Monday, March 28, 2016
What Will They Find When They Open the Bloated Corpse of the Grand Old Party
The GOP, the party of Abraham Lincoln, lies on its deathbed afflicted with a dangerous case of the Creeping Damp, also known as rectovesical trumposis. The prognosis does not look good and the attending physicians say the patient may expire by November and it's time to consider palliative options.
It's the sort of case in which the next of kin will definitely want an autopsy to find out just what went wrong. The New York Times could spare them the wait:
In dozens of interviews, Republican lawmakers, donors, activists and others described — some with resignation, some with anger — a party that paved the way for a Trump-like figure to steal its base, as it lost touch with less affluent voters and misunderstood their growing anguish.
“This is absolutely a crisis for the party elite — and beyond the party elite, for elected officials, and for the way people have been raised as Republicans in the power structure for a generation,” said Ari Fleischer, who served as press secretary for President George W. Bush. “If Donald Trump wins, he will change what it means to be a Republican.”
Many trace the rupture to the country’s economic crisis eight years ago: While Americans grew more skeptical of the banking industry in the aftermath, some Republicans played down the frustrations of their own voters.
While wages declined and workers grew anxious about retirement, Republicans offered an economic program still centered on tax cuts for the affluent and the curtailing of popular entitlements like Medicare and Social Security. And where working-class voters saw immigrants filling their schools and competing against them for jobs, Republican leaders saw an emerging pool of voters to court.
“They have to come to terms with what they created,” said Laura Ingraham, a conservative activist and talk-radio host. “They’ll talk about everything except the fact that their policies are unpopular.”
The distance was magnified by the Supreme Court’s 2010 decision in the Citizens United case, which gave wealthy donors rising weight in Republican circles, even amid signs that the party’s downscale voters were demanding more of a voice.
...Some conservative intellectuals warned that the party was headed for trouble. Republicans had become too identified with big business and the wealthy — their donor class. They urged Republican lawmakers to embrace policies that could have a more direct impact on pay and economic prospects for these voters: wage subsidies, relocation aid to the long-term unemployed, even targeted infrastructure spending. But much of the party’s agenda remained frozen.
“They figured, ‘These are conservative voters, anti-Obama voters. We’ll give them the same policies we’ve always given them,’” said James Pethokoukis, a fellow at the American Enterprise Institute. “High-earner tax cuts, which people are skeptical of; business tax cuts, even though these businesses seem to be doing great. It didn’t resonate with the problems in their lives.”
...During a recent interview with CNBC, [Republican House leader, Paul] Ryan was asked if Republicans needed to respond to less-affluent voters who believed that Republicans were tending only to the interests of those at the top.
Mr. Ryan, who during the same interview called again for the overhaul of entitlements and the reduction of debt, rejected that idea.
“People don’t think like that,” he said. “People want to know the deck is fair. Bernie Sanders talks about that stuff. That’s not who we are.”
In other words, the Republican establishment, the GOP elite, are doubling down. They're in the pockets of people named Charlie and David and Sheldon, munching on the free snacks from APEC. They know there's a bad rumbling in the lower G.I. tract but they're gambling it'll pass. November nears.