John Ralston (@RalstonReports on Twitter) says that Homeland Security as changed the national threat alert to “Orange”. My advice to everyone is to get a grip and get over it – Trump is the nominee; sitting around in recriminations about just how we got Trump is pointless. Now it is time to move forward.
More than likely, Hillary is the next President. Trump can win it, but he’d have to run a campaign the likes of which we haven’t seen since…well, since the 2016 GOP primary. He’ll have to go entirely outside the box and pull in voters who, until yesterday, never thought of voting Republican. Trouble for Trump is that the polling all says he can’t do that – that his statements to date have permanently alienated so many different demographic blocs that there’s no place for him to go. 95% of normal GOP voters will show up for him, but that won’t be near enough, even though Hillary’s numbers are bound to be down from Obama’s 2012 totals. I’m figuring it 53% Hillary, 47% Trump (Progressive – and anti-Trump Conservative – dreams of Hillary getting to 60% and winning 45 States are just silly; Hillary is just an awful candidate and no one likes her, not even her fellow Democrats…nothing is sure in politics, but with anyone other than Trump at the helm, the GOP would be looking pretty certain for a win in November). If polling is correct, Trump won’t be able to do it…but if polling is wrong, then we could be in for interesting times. And by “wrong” I don’t mean that someone is screwing up at polling – I mean that if there is a large bloc of Americans who (a) can’t stand the system, (b) usually don’t vote because they think both Democrats and Republicans are corrupt and (c) get excited about Trump as a grenade to throw into the political system, then polling simply won’t pick up on that, at least not any time soon.
Trump as the likely losing nominee will do damage to the overall Republican effort. But it might not be catastrophic. Thirty GOP Senators aren’t even up for re-election, and of those who are about fifteen are pretty safe, so even if Hillary does well, the GOP will drop to about 45 Senators (which would still be a net gain of 10 for them – not bad by anyone’s measure)…more than enough to sustain a filibuster. But that is if things go really well for the Democrats. I suspect the GOP will lose seats in FL, IL, PA, WI and NH. That is five, and it only gets the Democrats to 50, with Hillary’s VP casting the tie breaker. But, the GOP still could win Reid’s seat in NV, but could also lose it’s seats in MO and LA. The real worst for the GOP is 52/48, in my view…but with a bit of luck and some good campaign work, the GOP could actually retain a Senate majority even if Hillary wins (if the GOP loses those 5, but wins Reid’s seat, it is 51/49 GOP).
In the House, the Democrats could possibly score a majority, but it would take just about everything breaking their way. If Trump is really an utter disaster, then the House is in play – if it comes out like I suspect (Hillary winning by about 6 percentage points, that is), then the House is probably safe for the GOP, though losing a dozen seats would be rather baked in. If the Democrats do win a House majority, then it will likely be a pretty thin one – we’re talking maybe 220 House Dems and 215 House GOPers (getting to 220, by the way, means the Democrats net a gain of 30 – that’s a lot).
But fret not – if Hillary does great and Trump melts down in a 1964-style wipe out of the GOP and the Democrats go to 58 in the Senate and 230 in the House, it is only for two years. With Hillary being disastrously in charge (she will fail, utterly – she’s no good; not bright; horrible at policy; terrible at politics…) and the 2018 map exceptionally favorable to the GOP, it is pretty sure that the GOP will roar back to the Congressional majority in that year.
But what sort of GOP comes roaring back? That is the question. Don’t mistake this at all: Trump has radically altered the GOP. This is no longer Reagan’s party – it’s not really Trump’s, but it isn’t the party most of us have grown used to since 1980.
For us Conservatives, the task ahead is to craft a response to, on the one hand, the lure of Big Government Progressivism and, on the other hand, the lure of Big Government Nationalism. Hillary is the former, Trump is the latter. We all know that Big Government is a failure – but it is not yet a concrete, absolute failure in the minds of the American majority. Things are still bearable – and as Jefferson pointed out in a document Americans used to be familiar with, “experience hath shewn, that mankind are more disposed to suffer, while evils are sufferable, than to right themselves by abolishing the forms to which they are accustomed”. People are accustomed to the forms we have at present – but the forms at present are failing in every department. We need new forms (well, more actually, to restore the old forms…but they’ll appear new) – but we have yet to convince the American people of the necessity.
Hillary (or Trump, should be pull off the win) may be just the thing necessary to demonstrate to the American majority the bankruptcy of the very idea of an all-encompassing government allegedly “solving” our problems. But we have to be ready with credible, easy-to-understand alternatives to what people are currently used to. When things fall apart, we have to be able to show the people that the reason they are falling apart is precisely because of the “solutions” the Big Government (Progressive or Nationalist) types have implemented.
I’m not sure we Conservatives can do this within the Republican Party. In the aftermath of Obama’s 2008 victory, the TEA Party gave all of us (I think) hope that we could capture the GOP…but the 2016 race has shown how very difficult it is to dislodge a Ruling Class from within. Remember, the GOP Establishment could have coalesced behind Cruz right after Rubio pulled out of the race…this still might not have stopped Trump, but it would have given Cruz a much greater chance of doing so. But, they didn’t – because at the end of the day, the GOP Establishment is as wedded to Big Government as the Democrat Establishment is…sure, they’d prefer someone other than Trump, but anyone (in their minds) was better than Cruz who might have actually started to dismantle Big Government.
I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again – it might be time for a new Party. I favor calling it Christian Democrat, but I’ve also heard people revive the old Federalist party label, as well as other proposed names. The reason I prefer Christian Democrat is because, well, first and foremost an American Conservative party must be in defense of Judeo-Christian morality (so, call it the Judeo-Christian Democrats…but that sounds a bit clunky). Adding Democrat to it is partially based upon the concept that we’d be for the freedom of the people (unlike the Democrat part of today) and partially because it would also be a very clear separation between us and the Republican party. The name, in and of itself, would help us pull in people who are currently Democrat but who, when you get right down to it, have nothing to do with the leftwing extremism advanced by the Democrat leadership…it would allow us to talk sensibly to millions of people who Republicans can’t even get a hearing from.
I think such a party could also immediately pull current GOP and Democrat office-holders away from the two parties. It would allow us to get out the gate already holding some political power. Naturally, most of those liable to shift will be Republican, but there are some Democrats we could also get. If we suddenly existed in, say, May of 2017 with 5 Senators and 20 House members, as well as a proportional number of State legislative seats, then we’re already made. The idea behind such a party is not to immediately capture a Congressional majority and win the White House in 2020 – but to provide a balance between the Republicans and Democrats and to provide an alternative party which is completely clean of all Democrat and Republican policy failures. Starting a party in 2017 which holds no legislative majority and no executive power means that whatever goes to heck in a handbasket in 2018 and beyond is simply not our fault…and there we are, sitting with easy-to-understand explanations for GOP/Dem failures and equally easy-to-understand alternative policies.
Also freed from the GOP we would be able to campaign in areas of the country where the GOP often can’t even show it’s face…or won’t show it’s face because to campaign in such areas would require the GOP to adopt positions in opposition to the desires of GOP donors. Such a party could well emerge after 2020 with enough House and Senate members to make the choice of who is Speaker and Senate Majority Leader dependent upon how much Democrats and Republicans promise us. If things collapse in a general sense (as they will – trust me, debt and fake money can’t go on forever), then we’re positioned to knock both major parties collectively down to minority status.
Anyway, that is how I see it – for now, Hillary is probably going to win, the GOP is going to suffer some serious Congressional losses (with a small chance of them being really bad if Trump melts down entirely)…and then the GOP profits off Hillary being Hillary for 2018. But, then, where are we? Back where we were in 2010…having handed a lot of power to a GOP which has relentlessly thwarted us from getting our way. The correct alternative, in my view, is to form a new party which will represent us – first to at least give us genuine leverage in getting at least a half a loaf from time to time, eventually to take over when things go smash. And if Trump wins? Even more important for us to form a new party – we don’t want Conservatism to be identified with the Big Government Nationalism of Trump…especially as his version of Big Government will eventually collapse just like the Progressive version of it.