The GOP as failed state

Love this Will Saletan piece.  Nice metaphor:

The disaster, the blame game, and the establishment’s surprise at what’s happening are related. Since President Obama’s election, the GOP has abandoned its role as a national governing party. It has seized Congress not by pursuing an alternative agenda but by campaigning and staging votes against anything Obama says or does. The party’s so-called leaders have become followers, chasing the pet issues of right-wing radio audiences. Now the mob to whom these elders have surrendered—angry white voters who are determined to “take back their country” from immigrants and liberals—is ready to install its own presidential nominee. The Trump-Cruz takeover is the culmination of the Grand Old Party’s moral collapse.  [emphasis mine]

In foreign policy, there’s a term for governments that don’t govern. We call themfailed states. A state can fail for many reasons, but weak or clueless leadership is usually a factor. In a failed state, insurgencies grow, warlords arise, and chaos reigns. That’s what the GOP has become…

Republicans no longer have a policy agenda. They have a scapegoating, base-stoking agenda. Their economic plan is to blame legal immigrants for the demise of upward mobility. Their social policy is to defund the nation’s leading birth-control providerand promote disobedience of court orders. Their foreign policy is to carpet-bombSyria, insult the faith of our anti-ISIS partners, and void Iran’s pledge to abstain from nuclear weapons production…

In the race to the right, yesterday’s conservatives can’t keep up. John Boehner, a right-wing rebel in the House 20 years ago, has been purged as speaker by the GOP’s new hardliners. Kasich, another House rebel from the Boehner era, is now ridiculed in the presidential primaries as a liberal…

When you run a party this way, chasing after your most radical constituents—in Republican parlance, leading from behind—you shouldn’t be surprised to find that the audience you’ve cultivated doesn’t match your original principles…

Good stuff, but one I think should really scare establishment Republicans is this:

Trump is leading almost every national and statewide Republican poll. Together, he and Cruz are drawing the support of 60 percent of Republicans in the latestCNN/ORC poll, 58 percent in the ABC News/Washington Post poll, 54 percent in theFox News poll, and 53 percent in the NBC News/Wall Street Journal poll. In Iowa, Trump and Cruz are splitting 60 percent of likely Republican caucus-goers. In New Hampshire, they control 47 percent of the vote. In South Carolina, they’re drawing 61 percent.

Even if all the establishment candidates pooled their support, they wouldn’t win. Together, Rubio, Bush, Christie, and Kasich are attracting only 18 percent of the Republican vote in the CNN/ORC poll, 22 percent in the ABC/Post poll, and 22 percent in the Fox News poll. The NBC/Journal poll found that even if the Republican field narrowed to Trump, Cruz, and Rubio, Rubio would still finish last by 5 percentage points. With Cruz removed, Trump would still beat Rubio, 52 percent to 45 percent.

Now that’s a huge problem for Republicans.  Sure, polling in primaries can change fast, but presumably within certain logical paramaters, e.g., we shouldn’t expect to see Cruz support ever go to Jeb.

Lastly, given that I was talking about the affective polarization of partisanship in class yesterday (i.e., the hatred between Democrats and Republicans) I actually feel a little funny writing so much negative stuff about Republicans.  But, I don’t actually have a problem with Republicans.  There’s many that I personally know and respect and there’s plenty that I think hold truly reasonable, just different, political views in my own (e.g., Frum, Douthat, Gerson).  What’s so frustrating to me (and many Republicans) is that the party has largely been taken over by a fact-free, insurgent outlier force with virtually no interest in capable governing or smart policy.   And right now that faction is looking quite ascendant in the primaries.

Help me Marco Rubio, you’re my only hope

At 538, Dave Wasserman argues that Republicans are doomed unless they are smart enough to suddenly get their act together and unite behind Rubio:

There are a lot of complex analyses of the 2016 election floating around. My own theory is quite straightforward: If Hillary Clinton is the nominee — and she remains a heavy favorite over Bernie Sanders — her fate largely rests with Republican voters’ decisions over the next few months.

If Republicans nominate Rubio, they would have an excellent chance to beat Clinton by broadening their party’s appeal with moderates, millennials and Latinos. [emphases mine] The GOP would also have an excellent chance to keep the Senate, hold onto a wide margin in the House and enjoy more control of federal government than they have in over a decade.

If they nominate Ted Cruz, Clinton would probably win, the GOP Senate majority would also be in peril and GOP House losses could climb well into the double digits. A Donald Trump nomination would not only make Clinton’s election very likely and raise the odds of a Democratic Senate; it could force down-ballot Republicans to repudiate Trump to survive, increase pressure on a center-right candidate to mount an independent bid and split the GOP asunder.

In other words, if you’re a member of the Republican Party who wants to win in November, it’s basically Rubio or bust. The “Rubio or bust” theory relies on a process of elimination rather than an assessment of his biography, skills or ground game.

There are seven Republican candidates polling above 5 percent in Iowa, New Hampshire or nationally. Three of them — John Kasich, Chris Christie and Jeb Bush — are competing for moderate GOP voters in New Hampshire, but their appeal remains so tepid with conservative Republicans who dominate most other primaries that they lack a plausible path to the nomination.

On the other hand, Trump and Cruz are more popular with conservative Republicans. But either could turn into the most disastrous GOP presidential nominee since 1964.

Yep.  I think Wasserman may oversell Rubio’s general election strength a little bit– he’s the Republicans’ best bet alright, and a skilled politician– but economic and party fundamentals still matter a lot.  Honestly, I think so many people are convinced Rubio will still pull this out because it seems so obvious to those of the non-insane portion of the Republican party (e.g., Democrats, plus sadly, a minority of Republican voters these days), that Rubio is such an obvious choice.  Now, of course he may still pull this out, but just because he seems the most obvious and logical choice is far from a guarantee that this will persuade the majority of Republican primary voters.  And right now, a clear majority of Republican primary voters support Trump or Cruz.

Now, if I had real skills, I’d create the Marco Rubio version of this.  But, I don’t.

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