There’s been talk for a while regarding the possibility that the Republican Party will implode. Here at Liberal America, it’s been brought up as recently as last week. It’s a fun little talking point a lot of liberals like to use as ammunition when discussing politics, but how legitimate a talking point is it? Is the Republican Party really on the verge of total self-annihilation and if so, what would be the cause?
These answers depend on whom you ask and while it’s interesting to gather these perspectives from journalists and pundits, perhaps this is a topic best answered by someone who would have first-hand accounts of Republican Party turmoil? Perhaps it would be best to get some perspective from someone who actively works to promote the Republican brand?
Andrew Prokop at Vox recently had a conversation with Republican strategist Steve Schmidt, who is well-known in political circles for his work on George W. Bush’s 2004 reelection campaign and his efforts for John McCain in 2008. During the interview, Mr. Prokop was direct with Mr. Schmidt, asking him what he believed to be the state of the Republican Party.
Mr. Schmidt’s answers cast shadows over America’s most conservative political party. On the relationship between the Republican Party and women:
“As a political device, the ‘war on women’ trope was effective. Republicans had an unfortunate series of candidates who were able to caricature the party.”
On Donald Trump’s campaign strategy to focus on attacking Bill Clinton’s alleged sexual misconduct:
“Trump’s surrounded by people who have made a living in the Clinton conspiracy business. What’s the point they’re trying to make? That’s there a double standard in the media about how he’s been covered? There is!
But this isn’t a strategy for winning a presidential election. This is a strategy born from the fevered imaginations of people who are living in an alternate reality universe.”
On the Republican Party’s relationship with Donald Trump:
“Obviously the decision to jump off the Trump train will have been a late one, and it will be criticized by some people. They’ll say, ‘What was the last straw that broke the camel’s back?’ I don’t know if there’s an answer for that. But people who are straddling the line with absurd propositions, like, ‘I’m voting for him, but I don’t endorse him,’ it’s a chickenshit position.”
On the ramifications some Republicans could be forced to endure due to their decisions to back away from Donald Trump:
“Candidates for federal office have duties and obligations toward the national interest that supersede tactical calculations. And the question is this — I suppose if you believe that Donald Trump has demonstrated fitness to sit atop the national command authority as commander in chief of the world’s most powerful military and its most sophisticated nuclear arsenal, then you should continue to endorse Donald Trump.
But for sure, when the election’s over, you’re locked into that position for all time. And the question is, if we haven’t hit the line where you can say, ‘I can;’t support the nominee of the party’ — then where is the line?”
On the current state of the Republican Party and its future:
“One of John McCain’s famous quotes was quoting Chairman Mao: ‘It’s always darkest before it’s completely black.’
The Trump campaign is over — Hillary Clinton is going to be elected president. The question that remains here, the open question, is the degree of the collateral damage, right? The Republicans are going to lose the US Senate. The question is how many seats can they lose in the House. It is possible but not probable yet that they lose the House majority.”
“Then there’s a long-term implication for the civic life of the country, the vandalism being done, which will culminate for the first time in American history with [Donald Trump’s] refusal to make an ordinary concession where he grants to the winner legitimacy by recognizing the legitimacy of the election. I think it’s very clear he’s going to go out saying it’s a rigged system.
I think what you’re gonna see is Steve Bannon monetizing 30 percent of the electorate into a UKIP-style movement and a billion-dollar media business.
And I think the Republican Party has an outstanding chance of fracturing. There will be the alt-right party; then there will be a center-right conservative party that has an opportunity to reach out, repair damage, and rebuild the brand over time.”
“The last implication for it behaviorally is it exposes at such a massive scale and at such magnitude the hypocrisy of the Tony Perkinses and the Jerry Falwell Jrs. and the Pat Robertsons. These people are literally the modern-day Pharisees, they are the money changers in the temple, and they will forever be destroyed from a credibility perspective.”
This is a damning prediction for a Republican Party that has been eating its own tail for years. It’s no secret that the Republican Party is crisis, due in part to both its sociopolitical positions and the extremists who have purloined it. Mr. Schmidt’s Revelation-esque prediction of the fate of the Republic Party paints with detail the end result of a party who has spent decades appealing to the interests of people and groups with sinister motives and demands, from the Religious Right to the Tea Party.
As former Secretary of Health, Education, and Welfare John W. Gardner once said, “Political extremism requires two prime ingredients: an excessively simple diagnosis of the world’s ills and a conviction that there are identifiable villains back of it all.”
These ingredients have, for too long, composed the Republican Party.
Featured image by Michael Vadon, available under a Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 4.0 International license.