This seems such a strange time for the Republican party to self-destroy. Let me explain.
The GOP has a huge lead in state legislatures. The GOP controls more state legislatures than it ever has before.
The GOP has a huge lead in governors: 31. The Democrats have 18 (and there is one independent).
The GOP has an immense majority in the U.S. House — a bigger majority than it has had since the 1920s.
And it has a decent majority in the U.S. Senate.
The Republicans had blow-out years in 2010 and 2014 — blow-outs in their favor, I mean.
True, they lost to Barack Obama twice. And the presidency is the big enchilada. But Obama is not running again. (Thank you, 22nd Amendment.) The element of race — so potent in American life — is absent or diminished this year.
The Democrats’ nominee will be Hillary Clinton: one of the most damaged, disliked, and problematic candidates in ages. Possibly, the FBI will recommend her indictment.
So, the Republicans were poised for something big, I think. And what do they do? Nominate Donald J. Trump. He is their standard-bearer, their representative, the face of their party.
There was a song: “You Picked a Fine Time to Leave Me, Lucille.” The Republican party picked a fine time to commit suicide.
Usually, a person commits suicide when he’s flat on his back — despondent, at the end of his rope, without hope. The Republican party was in a remarkably healthy state.
And the hatred of the GOP — the “GOPe” — was so strong in voters, they killed off the party with Trump.
They have disfigured the party, morally. Yesterday, their candidate, their nominee, said that Rafael Cruz had a connection to the Kennedy assassination. That is a story that Trump got from the National Enquirer, his supporter and endorser. He is the National Enquirer candidate. And, of course, the Republican candidate. The GOP nominee.
The GOP nominee mocks handicapped people, physically. He defends and praises Putin. He boasts of his adultery. He insults women on the basis of their looks. Etc.
Politically speaking, he seems to be a big-government strongman. Who sings the praises of Planned Parenthood. Because Ted Cruz had a Reaganite approach to health care, Trump said that Cruz had “no heart,” and would let people “die in the streets.”
Democrats have always said that about us.
Asked about the reform of entitlements, Trump says, No, what we need to do is ferret out waste, fraud, and abuse in government. Then we’ll be fine.
Republicans used to mock Democrats for saying that — as in the Dukakis era.
In a democracy, people make their choices. Voters in the Republican primaries and caucuses have decided that the GOP will be Trump. It is a new GOP, a Trump GOP. The GOPt?
There is a strain of Reagan conservatism, or classical liberalism, in this country. Not much of a strain, obviously, but a strain. It ought to have a vehicle. A party. If it is not to be the GOP, it will have to be something else.
A final word (for one post): Right-of-center outlets will be normalizing Trump. They are already. They will present him as palatable, acceptable — maybe a little “out there,” but not something risky and appalling. People will get used to Trump. They have already. It may well happen to me, too. But what a sick and wrong new normal.