Wednesday, June 01, 2016

Are there really still sensible Republican opinion leaders out there?

I've referred several times here to what I've called the one decent piece of political analysis I've ever heard of David Frum making: "while Republican politicians fear their base, Democratic pols hate theirs." (Gibbs on the Left FrumForum 08/10/2010)

I may have also called it the one true thing David Frum ever said.

But I guess I have to amend that, now. Because he's just written this, "Trump is running not to be president of all Americans, but to be the clan leader of white Americans. Those white Americans who respond to his message hear his abusive comments, not as evidence of his unfitness for office, but as proof of his commitment to their tribe." (The Seven Broken Guardrails of Democracy The Atlantic 05/31/2016)

Digby Parton comments at some length on Frum's article in “The clan leader of white Americans”: Conservative David Frum perfectly explains how the disintegration of the GOP has created Trump Salon 06/01/2016.

At this point, I'm restraining my enthusiasm for Republicans like Frum who are criticizing Trump. Because Trump provides a desublimated version of what the Republicans have been preaching and practicing for decades. There's no question that Trump is stunningly unsuited to be President.

Charlie Pierce makes pitches on both sides of this perspective in Why Do So Many Conservative Thought Leaders Claim Trump Appeared from Thin Air? and Donald Trump Spent a Portion of His Day Reading the Mind of a Dead Gorilla, both in Esquire Politics Blog 05/31/2016.

But I worry because one of the deep-seated practices associated with the problem referenced in the Frum quote at the start of this post is that when Republicans lose, they conclude afterwards that the problem is they weren't conservative enough. Unfortunately, when the Democrats lose, they also conclude afterwards that the problem is they weren't conservative enough. And the venom which the Clinton campaign and the Democratic establishment have directed against Bernie Sanders this year is a sign to me that the same regrettable tendency is still at work in the Democratic Party.

A bad Republican candidate like Trump should be occasion for the Democratic Party to build a mandate, sharpen the Democratic brand, and create a significant voter realignment.

But this is still the Democratic Party we're talking about. And Hillary Clinton with her current Stronger Together slogan with the accompanying talk about working "across the aisle" with those nice Republicans makes me think the Democrats are going to try to go instead for the "bipartisan" coalition that Obama has always sought.

The principal danger [of increasing rightwing radicalization in the Republican Party] has always been of a kind of political gravitational pull: the more extremist ideologies creep into the mainstream, the more they transform the nature of the mainstream. An excellent example of this effect is the Southern Strategy initially deployed by Richard Nixon in 1968 and 1972. Its long-term effect was to transform the GOP from the party of Lincoln to the party of Strom Thurmond, from a bastion of progressivity on race to the home of neo-Confederates who argue for modern secession and a return co white supremacy.
That was Dave Neiwert writing in 2009 in The Eliminationists: How Hate Talk Radicalized the American Right.