In a move that should surprise precisely no one, Donald Trump is on this third showrunner of 2016. By naming the editor of a famously bigoted and wildly inaccurate website to the post of campaign manager, Trump is nailing his colors to the mast. This is not a shuck, this is not a gimmick, this is who he is and these are who his fans and supporters are. It’s the distilled essence of what the GOP has been running on and refining itself into for decades: white, rural, aging, male, uninformed, and hardly enlightened on race or gender. From Gerald Ford who supported the ERA, to Ronald Reagan who was willing to regularize the status of illegal immigrants, to George W. Bush who actively pushed for immigration reform and a GOP outreach to Latino voters, we’ve come around to “build the wall and Trump the bitch” as the whole of the Republican platform.
I have exactly zero sympathy. I’ve limned in excruciating detail before how the Republican party got itself into this situation, how they built their base in talk-radio listeners and message-board trolls, and they are hopefully getting what they deserve in November. My problem is with what happens afterward. Michelle Cottle has already explained it, in the Atlantic, but it’s worth paying attention to:
Nothing is getting any better.
There’s not going to be any remaking of the GOP. A bad enough blowout, with Trump going his own way, will allow GOP leadership to shrug and dismiss it as a one-time fluke event – and in the meantime, they’ll gladly pull on the same ideas and memes and sloganeering for 2018 and 2020. If the money’s in the chase, then this is a golden opportunity to cash in by weaponizing twenty-five years of anti-Clinton conspiracy theory and propaganda. Get ready for at least four full years of nonstop hearings, impeachment demands, and media caterwauling that will make the entire birtherism debacle a longed-for memory. After all, Trump won’t have anything else to do with his time other than to use his new-best-friend media outlet to keep peddling his “stabbed in the back” routine to the halfwits and race-baiters who got him to the nomination in the first place.
It may sound harsh and cruel and partisan, but at the federal level it is a fact and it is indisputable: Democrats now govern and Republicans stand back and throw shit. It has not changed in the eight years of the Obama administration, and it will not change one whit under Hillary Clinton, and it will not change until the Republican party ceases to function as currently constituted. It’s a teardown, but it’s going to do its best to tear the country down first.