Tuesday, August 11, 2015

Trump extremism and the state of the Republcian Party

This piece from Dan Drezner focuses on the economics of conservative media: Why Donald Trump got the best of Fox News Washington Post 08/11/2015.

But it's also a reminder about how strong the mainstream media groupthink on politics is. Our pod pundits all assume that "America is a center-right country" (as they say all the time); that they themselves are spokespeople for this sacred moderation (the High Broderism phenomenon); that the two parties are symmetrically grouped around the sacred center (Both Sides Do It so Bernie Sanders must be the mirror image of Donald Trump); and that there are always sensible moderates (like the bold Maverick John McCain) to balance off the more flamboyant loudmouths like Trump. They ignore the real Republican elephant in the room, which is that the Republican Party has lost its mind (as Krugman puts it). More specifically, their fanaticism and overt meanness is growing by the year and there seems to be no obvious internal corrective to it within the party.

Pundits who imagine the stone-conservative and mean John McCain as a moderate maverick were astonished that Republican base didn't see things like that.

Of course, the Republican base voters love Trump's attacks on women and immigrants, the latter also doubling as attacks on black people. And as the Republican Party becomes more fanatical, the pundits' imaginary Both Sides Do It assumption helps move the "center" more and more into the crazy lane. The "moderate" position on abortion in the Republican Party now seems to be banning abortion in all circumstances but, maybe possibly having an exception for saving the life of the mother.

Steve M shows how Trump is also ramping it up on war: Will Trump Make the War Party Even More Warlike? No More Mister Nice Blog 08/11/2015. Quoting a more-or-less unhinged rant of Trump's about bombing Iran to fight ISIS, or something, Steve M writes (emphasis in original):

Do you think any Republican candidate, at any debate, could say anything that would get a greater round of applause than this? The cheers will go on for several minutes. It will be next to impossible to silence the crowd. Within 48 hours there'll be "Knock the Hell Out of Them and Take Their Oil" T-shirts, and they'll be huge sellers. And this from the guy who still says -- in the clip, in fact -- that he opposed the Iraq War.

He's going to be the guy who makes multiple full-scale wars in the Middle East the minimal acceptable position for Jeb Bush, or whoever the eventual nominee is -- none of the intermediate steps the other candidates have proposed will be acceptable. No wussy increased aid to foreign fighters. None of this mamby-pamby talk about merely tightening the sanction screws on Iran. Oh, and no more coddling Saudi Arabia, either, I guess. "Kill 'em all" might really be the policy the eventually nominee will have to take into the general election, the way "deport 'em all" usually is on immigration.
There are a lot of things about campaigns, especially Presidential campaigns, that have to come together. TVs ads and outrageous comments to the press won't be enough. Trump's campaign will have to put together a "ground game" in the primary states if he's actually going to get the Republican nomination. So the odds against his becoming the Republican candidate are still high.

But he's already pushing the "Overton Window" even more to the right within the Republican Party.

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