It is probably foolish to pronounce something dead before it has died. This is normally something us people from Chicago reserve for Cubs and Bears seasons. (The Bears season is over.) The polls as of this writing are showing Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump in a dead heat. I don’t believe that is the way things are going to play out. (Since I started writing this, Hillary has pulled comfortably into the lead and Trump has fired all of his handlers. Unless I am mistaken, this is the third reboot.) Although no one has ever gone broke underestimating the taste of the American public, there is no margin in ignoring the masses’ ability to perform volume and quality evaluations. In short, Trump is going to lose huge, probably whisking the GOP out of the Senate along the way. He’s going to make Goldwater and Mondale look competitive.
All of this assumes, of course, Hillary not totally blowing it. That itself is no sure thing. I personally am surrounded by Trump supporters. Or people who are voting against Hillary. My own ‘people I know’ poll shows something of an even split. But I am not sure how many of these people are going to vote and how many are just giving lip service to it. In the end, I believe the general election will turn out in much the way the primaries did. Hillary is a closer who Borgs up all of the good ideas. Trump is a yahoo magnet who cannot go a week without a serious error. Hillary’s own capacity for miscalculation and Crime Expose is the sole wildcard factor. Trump has a fixed ceiling of support since there’s only so many nut cases in this country. Barring something emerging from Pandora’s box of bad, Hillary should wipe the slate clean.
Which does not leave much of a future for the Republican Party—other than the one defined for it by the current Speaker of the House: to be a credible alternative to the Democrats. This, by the way, has been the Republican Party’s only significant bit of tradecraft through most of its history. It only became the party of the rich and the well educated in recent decades. And for a lot of the party’s history, it was actually the home of the Progressive movement. The Republicans only lost progressivism once it became popular. The general modern division between the parties is that the Republicans have been more prone to offering candidates who have some demonstrable real world achievement whereas the Democrats show up with either professional politicians or some person who embodies the values of the common man. This may be more posture than practice, since both sides are dominated by professionals no matter how they are packaged.
The attribution of political power is not trivial. Politics is not bean bag. That it requires a certain standard of moxie and professionalism should come as no shock. We have effectively two political parties in this country for the same reason that there are only two or three firms which dominate each of our industrial sectors. Both parties are wildly and broadly successful. Sadly, one party, the Democrats, are about to become so wildly successful that it endangers the entire political marketplace.
More Heat Than Light. Toss out the wedge issues for a moment. This election, this time in political history, has only one major issue: Globalism. This is not something that a politician, a political party or even a single nation has the fitness to do anything about. It is an issue awaiting a global consensus. What consensus there is goes something along the lines of: the net effect of globalism is to concentrate wealth in the hands of undeserving actors at the expense of the majority. The majority would like a better split—as would the governments who largely gain their resources from the majority. A symptomatic approach—treating wealth inequality—is now a part of the package offered by both of our political parties, and by all political actors in the developed world.
Yepsters, that’s what they are selling. A big box of that. Unfortunately, there’s nothing in the box. The box has no instructions on it. Even our FDA would flag it for false claims. Whatever is supposed to treat inequality and a lack of fairness should have some ingredients. This is what stumped the Republican Party. This is why they lost to Bozo the Trump and his barbarians at the gate.
The Democrats have no solution, either, but are far better charlatans. The net negative effects of globalization are caused by advancements in technology and the free flow of capital. (These are also the factors which produce its various nice stuff.) Right now the system is rigged to pay off mostly to the people who finance it all, fairly much at the expense of everyone else. As world problems go, this isn’t a bad one to have. (Beats famine or plague by a country mile.) We seem to be within spitting distance of having the material means to provide a dignified, sustainable standard of living for all of humanity. Thanks to man’s imagination all of this is now probable to the point of being inevitable. That the 1% “finance people” should not net 99% of the rewards is an outstanding consensus, a triumph of the Judeo-Christian ethic. It’s a pity our action plan doesn’t have the plausible outline of a step one yet.
The Democratic Party’s solution: raise the minimum wage to $15.00 an hour. End of solution. I’m not sure what this is going to do, other than make everyone who earns 30K a year feel like a piker… and drive mechanization into the lawn care and restaurant industries. There’s also some muttering about breaking up banks and taxing assets and what-have-you, but none of it is too thought out. And don’t expect anything dramatic from Moderate Clinton. She knows her limits. She’s going to fix healthcare and focus on kid’s issues.
(And God bless her for being so reasonable about the limits of political power. When it comes to the Globalism issue, why show up to a fire you can’t put out?)
The Trump Solution: Screw trade! Build a wall. Dig a hole. Deport the deportable members of the underclass (Mexicans). Make blacks take the jobs the Mexicans vacated. To describe the intellectual underpinnings of this approach is to give it too much credit. It’s very a macho four-year-old having a tantrum, but it falls short of a philosophy. It has more Gusto than a $15.00 minimum wage, but it is on the same plateau of thinking.
Missing here from the dialog is the actual Republican argument. And it is the big loser in this debate. That it has lost, drown in its own bathwater, is the final contention that the Republicans are going to have to come to grips with. Or they face a future as a political vanity press for the next folksy billionaire wishing to start his political career at the top.
(In Illinois, the birthplace of the Republican Party, it is little more than a vanity press for the rich already.)
What lost is Conservatism. Maybe it’s about time. Conservatism brought us two major banking disasters. Conservatism failed to protect the country from terrorism. Conservatism allowed New Orleans to be swept off the map. Conservatism brought us two stupid and useless wars. Although it’s not entirely to blame for our currently diminished circumstances, it is not the solution and has been of no demonstrable help.
We can go on about what Conservatism is at length. There are some fundamentally wonderful ideas bound up in Conservatism. At its heart is an enshrinement of empirical evidence and pragmatism, a love for what works best under real world conditions. It has consideration for what has gone before, a recognition of the achievements of uniquely Western Civilization. Because of the high value it places on historically proven mechanisms, Conservatism is notoriously slow-footed. First, do no harm. Avoid blowback. Preserve what works. If changes need to be made, implement them in increments and with finesse. All in all, not a bad approach.
If you are having your house painted, you want a Conservative. If your house is on fire, you want a Liberal. Thankfully, with most political issues, the house is usually not on fire. In the case of an actual fire, both Conservatives and Liberals do the same thing. It’s in the after fire events where you see a dichotomy of thought.
There is a line of thinking that Conservatism is merely a reaction to the bloat of Progressivism, now called Liberalism. Progressives really are an amalgamation with no real set fundamental superstructure beliefs, other than the increase of inclusion and the conversion of privileges into rights. Mechanisms be damned, the Liberals are playing an outcome game. Results by fiat, rigging outcomes, is their sport. An aversion to this rigging, an aversion to the whole lot of it, is the impulse driving the Conservative cause. Much of what the Conservative tout as core values are essentially eyewash for protecting White privilege. That said, the overall Conservative case is hard to refute. All strata of man’s endeavors function most efficiently when there is an open competition between free actors—that the race should go to the fast and the battle to the strong.
We can nit-pick both sides. I don’t want to deal in equivalences here. Liberalism is not dead. Conservatism is dead. The cause of death is that it has nothing to offer the average citizen. Mitt Romney fairly much spit out its epitaph during his famous secretly videoed speech. Buffeted by the winds of globalism, the average worker has demanded his fair share of the spoils and the Conservative message has been nowhere. Instead the masses have been offered a counter-commentary on each Liberal outcome rigging scheme, all along the lines of “If we do that, we will be France” or “If we do that, we will be just like England.” As if England and France were bad places--or as if we have it somehow better than the citizens of those countries.
Enough said, it’s dead. Unless the Republican Party wants a parade of Trumps, or something worse, it needs to get back to a model that works. Like all long lived entities, the Republican Party is a hollow edifice. It stands for what the people inside it make it stand for. The party’s cause for being was abolition, as in the abolition of slavery. Since then it’s had a nice run, first as the bulwark of Progressive causes and then simply as a champion of private property rights, a counterweight against collectivism. The current standards of the Republican Party have become dated, almost dooming it to permanent decline. In order to keep it viable, I am proposing a pruning of bloat. My intention is to preserve the Republican Party’s distinctions while putting it on an attractive footing. The model is derived from historical example.
A. Better Man Rule. Our guy has some real world accomplishments. He is an outstanding citizen. (He can also be a seasoned and outstanding politician, if need be.) Remember, our objective is to preserve the Republican Party as a viable alternative to the Democrats. Democrats show up with a guy who is somehow mystically reflective of the entire human condition. The best way for the Republicans to counter this is by showing up with someone who is ‘a leader’. Sadly, the Better Man Rule has been replaced by a litany of Conservative Check Marks. Ideological purity is not an accomplishment.
B. Pragmatism. Bobby Kennedy famously spouted “I dream of things that never were and ask why not.” The Republicans need to define themselves in 100% opposition to that statement. Real World solutions is the new brand. It’s a counter to the pie in the sky nonsense thrown out routinely by the collectivists. Big ideas are usually big monsters. We’re all for scaling up ideas which work, but they need to be proven. Pragmatism is the hammer to replace Conservatism. It is the only hammer that the party needs.
C. Cleaner Than a Cat’s Mouth. This is really an offset from point A, but it has been a problem of late. A lot of Republican candidates have been bad actors. No wife-beating sex party tape fly dumpers, please. Our person has to be someone the public feels comfortable about employing. Now saints do not go into politics, but if you are on your third wife and made your living in the coal tar ocean disposal business, just vote Republican—don’t run for office. This is a must have.
All three are really Must Haves—and a considerable and sustainable distinction from the Democrats. Those are the three poles of the Big Ten, something Honest Abe and the Millennial’s will be happy with. If the Republican Party follows this design, it will have a future. If it sticks with various remnants of the Ronald Reagan Nostalgia Act, Tyrant Trump is just the start of what will be a very fast fade into obscurity.