to me that in this one walk of life, statistics and trends must be disregarded. I guess I’m skeptical.
        Nothing in the above statement should be interpreted as calling for the commenter to leave this blogiverse.

  6. 1mime says:

    Thanks guys for editing the high points of tonight’s GOP convention. It was much more enjoyable seeing it through your eyes. And, the videos were wonderful. Made me smile to see Michelle cut loose and Michael Steele be so warm and knowing. Good stuff. Ends my day on a very positive note. (Better hurry and turn off the PC so I don’t blow this good aura!)

  7. Houston-Stay-At-Homer says:

    Trump did fine. He’ll get good marks from the GOP press.

    The Democrat press will talk about the inaccuracies and hyperbole.

    There will be some soundbites on both sides, but all in all, a solid speech for what it is.

    I’m just kind of thrilled to have a GOP candidate not mention abortion or protecting the sanctity of marriage.

    • Houston-Stay-At-Homer says:

      But the speech was really, really, really long.

    • Rob Ambrose says:

      I think it was too dark, too angry, painted too dark a picture.

      Remember, spreading fear as a tactic only works when there’s a kernal of truth to it. Crime is at multi decade lows right. Its literally the safest it’s been in America in probably forever.

      Don’t get me wrong, I don’t think he bombed. It was adequate. I don’t think it’s going to bring in anyone who didn’t already support him though.

      • Ryan Ashfyre says:

        Steve Schmidt said tonight that Trump’s speech might well be effective because it could resonate with an American public that does not feel optimistic about the future, that they do believe their country is headed in the wrong direction.

        Hillary Clinton and the Democrats must repudiate this idea thoroughly and unequivocally. Display the vision and the leadership that can let the American people believe in a bright future and this election is theirs for the taking. That’s all I can say.

      • 1mime says:

        I’m a Hillary voter but she’s going to have to get off the “bash Trump” horse and start focusing on a positive message. He’s sucking her in to negativism while he advances a positive message. Pretty slick. She doesn’t have O’s skills to inspire so it’s going to be harder but too many emails and ads that are negative. She’s hurting herself.

    • 1mime says:

      Uhhh, I don’t think Trump wants to go there……….too much history….

    • 1mime says:

      Trump is making his pivot to a positive message…Hillary and her team need to pay attention. On CNBC this morning, the talk was how “hopeful” Trump’s message was…This is all being carefully packaged but remember who the audience is – people who believe what they see and hear – and they don’t watch MSNBC for an alternative POV nor do they move within circles that challenge them. If the H team is counting on Trump being his own worst enemy, he may just be changing enough “in time” to give the fence straddlers the confidence they need to hold their nose and vote for him.

      Watch.

  8. johngalt says:

    Unrelated, but could Michelle Obama be the coolest first lady ever? We might disagree about policies, but the Obamas have an almost supernatural grace under the hardest pressure possible.

    • 1mime says:

      Depends upon who you ask, JG (-; I’m all in, but Michelle is plastered all over the hard right sites with the ugliest comments ever. Her big problem? She’s Black. In addition, she’s Black and she’s an attorney. And, she’s Black, an attorney, and First Lady. And she’s Black, an attorney, First Lady and a sweet mother and wife and daughter. What is she possibly missing?

      Oh, her mother has been living with Michelle and Barack in the WH since he was inaugurated. So, there’s family love and loyalty too. Just kidding of course, but as far back as I can remember, all the first ladies have been gracious. Hillary was always more overtly political and ambitious but she performed very well as FL. As did the two Bush FL, Nancy Reagan , Lady Bird Johnson, and Betty Ford while she could. (alcoholic) The women always made me proud, regardless of party.

      • 1mime says:

        Well, I made that post before the video popped up! How fun!!! A really great personal look at our first lady having a goood time. Man, I bet she and Barack can’t wait to get into a more relaxed lifestyle.

      • johngalt says:

        Indeed, 1mime, other first ladies have also fulfilled their office with grace. Few have been as assaulted as the Obamas (as you imply), and that makes Michelle’s grace all the more remarkable. In similar circumstances, how many of us would be within leagues of their poise? I wouldn’t, for sure.

      • 1mime says:

        Nor, I. I think they knew clearly that they would have to meet a much higher standard of comportment, and they have both done so. I don’t see the angry body language and narrowing eyes that OB was describing, but I do remember seeing tears. And they were real.
        I guess it’s like so many things. The view depends upon what you expect to see.

  9. Sir Magpie De Crow says:

    Former RNC chairman Michael Steele is gonna get his gin and tonic…
    A black republican gets frank… with a capital F.

    • 1mime says:

      I’ve never seen Steele so frank and direct. He is letting it all hang out. Good for him. I don’t think he’s been given a high enough profile in the Republican Party. He has always impressed me. A loss to the party because he obviously understands what’s needed. He truly has his own voice and it is powerful.

    • johngalt says:

      Wow. That’s all I can think to say.

  10. Sir Magpie De Crow says:

    laura Ingraham at GOP convention in Cleveland…

    You go, Mein Fraulein!

    Isn’t “accidental fascism” hilarious!

    • Sir Magpie De Crow says:

      Here is a photograph of her and Trump that should help provide context…
      (The following picture was provided by renowned AP photographer Leni Riefenstahl)

      • 1mime says:

        What’s the verdict, all? Trump nail it?

      • Rob Ambrose says:

        His speech? Hard to say Mime. I think it’s ineffective, tedious, and basically a giant turd. I can’t see it appealing to anybody who didn’t already support him. It’s basically just his stump speech. That goes on. And on. And on.

        There’s a good chance that my intense dislike for Trump is clouding my judgement, although to what extent is unclear.

        I guess a good barometer for me if he speech was objectively good is not whether I get angry or disgusted or not, but whether I get worried or not. This speech is not making me worried.

  11. Houston-Stay-At-Homer says:

    Ivanka started a bit rocky, but she’s now giving a hell of an introductory speech for a Democrat presidential candidate.

    Welcome to the Trump pivot in the general election.

    • 1mime says:

      That is weird….my brother is vacationing in Montana and he just tweeted almost the exact same comment! I’m not watching so depending upon those with stronger constitutions than mine to fill me in on the “high” points !

      • Houston-Stay-At-Homer says:

        Equal pay, affordable childcare, supporting women when they become mothers…If Ivanka hits the campaign trail with this as her speech, she’ll get attention.

        However, not sure whether real Republicans can tolerate that.

      • 1mime says:

        In all honesty, those should be considered “universal” programs that are not party-specific. I wonder if we’re seeing Trump throw everything at the kitchen door to see what will “stick”….especially having Ivanka present it. Trying to chip away at the Democratic candidate. As you noted, will anyone buy this coming from a “Republican”? After all, it is Donald Trump…a new kind of conservative……

  12. Rob Ambrose says:

    Man, the transcript from Trumps NYT interview shows a complete moron. It is both terrifying, fascinating, and bewildering as to how this mental pygmy is able to put pants on in the mornings:

    “…….Everything is a deal, and all deals are like the real estate deals that have made him a fortune. When the Times reporters ask him how he would deal with ISIS, he says that he would get the Turks to do more. When he’s reminded that the Turks care more about bashing the Kurds than defeating ISIS, he says, “It would be wonderful if we could put them somehow both together.” What’s his diplomatic plan for doing that? “Meetings,” Trump replies. “If I win, we will have meetings … very early on.”

    Its mind boggling bow dumb this man is. And I don’t mean that he doesn’t know the specifics of Erdogan and Kurdish relations. Lots of smart ppl don’t. It’s that he is unable to grab that these are complex, complicated situations and require similar solutions. It’s that he doesn’t have the self awareness to know how goddamn dangerous he is. It’s how simplistically arrogant he is to think that he can fix these problems with a few meetings and phone calls.

    These are all the signs of an intellectually impaired mind.

    • nacinla says:

      He displays, and therefore appeals to, that mindset — if it can be called a “mind” — that sees all of the world’s problems as simple, and therefore the solutions are simple: Illegal immigration? Build a wall. Unemployment? Lazy slackers need to get off their butts. California drought? “We’ll just turn the water back on.” No health care? Just buy a policy. Nations at war in the world? We’ll meet with them and impose our will and if not we bomb them. Someone disagrees with us? We just have them removed from the room. The world is full of good people (those who agree with and praise us) and bad people (those who disagree and don’t admire us). I don’t think I’m exaggerating here.

      • 1mime says:

        Where Trump gets into trouble is when he’s put on the spot with tough questions on serious issues. As long as he can control the “mike”, he can cajole, deflect, dissuade. Put him in an actual “presidential situation” and he bombs. Why? Because he has no intellectual depth and really doesn’t want to think that hard. People confuse his personal business success (what there is and there is some along with lotsa failures) with intellectual prowess. It ain’t there. But if the media allows him to function on this superficial level, the people who support him won’t see it. I can assure you, they’re not reading the same articles most of us are reading.

        Challenge has to come from the tv media and in the debates from the moderators. Hillary will not be able to do it alone without moderators who force Trump to display his ignorance of matters of national and international importance. And, I’m not talking about irrigation systems for Scotland’s golf courses.

  13. n1cholas says:

    I’ve posited in the past on the lefty liberal sites I hang out in, that we should carpetbag the Republican party.

    GOPLifer: you’re already there. IF Strongman Trump loses, it should be ripe for the taking.

    Please remake the Republican party into your sane, reasonable, and rational Republican party. We really do need to functional political parties.

  14. tuttabellamia says:

    Lifer, you may exit the GOP, but I hope that doesn’t mean you will exit the blog. There’s always a need for excellent analysis and commentary of the kind that you provide, and it’s not as though politics is going away, plus you write on other topics such as technology, sociology. religion, and economics.

    In any case, you wouldn’t be letting down the commenters on this site if you leave the GOP, since most people here don’t identify with the GOP.

  15. Really off topic! But what do people think will happen to the stock market with a Trump election?

    What i think? if Hillary is expected to win and Trump pulls off an upset, i think we will see an immediate drop that will make Brexit look like a celebration.

    If Trump starts to look like he is winning, i think the decline will start in October and keep going. There are a lot of reasons i think this, all obvious to all of us. It starts with the huge deficits that will be created by the tax cuts proposed by all the Republican candidates. No republican that i am aware of proposed any tax plan that came remotely close to being balanced! On top of that, you have Trumps volatility. I do not see anything good for the stock or bond markets if Trump gets elected!

    • Stephen says:

      I agree. The market hates uncertainly. Trump does not know where he stands or what he will say until he opens his mouth. And seems to change every time he opens it. There is a reason why big money is reluctant to donate money to his campaign. Many people backing him think he will improve the economy. Well right now it is better than it has been in years. But Trump can fix that. The ignorance and lack of imagination of a large swath of the electorate is frightening.

    • 1mime says:

      CNBC today interviewed the President of the US Home Builders Assn. The feeling is that Hillary would be good for this market sector whereas Trump would be less so. Guess they’re more interested in building things with roofs rather than just walls.

  16. Houston-Stay-At-Homer says:

    I would like to point out that Trump is now cracking a 40% chance of winning the general election according to our friends at 538.

    One thing to keep in mind is that although no one knew how to interpret the polls because everyone was looking at some secret meaning in the polling, but Trump’s polls have been pretty darn accurate all through the primaries. Why would we expect that to change now?

    Hillary still leads in the polls, and her lead is very similar to the lead that Kerry had at this point in 2004. You remember President Kerry don’t you?

    Over the last month, Trump has consistently cut into Hillary’s lead. Importantly, it is not just that Trump has risen (he has slightly), but it is that Hillary is falling (falling steady for the past few weeks).

    This not just a convention bump. The trend started before the convention and the polling for the convention bump won’t happen until next week.

    We spent all spring watching Trump’s polling doing better and better, and we kept figuring that sooner or later the bottom would drop out because surely, surely this can’t all be real.

    Ladies and gentlemen, it is real.

    • Ryan Ashfyre says:

      I’m just gonna leave this little nugget here for people who’ve forgotten where President Romney stood at about this point in 2012: https://www.washingtonpost.com/politics/president-obama-mitt-romney-deadlocked-in-race-poll-finds/2012/07/09/gJQAaJwdZW_story.html

      Seriously, calm down.

      • Houston-Stay-At-Homer says:

        Ryan, you would be hard pressed to find someone more calm than me.

        I might note that it was you in the previous post talking about how all this is over already, the GOP just doesn’t know it. The changes in demographics…blah, blah, blah. If we want to talk hyperbole, well….

        I’d happily bet you a house payment right now that if the democrats win the Senate in 2016, they will give it right back in 2018. More democrats are up for re-election in tough states and mid-term elections are rarely kind to Democrats.

        The hugely obvious things to you don’t seem to be obvious to the majority of states with GOP governors and state legislatures, to say nothing of the very comfortable GOP majority in the House.

        It is possible that all these folks are just stupid people who will die off, but it is also possible that you don’t understand those people quite as well as you think you might.

      • Ryan Ashfyre says:

        >] “I might note that it was you in the previous post talking about how all this is over already, the GOP just doesn’t know it. The changes in demographics…blah, blah, blah. If we want to talk hyperbole, well….

        Homer, in the broad scheme of things, it is already over. Barring a complete political earthquake, Republicans have no shot at the presidency this year or in the immediate future. That’s not just me or Lifer saying it or anyone else here. You’re hearing that increasingly from Republicans all over the country. George W. Bush himself has been heard saying, and I quote: “I’m worried that I may be the last Republican president”.

        >] “I’d happily bet you a house payment right now that if the democrats win the Senate in 2016, they will give it right back in 2018. More democrats are up for re-election in tough states and mid-term elections are rarely kind to Democrats.

        That is certainly a possibility if Democrats only win a modest majority this November. I agree with you wholeheartedly in that case. If they really rack up the score though and win around ten seats, then they hold on through 2018.

        >] “The hugely obvious things to you don’t seem to be obvious to the majority of states with GOP governors and state legislatures, to say nothing of the very comfortable GOP majority in the House.

        Homer, the shift is already underway if you know where to look. Demographics have already put Georgia in play on the federal level with Arizona not being far behind. That would be bad enough for Republicans, but the nightmare scenario for them can be summed up in George Will’s recent article about how Texas isn’t as red as people might think and it could very well turn blue, perhaps sooner than you think.

        https://www.washingtonpost.com/opinions/will-texas-become-another-brick-in-the-democrats-blue-wall/2016/07/20/08b55f5e-4de0-11e6-a422-83ab49ed5e6a_story.html

        Yes, a majority of states have Republican legislatures and governors. They have a very strong majority in the House (though they have nothing to show for it) and a fair majority in the Senate. All true, no doubt. I’m just here to tell you that if you look at things in the long-term. as things stand, it’s just not going to last. Republicans like Lindsey Graham, Bruce Bartlett, David Frum and others know it, so if you have an objection, then you tell me, specifically, why you think that’s wrong.

      • 1mime says:

        Ryan, you rebut so convincingly. Is your interest in politics springing from a professional political background or just highly read, interested point of view? Your confidence in your predictions is so strong that it appears like you’re a pro. I like your reasoning just trying to figure out where you’re coming from.

      • Ryan Ashfyre says:

        >] “Ryan, you rebut so convincingly. Is your interest in politics springing from a professional political background or just highly read, interested point of view? Your confidence in your predictions is so strong that it appears like you’re a pro. I like your reasoning just trying to figure out where you’re coming from.

        Nothing even close to a pro, mime, just interested in politics and picking up things little by little as I go along.

        If I come across as confident, it’s because, as I’ve mentioned before, I love arguing and being passionate in what I’m talking about. I wasn’t always that way, but I slowly built myself up, little by little, by engaging with people and forging that sense of confidence that let me stand on equal ground with them. I honestly believe I’ve come a long way to where I am now, though I’m always hungry to become even stronger and expand my knowledge and reasoning as far as it can go.

        You’re not wrong when you say I sound confident. I am and I believe I’m right, though I don’t want that to be confused for overconfidence. Frankly, shit happens in politics and you never know if a proverbial sucker punch is going to come out of nowhere to throw you for a loop. But you can’t stand around worrying about things like that and not do your best to recognize the world around you and make the best guess that you can. Have a strong and active faith in yourself, but always be ready to accept when you’re wrong and learn everything you can from it.

        Well, that’s about my mindset as best as I can sum it up. 🙂

      • 1mime says:

        That is very positive, Ryan. Thanks for sharing.

    • vikinghou says:

      As we’ve been saying, Democrats must never become complacent. However, there isn’t much consensus between various groups predicting the election outcome. For example, the NYT Upshot column currently gives Hillary a 76% chance of winning.

      http://www.nytimes.com/2016/07/20/upshot/hillary-clinton-has-a-76-percent-chance-to-win-the-presidency.html

      Concerning what happened to Kerry, I suppose Benghazi and the e-mails are the new Swift-Boating. Hillary must find a way to fight back hard to avoid suffering the same fate.

      • 1mime says:

        People keep focusing on the contribution differential…which is closing, and lest anyone forget, Sheldon Adelson has not weighed in, and he has been quoted as saying he would commit up to $100M to this election. Since he and Trump are buds, he may be waiting to drop his wad until later in the process, making the Clinton campaign gasp. Trump is campaigning on the cheap as well. He is using all the free media to great financial advantage whereas Clinton has had to spend big to both compete against Sanders and try to prepare for the long haul. This is going to be one heck of an expensive election…..Let us hope only in $ and sense.

    • tuttabellamia says:

      So, HT, I guess this is not the time to make a statement by voting third party. We can’t afford the luxury of throwaway votes.

      • Houston-Stay-At-Homer says:

        Tutt…in Texas, i think voting third party can be a fine endeavor, and that is probably true in 40 states. However, in the 10 closest states, you kind of have to vote for Hillary unless you want to risk a Trump presidency.

    • Rob Ambrose says:

      Still a lot of time left. Trump is not going to come off the debates (if he even attends) looking good. There’s only two of them there, and Hillary has the right to respond to every attack, so Trump won’t be able to get away with his false attack lines, which comprise basically 95% of his entire arsenal.

      • Houston-Stay-At-Homer says:

        Rob, there were a few hundred (or thousand) folks who thought Trump would get beat up in the GOP debates. When he did well, they said it was because there were too many candidates on stage. He continued to do well as that number got smaller. He did fine against Cruz and Rubio at the end with very few people on stage.

        Debate formats are goofy things, and they can negotiate some odd formats that can somewhat play to Trump’s strengths.

        Besides, I would bet that 75% of the debate’s impact is in the soundbites and media attention afterwards, and I think we would be hard pressed to find a candidate better than Trump at media attention and sound bites.

      • 1mime says:

        This will make the moderators’ roles critical. He cannot be allowed to deflect. I am interested to see who they will be. The only one I thought was tough as nails with Trump was Megyn Kelly and with things so in flux at Fox News right now, who knows who will be sitting in the catbird seat.

        Trump needs to be grilled like Hillary was grilled by the House Oversight Committee. Anything less and it will be patently unfair but the damage will be done. These are “must win” for HRC.

      • Houston-Stay-At-Homer says:

        There has never been a debate like Hillary testifying in front of congress, and there won’t be a debate like that in this cycle either. Even Hillary wouldn’t agree to such a thing.

        This is a made for TV world, and the candidate on the other side is a TV star.

      • 1mime says:

        Maybe, Homer, but it ought to at least be responsible broadcasting. Moderators can and should hold the candidates to a high standard of responses. The people of America don’t look upon these debates at a TV show, they want information. No one would broadcast it if it didn’t help ratings, but can’t they be more substantive? As important as this position is to our country, it should compel hard questioning and follow ups if the candidates equivocate or deflect – either/any of them. It’s just too important.

      • 1mime says:

        Businesses have been voting with their feet in states which actively discriminate. American voters have the same responsibility.

        http://www.cnn.com/2016/07/21/us/nba-all-star-game-move/index.html

      • 1mime says:

        So you don’t have to watch Trump’s acceptance speech tonight (unless you must), here’s the transcript:

        http://www.chron.com/politics/election/national/article/Leaked-script-Trump-to-declare-I-am-your-voice-8401984.php

      • flypusher says:

        “This is a made for TV world, and the candidate on the other side is a TV star.”

        But this time he doesn’t get control of the script. And his control of his temper isn’t very good. Let Hillary get under that thin skin, and it’s popcorn time.

        Won’t matter to the base if he looks un-Presidential, but the GOPe types who endorsed him need to squirm more. To be disgusted or frightened into “voting their consciences”. The ballot is secret.

  17. nacinla says:

    Good summary. Here’s your next assignment: Write a (fantasy) forecast of what things will look like if/when Trump wins. This is a race like we’ve not seen before, and we Democrats could be in for a shock.

    • nacinla,

      NPR had a segment this afternoon about what trump would/could do his first 100 day without congress. reverse obama’s administrative orders concerning the environment, plan for the wall, reverse all lgbt protections within the government, help coal, fire people, stuff like that.

      also, the feeling was his biggest advisors would be his children.

      • n1cholas says:

        The dream of every oligarch is to be the founding member of an aristocratic dynasty.

      • 1mime says:

        Who wants to be President when you can be King?

      • n1cholas says:

        If the rumor that Strongman Jr. offered Kasich the “most powerful VP ever” position, then it looks more and more like the Game of Thrones, where the King is off whoring and drinking while the Hand of the King is tasked with running the show.

        That said, I’ve been calling the ruling class oligarchs for over a decade, because they are oligarchs in any sense of the word, and they all, clearly, want to create an aristocracy. Strongman Jr. and the rest of the family are proof of it.

      • tuttabellamia says:

        So, the Trumps are the new Borgias?

        Interestingly, I once compared Donald Trump to Rodrigo Borgia (Pope Alexander VI), who was a disgrace to the Catholic Church (even then) and was rumored to have stomped on the Holy Host during Mass.

        Also, Borgia was rumored to have had an unnatural interest in his own daughter Didn’t Trump say he would date his daughter?

        Ok, maybe I’ve gone too far with the comparisons, but still . . . it’s interesting to speculate.

      • nacinla says:

        Yes; there’s a lot he could do just on his own. My original suggestion, though, was for a forecast of what might happen to the party, since I think it’s largely intact at the local and state levels and the base would generally like what he would do. A huge, YUGE, achievement would be the repeal of Obamacare. That in itself would cement part of his legacy. He could do that, install a new Supreme Court justice and then bolt after 90 days or so and return to the life of a celebrity. To my mind, he doesn’t have the temperament to settle down in a role that would require him to take his mind off himself for even five minutes, act like an adult, absorb facts and collaborate on a solution. Loose cannons are incapable of that. It’s like with addicts: It’s not so much the high sometimes as the acquisition of the high, and he’s all about acquiring. He would acquire the presidency, then move on.

  18. Stephen says:

    I hope this is not your swan song. You are one smart political scientist. The internet is full of people’s opinions but it is rare to find someone who knows what they are talking about.

    • vikinghou says:

      I agree. Chris, perhaps you can rename your blog “GOP in Exile.”

    • Let me second this comment. I for one have never found a writer who so perfectly expresses how I feel on the current system as GOPLife. Your posts are great facebook fodder for me – After sharing, it’s funny how many of my Southern white friends will then scream at my about how I’ve become a liberal, and Hillary nonsense, when really its not about Hillary at all, but how one of the two pillars of American democracy has turned from reason and accountability to embrace racism, bigotry, misogyny, and xenophobia. I sincerely hope that you continue to blog, even if in self-imposed “exile”.

  19. flypusher says:

    The first thing that popped into my brain on seeing the title- remembering how Trent Lott took a political fall for his Birthday toast for Thurmond- about how the country would have been better off had he been elected President back in ’48.

    I shudder to think.

    • 1mime says:

      Did you know that Trent Lott (and John Breaux) are the highest paid former members of Congress serving on lobbying firms? He parlayed his political career quite nicely…probably thankful he made such a faux pas (Thurmond toast) that he backed into a more lucrative career….

  20. Kebe says:

    Best… summary… ever. Since the 1992 convention (Damn you Pat Buchanan) I’ve felt an unease that has pointed me to your near-identical conclusion here. Thanks Lifer.

  21. 1mime says:

    Lifer, will need time to read all the links and put the post in context, but it is a wonderful primer for how history, culture and politics have evolved. I know this is a bittersweet time for you but do hope you will continue to blog.

    The H. Chronicle has an article in today’s paper about a GOP precinct chairman in Houston who resigned. His name is William Morris, and he stated: “For the first time in my life, as a Republican, I’m ashamed to say that I’m a Republican because of Trump – all of the people he’s insulted, everything that has come out of his mouth,” said Morris, a 71 year old retired community relations professional. “I want no part of it. That is not me”.

    You are not alone.

  22. Lifer,

    A great post! What bothers me more than anything else is our nation needs two strong political parties. Each party, left to their own devices, their own inclinations, will come up and pass some of the craziest ideas! The Republican party, if they go the way you say they will, and I am not sure this will happen eventually, will be deserting the country.

    That said, the Republicans still have a lot going for them. They have gerrymandering, which gives them the House for years to come. And they have the complacency of Democrats. who for some reason do not seem to be inclined to vote in off years!

    That said, there does not seem to be much for people like myself, and maybe you, to look forward to!

  23. tuttabellamia says:

    Off topic by now (Ted Cruz’s speech is already old news), but I wanted to applaud Lifer for his clever title for the previous blog entry, calling Ted Cruz a “true son of . . . the Alamo.”

  24. Rob Ambrose says:

    I know sometimes we can get bogged down in the massive amount of nonsense Trump soews and kind of become immune to it. It’s important sometimes though to slow down and reread some of the things he says. They’re insane. And I don’t mean insane in the sense that it’s coherent , just something that is bad policy, as in “the GOP policy of no abortion even in the case of rape or incest is insane”.

    I mean insane as in, if you said ” good morning!” to someone and they responded “purple monkey dishwasher!!! Arghhhhhhhhkdjdhshsvbeben!!”

    http://gawker.com/the-words-that-emerge-from-donald-trumps-mouth-seem-to-1784030309

    Also, isn’t it funny how Trump always has “friends” with anecdotes that always perfectly support his positions? From the “Mexican friends who think the wall is just the best idea!” To the Muslims who call HIM up to tell him how much he appreciates his demonization of their entire religion. To this absurd story about his friend in Mexico who is just booming with his “plant design” business.

    Even the way he tells the story sounds like a lie a 5 y/o tells you about who actually are that last cookie, clearly making it up as he goes along.

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