Wednesday, December 23, 2015

The Schlonger he leads the race...

.. the more terrified the RNC gets.  Terrorism is, after all, the only thing that motivates Republicans, whether they are giving it or receiving it.  Bold throughout Jeff Greenfield's intriguing Politico piece is mine...

Donald Trump may have eased some Republican fears Tuesday night when he declared his intention to stay inside the party. But if their angst has been temporarily eased at the prospect of what he would do if he loses, they still face a far more troubling, and increasingly plausible, question.

What happens to the party if he wins?

With Trump as its standard-bearer, the GOP would suddenly be asked to rally around a candidate who has been called by his once and former primary foes “a cancer on conservatism,” “unhinged,” “a drunk driver … helping the enemy.” A prominent conservative national security expert, Max Boot, has flatly labeled him “a fascist.” And the rhetoric is even stronger in private conversations I’ve had recently with Republicans of moderate and conservative stripes.

This is not the usual rhetoric of intraparty battles, the kind of thing that gets resolved in handshakes under the convention banners. These are stake-in-the-ground positions, strongly suggesting that a Trump nomination would create a fissure within the party as deep and indivisible as any in American political history, driven both by ideology and by questions of personal character.

Indeed, it would be a fissure so deep that, if the operatives I talked with are right, Trump running as a Republican could well face a third-party run—from the Republicans themselves.

Shrillary fans, you should be able to sleep with visions of sugar plums dancing in your heads.  I know it's more fun to be angry at Sandernistas...

The history lesson continues.

The most striking examples of party fissure in American politics have come when a party broke with a long pattern of accommodating different factions and moved decisively toward one side. It has happened with the Democrats twice, both over civil rights. The party had long embraced the cause of civil rights in the North while welcoming segregationists—and white supremacists—from across the South. In 1948, the party’s embrace of a stronger civil rights plank led Southern delegations to walk out of the convention. That year, South Carolina Governor Strom Thurmond led a National States Rights Democratic Party—the “Dixiecrats”—that won four Southern states. Had President Harry Truman not (barely) defeated Tom Dewey in Ohio and California, the Electoral College would have been deadlocked—and the choice thrown into the House of Representatives, with Southern segregationists holding the balance of power. Twenty years later, Alabama Governor George Wallace led a similar anti-civil-rights third party movement that won five Southern states. A relatively small shift of voters in California would have deadlocked that election and thrown it to the House of Representatives.

In two other cases, a dramatic shift in intraparty power led to significant defections on the losing side. In 1964, when Republican conservatives succeeded in nominating a divisive champion of their cause in Barry Goldwater, liberal Republicans (there were such things back then) like New York Governor Nelson Rockefeller, Michigan Governor George Romney and others refused to endorse the nominee. More shockingly, the New York Herald-Tribune, the semi-official voice of the GOP establishment, endorsed Lyndon Johnson—the first Democrat it had supported, ever. With his party split, Goldwater went down in flames. Eight years later, when a deeply divided Democratic Party nominated anti-war hero George McGovern, George Meany led the AFL-CIO to a position of neutrality between McGovern and Richard Nixon—the first time labor had refused to back a Democrat for president. Prominent Democrats like former Texas Governor John Connally openly backed Nixon, while countless others, disempowered by the emergence of “new Democrats,” simply sat on their hands. The divided Democrats lost in a landslide.

There was also Ted Kennedy's insurgent 1980 bid for the nomination against Jimmy Carter, and at the end of yesterday's post, I mentioned Connally, Allen Shivers and the Shivercrats who abandoned Adlai Stevenson in favor of Dwight Eisenhower, and Bob Bullock, who endorsed George W. Bush for governor of Texas in 1998 and for president in 2000, as he retired from the lieutenant governorship.  What we are seeing in 2015 -- and will see in '16 -- is an updated version of the same old shit from the duopoly.

Except maybe a little different.

Would a Trump nomination be another example of such a power shift? Yes, although not a shift in an ideological sense. It would represent a more radical kind of shift, with power moving from party officials and office-holders to deeply alienated voters and to their media tribunes. (Rush Limbaugh, Sean Hannity, Mark Levin, Ann Coulter and Laura Ingraham have not exactly endorsed Trump, but they have been vocal in defending him and in assailing those who have branded Trump unacceptable.) It would undermine the thesis of a highly influential book, "The Party Decides", which argues that the preferences of party insiders is still critical to the outcome of a nomination contest. This possibility, in turn, has provoked strong feelings about Trump from some old school Republicans. Says one self-described 'structural, sycophantic Republican' who has been involved at high levels of GOP campaigns for decades: “Hillary would be bad for the country—he’d be worse.” 

Greenfield has more on Lyndon LaRouche, and David Duke, and a few other of the two parties' least desirable elements threatening the respective establishments.  My fascination, as you might imagine, is going to be with the potential independent 2016 presidential candidates.

... Rob Stutzman, another veteran of California Republican politics—he helped spearhead the 2003 recall that put Arnold Schwarzenegger in the Governor’s Mansion—foresees a third party emerging, both as a safe harbor for disaffected GOP voters and to help other Republican candidates.

“I think a third candidate would be very likely on many state ballots,” he says. “First of all, I think most GOP voters would want an alternative to vote for out of conscience. But Trump would also be devastating to the party and other GOP candidates. A solid conservative third candidate would give options to senators like (NH's Kelly) Ayotte, (WI's Ron) Johnson and (IL's Mark) Kirk to run with someone else and still be opposed to Hillary. In fact, I think it’s plausible such a candidate could beat Trump in many states.”

Any candidate attempting a third-party bid would confront serious obstacles, such as getting on state ballots late in the election calendar. As for down-ballot campaigns, most state laws prohibit candidates from running on multiple lines; so a Senate or congressional candidate who wanted to avoid association with Trump would have to abandon the GOP line to re-run with an independent presidential contender. The (Adlai) Stevenson example shows that leaving a major party line is fraught with peril—although the write-in triumph of Alaska Sen. Lisa Murkowski in 2010 suggests that it can sometimes succeed.

Two items worthy of note:

-- GOP Senators have quietly abandoned not just Trump but Ted Cruz (he doesn't play well with others, as we know) in favor of Marco Rubio, and the rumors of a brokered Republican convention are being discussed on Thom Hartman's radio program, where he has already advanced the postulate that Speaker Paul Ryan will emerge from the split, possibly with Rubio as running mate.

-- Christina Tobin of Free and Equal -- they sponsored the 2012 televised debate between the Green's Jill Stein, the Libertarian's Gary Johnson, the Constitution's Virgil Goode, (who recently endorsed Trump) and the Justice's Rocky Anderson -- has taken a ballot-access qualification job with an as-yet-unnamed independent candidate for president.  That candidate is rumored to be... Jim Webb.


R (a): Trump/Cruz, either/or at the top, maybe both together
R (b): Ryan-Rubio?
D: Clinton-Castro
G: Stein
L: Johnson
C: Possibly former Cong. John Hostettler
J: Poll on website asks if the JP should endorse Bernie Sanders 
I:  Webb
Other very minor party and independent candidates TBD

Won't this be fun?


Gadfly said...

Wingnuts are already calling for Paul Ryan to be fired over the budget compromise. Not sure that he would emerge as a brokered convention compromise.

Second, if Bernie's not running indy, that excludes Justice as well as Greens.

And Justice still seems like a Nader-backed vanity/anger site to pee in Greens' cornflakes. I see no other real reason for its existence.

Jim Webb? Blech.


And, as I said on Twitter yesterday, Fuck Bob Bullock.

Some things can't be repeated often enough.

Gadfly said...

Oh, I think I would even vote for Gary Johnson over Hillz, I think. He's generally honest to a fault, he's an actual libertarian, unlike the fake libertarian Paul family, and he calls them as he sees them.