California Republicans are facing a full-blown disaster as votes continue to be tallied. Consider them the canary in the coal mine for the national party. Yes, there were victories for the GOP on November 8, but the future for an organization that has become little more than an extension of the President’s ego looks bleak.
Much is being made of the obituary written by Kristin Olsen, the vice chair of the California Republican Party, and published as a guest column at CalMatters.
“The California Republican Party isn’t salvageable at this time,” she wrote. “The Grand Old Party is dead — partly because it has failed to separate itself from today’s toxic, national brand of Republican politics.”
Let’s face it, California Republicans haven’t had a good year since 1994. They’ve been shut out of power in the legislature and lost nearly all statewide races. Former Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger, one of the last Republicans to win statewide election, describes the state party as “dying at the box office.”
A 2018 study by the Public Policy Institute of California, a nonpartisan think tank, found that 44 percent of the state’s voters were registered as Democrats, compared with 25 percent registered as Republicans. Of the state’s large block of voters who identify with neither of the two major parties, 47 percent lean to the Democratic Party, and only 28 percent to the Republican. Those numbers have been drifting leftward since the end of the Cold War.
Today, California’s state Legislature, congressional delegation and statewide offices are dominated by Democrats. The key cleavage is more often between moderate and progressive members of the party, with Republicans all but a rounding error.
When it’s all said and done with the tallying of votes, the GOP’s once reliable conservative congressional delegation in Orange county will be gone. If the counting of ballots continues to break against them, just eight of the State’s 53 member delegation to the House of Representatives will be Republican.
Two of the now-losing GOP candidates, namely Kim Young and Mimi Walters, have already made accusations concerning ballot tampering as their leads have dwindled. This mimicking of the Trumpian response to real or imagined defeat speaks to the heart of the reasons for the party’s decline in California, and, ultimately, nationally.
The most visible advocate for the California GOP is now radio talk show host Carl DeMaio, who’s planning on building on the ashes of Proposition 6’s failure by running recall campaigns aimed at getting even for the drubbing he took. DeMaio’s refusal to throw with the nativist core of party advocates and his grating personality also don’t bode well for his future.
Nationally, the GOP has become no more than a front group for a coalition of wealthy libertarians and extreme evangelicals. Its leading advocates split their days between immigrant-bashing and ‘owning the libs,’ working overtime to grab public attention with increasingly irrational missives.
About half the House Districts lost by Republicans in the midterms have not been represented by a Democrat in a quarter of a century or longer.
Senate Majority leader Mitch McConnell–the guy who bragged about leading the effort to sabotage every possible action of the Obama administration– reacted to the Democratic takeover of the House via a Fox News op-ed calling for bi-partisan cooperation. His ghost-writer wasn’t able to get through the piece without name-calling Democrats as “far-left.” The response was predicable.
You kept Democrats off all committees and withheld all information, so no. Go eat worms
— Amy Holden Jones (@aholdenj) November 14, 2018
The reality is previous attempts at bi-partisanship, like the almost-compromise on immigration last year, have been shot down by Dear Leader and his coterie of grifters and racists.
Now word has it the Man With A Plan has retreated “has retreated into a cocoon of bitterness and resentment, according to multiple administration sources.” The President of the United States avoided ceremonial appearances associated with Veteran’s day, and has sloughed off a meeting with Jordan’s King Abdullah, along with ditching a high-profile Asian gathering scheduled for this week.
Even a chance to hob nob with Russian leader Vladimir Putin couldn’t get him out of his doldrums.
From the Washington Post:
Russian President Vladimir Putin will be visiting Singapore for the first time, meeting leaders in a region that is increasingly looking to Moscow for arms purchases and diplomatic protection. Chinese President Xi Jinping will be in Port Moresby for the APEC summit over the weekend, underscoring Beijing’s strategic play in the South Pacific, and will be deploying Chinese Premier Li Keqiang to Singapore to expand a free-trade agreement with the city-state and “upgrade its relationship” with Southeast Asian countries.
After nearly two years in office, President Trump has remade the Republican Party in his own image. You’re either for him or against him. It doesn’t matter what party label you claim.
From the New York Times:
The dark politics of anger, division and fear were on display in campaigns across the country this year, as Republican candidates for Congress and governor — and fringe groups who support them — embraced the racially inflammatory brand of politics that Mr. Trump unleashed in 2016. With the presidential campaign of 2020 effectively underway on Wednesday, there is little reason to think Mr. Trump will back away from a tactic that clearly rallies his base
And as he showed his party in the closing days of the midterms, there may be no way for Republicans to escape his shadow.
“He’s tapped into something really powerful and really ugly in the American electorate,” said Julian E. Zelizer, a historian at Princeton University, “and it’s going to be hard to put that back into the bottle.”
Those Republicans who’ve stayed in the party hoping for better days to come are like people trapped in an abusive relationships. Many would double down in defense of the guy who bloodied their faces rather than admit their partner was a garbage person. Trump apologists will continually deny and disbelieve reporting about from the White House’s downward spiral until the end.
Such diversity with the Republicans! Three of them wear glasses, two have facial hair, and one“female”. pic.twitter.com/kuLAgamrTm
— Sarah💦 (@Sarah_SKG_1983) November 14, 2018
Chances are good when Dear Leader comes out of his funk the people closest (but not related) to him will bear the brunt of his anger, even if his rhetoric takes aim at Democrats.
As never-Trumper Jennifer Rubin explains in the Washington Post, hold on to your seats:
First, Trump will get worse under pressure. If he is this bad now, imagine what he’ll be like if more associates are indicted, the economy goes to seed or the subpoenas start flying. At some point, unless Trump has him fired, special counsel Robert S. Mueller III will issue his report. Unless it miraculously exonerates him, the president may have a meltdown that will make his trip to France look like a picnic.
Second, self-described saviors of the country, such as the anonymous op-ed writer, are deluding themselves if they believe they are preventing the president from harming the country. Daily, he threatens democratic norms, blemishes the United States’ reputation around the world and makes worse and worse personnel decisions in an effort to surround himself with more compliant aides. If Trump fires Defense Secretary Jim Mattis and White House Chief of Staff John F. Kelly, it is not clear how many more erratic decisions will be made or how serious the ramifications may be.
Third, all of this points to the gross irresponsibility of Republicans who, for two years, refused to exercise any oversight and continue to spin on his behalf. They would rather excuse the conduct of an unbalanced and hysterical commander in chief then move to limit his powers (e.g., reassert that a first strike is an act of war requiring congressional authorization, claw back power to enact tariffs). They likely will continue to rubber-stamp his executive branch picks, no matter how unprepared and temperamentally unfit they may be. Even more reprehensible, they will heartily endorse him for reelection while maligning his challengers. Maybe if they see control of the Senate slipping away, they will finally cut him loose.
All of this reminds us that Democratic control of the House is only a halfway measure. Unless and until Trump is out of office, the country, our democracy and our security remain at risk.
There is no future for what’s left of the GOP in this or any similar scenario. Unlike Republicans back in the dark days of Watergate, there are no standards, no values, and no coherent ideology left to build upon.
All that remains is greed, misogyny and racism as its legacy, along with a historic surge in hate crimes.
The FBI announced on Tuesday a disturbing 17 percent increase in reported hate crimes last year. Law enforcement agencies disclosed 7,175 hate crimes in America during 2017, up from 6,121 in 2016. This is the third consecutive year that reported hate crimes have increased, and it’s the single biggest spike since the surge of incidents targeting Muslims in 2001 after the attacks on Sept. 11…
…One especially startling figure: The FBI’s new report shows anti-Semitic hate crimes rose 37 percent in 2017. “The new FBI data comes less than a month after the worst anti-Semitic attack in U.S. history — a shooting at a Pittsburgh synagogue that killed 11 and wounded six,” Devlin Barrett notes. “The suspect in that attack has been charged with dozens of federal hate crimes, and that one incident alone accounted for nearly as many hate crime killings as were recorded all of last year in the United States: 15.”
I’m working on an essay about the “third way” or “new GOP” some envision arising out of this chaos. It will be published when it’s ready.
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