I’m hoping, as everyone I know is, that Hillary scores a decisive victory and that Democrats take at least the Senate. A narrow victory is still better than a Trump win, but a narrow victory doesn’t give her much of a governing mandate.
But whither the ardent and angry Trump voters? It’s hard for me to see how a Paul Ryan-led Republican Party gets them back into the fold.
Timothy Stanley is a British historian and journalist. Sometimes I think it’s helpful to hear the views of someone a bit removed from the heat of our election.
First and foremost, says Stanley, Trump won’t go away. He basks in the adoring crowds, and he holds grudges forever. Remember it was 20 years ago that Vanity Fair editor Graydon Carter called Trump a “short fingered vulgarian” — and Trump is still defensively bringing up that insult to his manhood. If he’s defeated by a woman, it’s hard to fathom the depths of his Roy Cohen/Senator Joseph McCarthy style vengeance for retribution. And vengeance won’t be launched just in Hillary’s direction; Trump will attempt to exact retribution on the Republican Party that he will blame for his likely defeat.
Second, Trump has given voice and form to a version of conservative Republicanism that has nothing to do with traditional Party orthodoxy.
“The GOP base was once defined by quite rigid orthodoxies on cutting government, projecting US power and moral conservatism. Trump has rejected all three and won votes from those who want a conservatism that will reduce immigration and uphold law and order.
Cheery, optimistic Reaganism is dead; the Bush administration helped kill it with Iraq, the credit crunch and a series of ethics scandals that prepared the GOP base nicely for compromise with Trump. Cynicism has conquered the right.”
During the primaries Republicans were thrilled that Trump has brought out millions of new voters. He has indeed, but they are not voters who want to support the Ryan center-right vision of the future. The base is bellowing for Donald and a return to white America, not for a reincarnation of Ronald Reagan or Jack Kemp.
Finally, the Republican Party may fracture, as the split between the business/center-right wing and the Trumpsters could be irreconcilable.
Stanley sees the only hope for the Party as the emergence of a charismatic moderate leader who can wean angry voters away from the empty promises of Trump. I wonder. The Party had that, didn’t they, in Marco Rubio? Any of the remotely sane Republican primary candidates — Rubio, Kasich, Bush, even Christie with his Bridgegate scandal — went down to resounding defeat.
If not a reinvigorated moderate Republican with charisma, then what?