For a really long time, the G.O.P. was dominated by its own “ruling class” — now termed “Establishment Republicans.” Counted among their leadership were Bush 41, Bush 43, Jeb Bush, all the other Bush family surrogates, Mitt Romney, John McCain, Orin Hatch, Mitch McConnell, Paul Ryan, and many others who have literally or just figuratively “gone away.” But things are changing!
The G.O.P. Today
Enter Donald Trump: a former Democrat, former liberal thinker turned Republican. But Trump is the antithesis to establishment Republican ideals.
Many Republicans thought he would NEVER be able to amass sufficient support to win even the G.O.P. nomination for President in 2016. They were wrong. Many of these same Republicans were certain he could never draw voter support to win the general election — certainly not against the darling of America, Hillary Clinton. They were wrong. But Establishment Republicans did NOT stop there: they knew for a fact Trump could NEVER get any of his campaign promises to affect real legislative accomplishments implemented if he somehow won in 2016. Wrong again.
Did you know that on the way to the White House, Trump defeated these “other” Republican candidates, most of whom were G.O.P. Establishment through and through?
- Mike Huckabee
- Rand Paul
- Rick Santorum
- Carly Fiorina
- Chris Christie
- Jim Gilmore
- Jeb Bush
- Ben Carson
- Marco Rubio
- Ted Cruz
- John Kasich
- George Pataki
- Lindsey Graham
- Bobby Jindahl
- Scott Walker
- Rick Perry
Oh, there were 5 more candidates you probably never heard of: Jack Fellure, Andy Martin, Dennis Lynch, Mark Everson, and Jimmy McMillan: President Trump beat 22 Republicans — most of who were longtime G.O.P. “possibilities and far more likely than Trump for the job — on his way to victory?
One would think by now, the G.O.P. dinosaurs would fade away. Instead, many of them have a death grip on the Party, refusing to step aside to for the will of Conservative Americans to move the G.O.P. away from the Establishment. Mitt Romney, Jeff Flake, Mitch McConnell, Paul Ryan, and many others are hanging on for dear life. Why is that?
What Defines “Establishment Republicans?”
The answer to that question has been puzzling for many for years. The answer should certainly be based on the policy differences between the Democrat Party and the Republican Party. But during the past few decades, that difference has dramatically blurred. If you write a list of major American policies and the positions on each taken by Conservatives and Liberals, you’ll see that until Donald Trump took the oath of office, the differences between the Establishment Democrat and Establishment Republican parties were slim (and in many cases) none.
Donald Trump gave conservative Americans who for years had watched the G.O.P. simply giveaway conservative policies, bowing more and more to the whims of their liberal counterparts in Congress, without any plausible explanations to Americans for doing so. Whether they were economical and tax issues, trade issues, immigration policy matters, foreign policy negotiations, healthcare (and the list goes on and on), the Establishment G.O.P. without notice of intent to do so simply walked away from conservatives. And until Trump walked onto the Conservative Stage in 2015, no Republican really knew for sure what had happened to the G.O.P.!
Make no mistake about this: the Republican Party has changed — not away from its ORIGINAL structure and conservative ideals, (it had already morphed into a “Republican Lite” mode) but is now changing BACK TO those original Republican ideals. And the Establishment G.O.P. is struggling to survive in its quest to quietly keep the Grand Old Party slipping Left.
The Last Breath
When Congressman Paul Ryan (R-Wi) announced he would not seek re-election this year and would therefore relinquish the House Speaker gavel, I wondered why he would make such an announcement without planning to go ahead and step aside to allow House members to elect a new Speaker. Doing so seemed really strange. But being a political cynic, it did not take me long to realize that by not stepping down as Speaker, he had a plan.
Then there’s Mitch McConnell (R-Ky), Senate Majority Leader, who barely won re-election to his sixth term in the Senate in 2014. The G.O.P. primary in that race was pretty close. According to analysis by the University of Minnesota, this was the lowest voter support for a Kentucky U.S. Senator in a primary by either party since 1938. Yet McConnell won and now leads the Senate.
Like Ryan, knowing that in his home state and in the U.S. Senate he was growing less and less popular among the electorate and also among G.O.P. colleagues on the Hill, one would think McConnell would back away to allow other less controversial and better liked Senators to take the lead in the upper House. Yet McConnell maintained his death grip on the Senate leadership position. And since, he has kept the Senate on a “lazy river of legislation” mode, slow-playing every meaningful nomination hearing, and delaying introduction of new legislation as promised by Republican Senate candidates and President Trump during their 2016 campaigns. McConnell in May of 2018 announced the Senate would not take up anymore “meaningful legislation” until after the November elections! He announced that with so many hot legislative topics on the minds of the majority of Americans.
Could the reason for these two Establishment G.O. P. leaders hanging around D.C. in their positions of power be for a reason other than to serve their voting constituents while leading the Republican Party in D.C.? If Paul Ryan was really concerned about making sure loose ends were tied up before his Speaker retirement and to maintain control of the House in the mid-term elections, it seems more logical for him to step down, immediately handing control of the House to his successor. Doing so would assure voters that whoever House Republicans elected to replace Ryan would be both capable and committed to continue and push forward with the Trump agenda. Remember: Almost all G.O.P. House members during THEIR 2016 election and re-election bids used the Trump agenda and groundswell of its acceptance by voters to win their House seats.
Who can forget the scene of G.O.P. Senator John McCain after casting the “death vote” that would have allowed debate on killing Obamacare to come to the Senate floor? Immediately following casting his vote, he was seen high-fiving House Minority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-NY) walking off the Senate floor. American Republicans en masse wanted (and still want) Obamacare done away with. What has the Senate done to heed that G.O.P. voter issue: to do away with Obamacare and replace it? Nothing — not even debating a bill.
And then there’s Mitt Romney. Former Michigan resident, Massachusetts governor, failed Republican Presidential candidate in 2012, is now an odds-on favorite to replace retiring Senator Orin Hatch as Utah Senator. Romney in his bid to unseat Barack Obama seemed to many conservatives to have Obama on the run — until the final month of the campaign. Romney all but disappeared — sort of like Hillary Clinton did a month before the 2016 election. To many it seemed that he just gave up that last month, giving Obama his second term.
Now Romney is taking another shot at winning an election. The longtime Senator he is replacing was not originally a Trump supporter. But Hatch after the 2016 election threw himself into the job of supporting conservative causes. And later as he saw the Trump accomplishments pile up, Hatch said that President Trump just might go down as the best U.S. President ever.
What about Romney and in his Utah Senatorial campaign his support for the Trump agenda?
“I have and will continue to speak out when the president says or does something which is divisive, racist, sexist, anti-immigrant, dishonest or destructive to democratic institutions,” Romney wrote. “I do not make this a daily commentary; I express contrary views only when I believe it is a matter of substantial significance.”
That sounds to me much more like an Establishment Republican leaning Democrat statement than a Conservative statement of support.
Evidence of G.O.P. Establishment Dying
The proof that the G.O.P. Establishment is really dying and that Donald Trump has (with his election and policy leadership support among party members) at least exposed the move toward more traditional Conservatism in the Republican Party, is shown in a Pew Research Poll released today:
♦About half of conservative Republicans and leaners (52%) say Trump has changed the GOP for the better, 36% think he hasn’t changed the party much, and just 9% say he has changed the GOP for the worse.
♦Among moderate and liberal Republicans, a smaller share (34%) say Trump has changed the party for the better, while 49% say he hasn’t changed the party much (only 11% say he has changed the party for the worse).
♦Those who identify as Republican are more likely to view Trump’s impact on the party positively (53%) than to say he hasn’t changed the party much (34%).
♦By contrast, the balance of opinion is reversed among independents who lean toward the Republican Party: 51% say he hasn’t changed the party much, while a third say he has changed the GOP for the better. Only about one-in-ten in either group say he has changed the party for the worse.
Additionally, Donald Trump has higher approval ratings among all voters than did Barack Obama after his first 500 days in office. And one-by-one we’re watching as numerous political “left-leaners” quietly move toward the right — toward REAL conservative ideals.
Why should this be so shocking to G.O.P. leadership? It should not surprise them, but it does. It SHOULD prompt them to do as more than 60 million Americans have done: get on board.
It’s not so much about going all in for Donald Trump personally. It’s about what he has achieved for Americans. It’s about fulfilling campaign promises — which is rare for any Republican OR Democrat to do. It’s not about liking or agreeing with his messaging methods and verbiage. It’s about the United States of America, its economical and social turnaround that was totally transformed by his predecessor, away from the Greatness that had pushed the U.S. to the top of the pile of all the countries in the world.
Could Trump do things better? I really don’t know. I DO know that he could tamp down the rhetoric of those who constantly attack him by simply toning down the tone of his messaging. But if he did that, maybe American conservatives that have been ignored for so long by their Senators and Congressmen would not be in such full support of President Trump.
My summary of all this is simple: Establishment Republicans should open their eyes to the truth that the Old Republican Party really IS dead. One G.O.P. dinosaur called it perfectly last week. Former Republican House Speaker John Boehner said, “There is no more Republican Party. It’s now the Trump Party.” Boehner said that in a derogatory fashion. But you know what? I’m pretty sure he was right.