Ornstein and Mann: The Republicans waged a 3-decade war on government. They got Trump. – Vox

Trumpist populists inside and outside Washington will attribute any Trump loss to the perfidy of the party establishment. Aided by the bevy of cable TV hosts, talk radio impresarios, and bloggers who thrive on chaos — they will spread the belief that Americans have been betrayed both by Democrats and by weak-kneed and corrupt Republican establishment leaders. They will continue to push nativist and protectionist policies.

And the establishment itself, divided over its level of support for Trump, battered by a horrible political year, targeted both by the purists and the populists, will have little traction to craft the kinds of policies that both fit its broader philosophy and can achieve meaningful compromises with Democrats.

Unfortunately, what will likely emerge a few months into the Clinton presidency is a deep desire by Republicans to recapture the party mojo by once again prevailing in the forthcoming 2018 midterm elections — by using the old scorched-earth strategies. Following the road maps of 2010 and 2014, party leaders will want to demonize the president, delegitimize Washington and the policy process, and block any meaningful policy action that could lead to a Clinton signing ceremony — feeding the anger of the grassroots.

That could once again result in both sizable GOP gains in the House and a renewed Republican majority in the Senate, but it would also mean a repeat of the vicious cycle that led to Trump in the first place.

5 comments on “Ornstein and Mann: The Republicans waged a 3-decade war on government. They got Trump. – Vox

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  1. As good a summary of the current proceedings and their history as I’ve seen.

    Maybe it’s a too obvious point, but I was surprised by not explicitly discussing the Jacobin cleansing of the party of RINO’s. In 2008, after O took office, ID-ing RINO’s seemed a pervasive activity where ever R’s gathered on or off line. With the process as complete as it could be without actual violence, the need for the insult has all but disappeared.

    Now the party itself is itself Republican in name only. It’s a ham handed irony worthy of any in O. Henry or the Twilight Zone.

    • What “Republican in Name Only” could ever have meant, on the level of policy, was never entirely clear and stable, but it seemed to mean, above all, “willing to compromise,” and was trucked out especially by opponents of John McCain – who, of course, in another fitting irony, became the party’s standard-bearer. By now, we don’t know what “Republican” means. There’s a struggle ongoing over how to define the term. If Republicans themselves had had a better idea, they might have been able to resist the Trump takeover.

      One key question for the Dems is whether they can turn the Trump crisis into a true crisis of the Republican Party at the level of ’08, when it was blameable for twin foreign policy and economic policy disasters and gave up the House and Senate. Mann and Ornstein take the position that that Rs can and will repeat the Obama Era strategy of lockstep opposition, to roughly similar effect, and without ever having to go through a 2009 period of being unable to stop the Dems from legislating. Mann and Ornstein also leave open the possibility that the strategy will ultimately fail, producing some type of realignment (whether or not “in name”).

      David Frum, whom Mann and Ornstein mention, seems still to hope that this November will be sufficiently chastening to move Rs to a new strategy. It would only take a small faction of Rs willing to break ranks to move a slim House majority out of blocking position on significant legislation.

      To the dismay of some “Reformicons,” the Dems via Obama and Clinton seem to have gone to the left instead of offering a kind of national unity/grand coalition approach to the populist upsurge. Instead of giving despondent Republicans something in exchange for splitting forcefully and openly with Trumpism as the fruits of “True Conservatism,” the Dems seem to prefer to damage the Republican Party as much as possible, while offering nothing for Reformicons to grab onto, turning the Fall elections into a mandate for another round or progressive policymaking (and appointments). If the tactic fails, and 2017-18 is two more years of political paralysis, then an early Republican recovery may stand as just deserts.

  2. I have a hard time taking the reformicons seriously on either policy or politics. The quest for “conservative solutions” seems to stress the conservative part to the exclusion of the solution part. O Care as an erstwhile reformicon policy idea becomes unacceptable as soon as its acceptable. The rest of their agenda such as it exist is tax cuts and deregulation.

    And Boehner seemed to never to be able to deliver his caucus after making a deal. They need to improve their political muscle to entice any D shift to the center.

    B Clinton moved right to make liberalism conceptually palatable again. The Rs can’t expect the Ds to do all the heavy lifting and then get anywhere.

    H Clinton has her own worries needing to protect her left flank from the Bern-ers. The reformicons need to give her something to work with.

    Not to minimize the breathtaking leap of faith this would require.

    But hey, it aint’t beanbag.

    • If the Ds can’t split the Rs via carrots, then the alternative is sticks. Since the Ds haven’t been able to punish the Rs for obstructing liberal policy – like Obama’s never-enacted jobs programs of both terms – that leaves liberals looking elsewhere for “progress,” and otherwise playing defense while awaiting the next crisis.

      It may be worth noting that when Rs have the presidency, and an economic downturn occurs, they relax their opposition to Keynesianism, while preferring tax cuts and “trickle down” to “social spending.” Could be that next time around, after the Trump implosion, it will be easier to fight against that Club for Growth approach.

      An effectively left-liberal populism with an appeal to the “forgotten middle class” was in the old Bill-Clinton repertoire. I think you could read “forgotten middle class” and much else in “New Democrat” as an appeal to win back “Reagan Democrats” – or, bluntly, the white working class. Clinton had little need of it as the ’90s progressed, and as left-liberalism proceeded somewhat on its prior course instead, replacing the WWC instead of restoring it, and helping to create the current gridlocked pattern. It could be that, for the obvious reason, Hillary Clinton or other Dems would find it easier (which is not the same as simply easy) to strike that chord, eventually, than Obama ever could.

  3. One of the flies in the ointment for any group intending to actually govern is trade policy. Manufacturing is not going to be the basis of a healthy middle class ever again. Even if we grow this sector somewhat, the wages simply are no longer what they were.

    Cyborg repair (ie medical care) becomes the closest replacement, but the good jobs require much more education than old school manufacturing did. And CR probably doesn’t have the potential to employ as great a percentage of people in the workforce as manufacturing did at an American Dream level.

    Hill mentions this from time to time, (her coal comments) but any politician talking seriously about this is going to get into trouble. The AmDream jobs are just not going to keep pace to sustain a 50’s, 60’s middle class. (At some point, not sure where, I saw a mash up of Trump and Archie Bunker. It worked well enough, although not as well as the masher-uppers thought it did.)

    I’m not sure how either party figures this out as a feature of their coalition. It’s likely to be one of the structural features that keep unhappy politics careening forward.

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