Last night we talked about how Republicans are already looking at ways to reconstitute their party after Trump is crushed in November. That, however, is certainly easier said than done. John Harwood, writing for the NY Times quoted Avik Roy a serious conservative policy advisor first for Romney and then for Rubio as saying that “the gravitational center of the Republican Party is white nationalism.” That's not going away overnight just because Trump loses, unless he loses in a landslide, which is not indicated by any current polling. The Republican Party is shattered and it's likely to remain shattered. All that keeps it afloat is the jaw-dropping incompetence of a sclerotic, bungling Democratic Party.
After Mr. Romney’s 2012 defeat exposed the limits of relying on white voters in a diversifying nation, the Republican National Committee called for outreach to Latino voters through new immigration policies. Hostility from working-class conservatives, irate over cultural change and diminished economic prospects, scuttled that effort.
In the 2016 primaries, Jeb Bush and Marco Rubio, two champions of Latino support, were punished, and the party was left with Mr. Trump and Senator Ted Cruz, two finalists for the presidential nomination that Republican officeholders loathed but could not stop.
Mr. Trump prevailed by channeling Republican anger most skillfully– against foes inside the party, like Mr. Cruz, and out. To the chagrin of fellow Republicans now facing general election battles, he hasn’t stopped.
Since securing the nomination, Mr. Trump has openly denigrated a Mexican-American federal judge, the Muslim parents of a fallen American soldier and a former Miss Universe. He offers sweeping condemnations of life in African-American communities.
The rise of Mr. Trump threatens fellow Republicans who must appeal to broader constituencies, now and in the future. Prominent voices within the party, including editorial writers at conservative newspapers and top officials in past Republican administrations, have strongly denounced him.
Asked in a debate this week whether Mr. Trump represented a role model for children, Sen. Kelly Ayotte, Republican of New Hampshire, answered “absolutely.”
Within hours she found that answer such a liability that she withdrew it, explaining “I misspoke.”
Mitch McConnell, the Senate Republican leader, in theory allied with his party’s nominee, tried this week to avoid that pitfall altogether.
Asked to discuss Mr. Trump, who currently draws support from more than eight in 10 Republicans, Mr. McConnell told reporters, “I choose not to.”
David Letterman has been interviewing Trump on TV since the 1980s. This week David Itzkoff interviewed Letterman about Trump, who Letterman feels needs a psychiatrist.
I’ve known Donald Trump for a long time and I always thought he was exactly what New York City needed to have: the big, blowhard billionaire. “By God, I’m Donald Trump and I date models and I put up buildings, and everything is gold.” Nobody took him seriously, and people loved him when he would come on the show. I would make fun of his hair, I would call him a slumlord, I would make fun of his ties. And he could just take a punch like nothing. He was the perfect guest.
…The thing about Trumpy was, I think people just were amused enough about him to keep him afloat in the polls, because nobody wanted the circus to pull up and leave town.
Today, the circus was supposed to move to the Walworth County fairgrounds outside of Elkhorn in Paul Ryan's congressional district, but last night Ryan disinvited Trump because of his attitude towards women. Pence is going instead. Ryan would like to spend 2017-2020 sabotaging President Hillary so he can run against her next time around. Writing for the New Republic yesterday, David Dayen explained how someone whose very toxic never-changing-agenda could even be in such a position. “The Paul Ryan budget, rolled out in 2011,” he reminded his readers, “was initially synonymous with Republican cruelty and trickle-down economics. The virtual starvation of programs for the poor, the extreme tax cuts for the wealthy, the privatization of Medicare– these all became anchors that could have, should have, weighed down Republicans forever. But somewhere along the line, Ryan wriggled off the hook. So much so, in fact, that he could announce in public on Wednesday that he intends to jam through the Ryan budget next year under a procedure that bypasses Democratic opposition in Congress– and make that vow without fear of reprisal, right in the heat of election season.”
Who’s responsible for detoxifying the Ryan agenda, for legitimizing his radical views on government? Democrats let their foot off the gas when it came to Ryan, after first tarring other Republicans successfully with supporting him. But the press also deserves blame for helping Ryan rehabilitate his discredited positions, by bestowing on him the honorary title of Serious Man of Washington.
What Ryan promised on Wednesday is that if Republicans control both Congress and the White House come January, he’ll use “budget reconciliation” to implement most of what he now calls his Better Way agenda (it used to be the Path to Prosperity). Under reconciliation, Congress can advance anything that primarily affects the budget bottom line with a simple majority vote, including in the Senate, which normally would require beating a 60-vote filibuster to proceed. “This is our game plan for 2017,” Ryan said.
Fortunately, voters appear to have other plans. Hillary Clinton’s chances of winning the presidency, and denying Ryan unified control, are growing. And Senate races are tight enough to flip either way, with Democratic control very possible.
But if Ryan, Donald Trump, and Mitch McConnell did run Congress, they could unquestionably use reconciliation to ram home the Ryan budget. And that agenda is as radical an overhaul of the federal government as anything that’s come out of Trump’s mouth.
The Better Way repeals most of Obamacare, from the individual and employer mandates to the Medicaid expansion to subsidies for consumers to purchase insurance. It would cut at least $6 trillion in federal spending, with 62 percent of that coming from programs that help low- and moderate-income families. It would “block-grant” a number of anti-poverty programs, giving fixed sums to the states to manage without any federal restrictions (and without the ability to get expanded funding based on need). It would raise the Medicare eligibility age to 67 and cripple the program by offering “premium support” for seniors to buy private insurance, fracturing the market and breaking a system that works pretty well. And Ryan’s plan would cut individual and corporate tax rates, with 99.6 percent of the benefits going to the wealthiest 1 percent.
…Why did Democrats fail to hang Ryan’s wildly unpopular plans around Republicans’ necks? Partly because, by the time he was nominated, Ryan had become somebody Democrats could work with, relative to the Tea Party conservatives who’d swept into the House in 2010. Ron Wyden had joined with Ryan in late 2011 to endorse his Medicare plan. After the election, Patty Murray engineered a “Bipartisan Budget Act” with Ryan in 2013, to avert a government shutdown. When Ryan became Speaker last October, he ushered through another Bipartisan Budget Act. The flack he took on his right for that deal, which increased discretionary spending modestly while offsetting that with other cuts, established him as the sensible alternative (again, relatively), the guy Democrats could deal with in the opposition party.
And this is where media culpability comes in. Reporters and pundits have historically gone to bat for Ryan, exalting him as a legitimate thinker trying to solve problems rather than a dangerous ideologue. Politifact helped negate Democrats’ Medicare attacks by calling them the 2011 “Lie of the Year.” Nobody in Congress gets more loving profiles, dating from before he became the Veep nominee or Speaker to the present day. That Ryan’s budgets were mainly snake oil, that his plans would have dire consequences for every American without a trust fund, usually get edited out of the story.
Even today, the media assists Ryan when he tries to distance himself from Donald Trump– when in reality, Trump would likely be little more than an autopen as president, signing whatever noxious policy Ryan shuttled through the House and put on his desk. Despite this, the media almost affords him sympathy for his plight about dealing with Trump (he’s campaigning with Trump on Saturday, so it can’t be that wrenching), rather than recognizing his role as the author of the agenda the next Republican president will carry out.
The normalization of Ryan as a serious, honest figure allows him to put out as radical a budget as would ever be initiated in American history without anyone batting an eyelash. This may not come back to sting the country next year, if Trump falls the way his poll numbers currently suggest. But at some not-too-distant point, when conservatives capture the entire government, they’ll be able to implement this blueprint, the Ryan budget, that should have been made into nuclear waste long ago.
Is there a way to stop that? Sure, winning congressional seats. Unfortunately, the Democratic Party leadership is just not up to it. Pelosi is too old and out-of-it and all the power rests with her. She's appointed one incompetent imbecile after another to run the DCCC, starting anti-progressive fanatic Rahm Emanuel, through bumbling idiot Chris Van Hollen, crooked Blue Dog Steve Israel and now, a foolish simpleton with one qualification, a Latino last name. I hate to be a downer, but once they carry Pelosi (and Hoyer) out of there, the next level of failure-as-an-ideology leadership ready to take over is far worse than either Pelosi or Hoyer: Queens County machine boss Joe Crowley and crooked national disgrace Debbie Wasserman Schultz. If Pelosi and Hoyer would each announce their retirement today– it would be fantastic… except that either Crowley or Wasserman Schultz would be elected leader and, there's a good chance that the two them would wind up in charge the Democratic congressional party the way Pelosi and Hoyer run it today. The Democratic Party would become an engine for creating ads– like the Ami Bera one below– for the Republican Party.
The candidates on the page this thermometer leads to are all winners of their primaries and all are in districts that can be won in November– and are all that the Pelosi and her wretched DCCC are either ignoring entirely or actively sabotaging. Unless you want to see the Ryan scenario become reality– and remember, even if the Democrats somehow manage to take the Senate back in November, they will certainly lose it again, massively, in 2018– please stretch to help elect progressives like these to the House. We have to bethinking about a post-Pelosi/Hoyer Congress… one that isn't Crowley/Wasserman Schultz.
“When fascism comes to America, it will be wrapped in the flag and carrying the cross.” — Sinclair Lewis