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What is the appeal of the Republican Party to the skeptics of Trumpism?

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What is the appeal of the Republican Party to the skeptics of Trumpism

Recently, I had shared a very generic comment on several political social media threads, advocating that their should be room for assorted conservative-leaning political views in conservative news outlets and publications. Several staunch (and relatively newly-minted) Trump supporters took this position to mean that the current President’s political position is not good enough for me, and that I am essentially advocating for “resistance” within the party. Indeed, overtime some of these supporters have shifted in their own views from thinking that so long as particular conservative positions were met by the administration and the administration embraced the conservative values and fought off progressive attacks they would be happy to becoming firmly convinced that the positions the current administration takes, the fights its chooses, and the methods at its disposal are the only truly conservative views, positions, and methods that exist, and that anything divergent from these expression is either completely unrealistic or undermining the achievements of administration.

That was quite fascinating, because it revealed a great deal about the mindset of the core of the Republican party apparatus and activists at this particular moment in time. It’s worthwhile to take a moment away from the fora where any exploration of this situation is bound to deteriorate into accusations of fascism, totalitarianism, and so forth, and reflect on this mindset – and whether it may have a point. The issue here, of course, is that at least some of such voices are firmly convinced that all other voices within the conservative movement have failed – first, in substance, many of the leading conservatives considered more “moderate” have been intellectual frauds, not true to conservative values. They may also be  political traitors, as likely to aligned with the Democrats as with the right-wingers within their own party. Second, same subset of the Republicans who eschews anything but “Trumpism” at this point as illegitimate and having no place within the party, is concerned that all previous generations of Republicans with other views do not have the fighting skills to respond alternative to the progressive attacks, both in Congress, and throughout the nation.

As we have discussed, however, culturally, it will take people with both deep knowledge of conservatism and creative response tactics, that go beyond name-calling and outright mockery, to outwit a sprawling and blossoming progressive Cultural Apparatus.  The Trumpism proponents, in other words, by focusing on only one type of attack that can be successfully launched, as they see it, are actually limiting their battlefields to the hardcore political realm – where they have already actually lost a few battles, and may be losing more as experienced  Republican lawmakers in Congress announce their retirement one after another, with at least some of them hardline and very respected conservatives.

Admittedly, progressive “Resistance”, sophomoric and harmful to the nation as it is, may actually backfire politically in the upcoming elections, as independents, who may have benefited from the administration’s actual policy come out to support the lawmakers that are getting something done. However, Trumpism as an ideology is a rather confused lot. President Trump’s administration has moved on from its initial hard nationalist position towards a traditional Republican administration, at least in the domestic realm, which is what appears to be on everyone’s minds these days. The foreign policy, on the other hand, is a mish-mash, driven as much by inexperience, as by any ideology or foreign policy vision – and has seen abject failures in Afghanistan, Iraq, Syria, and elsewhere. But that is for separate discussion. President Trump himself is swayed by various voices in his administration, and how he is going to be swayed depends on who is there to sway him, as well as on a host of other factors, that may not be replicable with anyone else.

The more interesting question, then, is not whether the Trumpists are right or wrong to welcome or block certain ideas or alternative voices, including, potentially the ones that they know nothing about, because those voices are a reaction to both the failures of pre-Trumpists, and skeptics of the excesses of the movement. The real issue here is who are the Trumpists themselves, what do they actually stand for, and how long will they outlast the end of the Trump administration’s tenure? It is extremely difficult to try to block out other people, when the person you have build your own outlook around does not have his own adherent views on anything, and essentially acts in concert with many of traditional Republicans of various degrees of conservatives.

If during the campaign of 2016, the Trumpian lot more or less identified itself with the Bannon faction, as the Bannonites have more or less lost their influence, and Steve Bannon himself lost the support of most donors, as well as the administration, they have to contend with the fact that Trump’s advisers now range from essentially liberal Jared & Ivanka, to assorted members of Congress of various degrees of conservatives, to Stephen Miller, the only remaining outpost of Bannonism – for now. With most of the foreign policy, excepting Israel, some aspects of the Iran policy, and counterterrorism, wandering in the wilderness, the Trump supporters are now faced with essentially having a position of “My president, right or wrong – and whatever he decides at the moment is right”.

The proclivity to embrace increasingly shrill and crazy candidates for the down ticket, however, is a passing fad, because it’s at odds with the President’s own increasingly traditional positioning on most matters, including, with the exception of tweets, and interpersonal relationships, most policy matters. Trump has made somewhat of truce with his former primary opponents and other critics – and that’s a good thing, because many of them have been steering him in the direction of the best positions his administration has taken so far. For that reason, the tendency of some of the Trump, supporters who were late to the game, to bash Trump’s former opponents as failures makes about as much political sense as progressive “Resistance” to a legitimate president. The administration is composed not just of Trump, but all of his advisers, everyone who executes his policies – and everyone who is focused on getting the job done. While political donors and activists are stuck on ax grinding, the people in power are settling in towards governance, and moving past old election gripes until such time as they become relevant again. In other words, President Trump is leaving a good portion of his own base behind, not in terms of election promises, but in terms of his administration’s political maturity and advancement.

So what does it mean for Republicans and ex-Republicans who’ve been turned off by excesses of Trumpism, or by the worst of Trump supporters, or by the seeming transformation of the party? The answer is simple – it means patience. For all President Trump’s personal shortcomings, the administration is taking many positions that any of the other REpublican candidates would have taken  – much to my relief. That means that the party is not being destroyed by factionalism, and that, surprisingly and imperceptibly, it is actually unifying – and increasingly around a more conservative platform, to the joy of many people. Those who have not quite yet moved on from the initial bitterness and infighting, will be forced to do so sooner or later – first, because the administration needs all the allies it can get; second, if they want to party to grow, rather than to shrink, they will have to sooner or later find a way to rebuild the burned bridges to the well-meaning critics (not the Resistors, obviously), and third, because “this too shall pass”. Inevitably, as the administration s hifts in a more traditional direction, input from experienced individuals who share the same ultimate visioned will be more welcomed, and after the administration is over, it is the people who have contributed to making it a success, not the people who have tried to turn it into a failure that will enjoy popular support and run for higher office. The room at the table for voices who want to be at that table is only a matter of time, and the most shrill and hostile voices, will eventually be outnumbered, because, let’s face it, when the only thing you stand for is reactionism to everything you don’t like, anyone who is working towards something constructive, will find a way to build around your corner of bitterness and upwards.

In other words, the State of the Union is strong, and the State of the Republican Party, though weakened by decades of poor candidates and unprepared members, will get stronger.  We are in a good shape, and the restoration of the Party of Ideas is officially on.

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1 Comment

1 Comment

  1. ed

    February 1, 2018 at 11:29 pm

    You are dreaming.

    Your post ASSUMES that “all conservatives will fall into line and join the TrumpTrain”. Wrong.

    Your post ASSUMES that conservatives will “come back” to the GOP because “they have no other choice”. Wrong. Trump and Priebus took care to burn all bridges in Cleveland in 2016 when they openly bragged about not wanting conservatives in “Their Party” anymore.

    Your post ASSUMES that ‘conservative’ == ‘Republican’. Wrong. “Republican” now stands more for “Trumpism” and all the lack of morality, lack of decency, lack of responsibility that that implies. There is a new party coming on-line – the Federalist Party. Many former Republicans (including myself) have left the GOP behind and have no intent to return.

    If the GOP can so easily and casually reject the conservative values in their own platform, I have no more in common with them or any more use for them. I will even vote against them (possibly for some of the less radical Democrats) until the Federalists come fully on-line with candidates.

    Your post is one expecting conservative Christians to ignore our principles and “support” (ie: approve of, lend aid to) Trump and his various illegal / unethical activities. That will not happen.

    The GOP was warned that alenating their base was a bad move during the Cleveland Convention. They ignored their base in their zeal and eagerness to get Trump elected. Now thay can pay the price – failure at the polls.

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Democrats

Mapping the Senate in the midst of midterm elections

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Mapping the Senate in the midst of midterm elections

There’s never a stoppage of talk about a Blue Wave in politics. The midterm elections are the rallying beacon for the left. Ever since Democrats acknowledged Trump would assume the Whitehouse, winning the 2018 elections has been a top priority and a great source of rhetoric. In history, there are numerous occasions where the party in power loses midterm elections, leading to all sorts of political havoc. But this doesn’t happen every time. In 2010, Obama lost the House, stopping much of his agenda in its tracks from a legislative point of view. But is Trump doomed to the same fate? In the House, the answer is less certain. The vast amount of open seats gives measure to unpredictability. The Senate, on the other hand holds the power of impeachment and should Democrats really want Trump removed, they would need control.

Current Senate: 51 Republicans, 49 Democrats

North Dakota

The first seat that the Democrats will likely lose is North Dakota. The GOP had nearly twice as many votes than the Democrats in the primary. Heidi Heitkamp won a high turnout election in 2012 by a slim margin of 1%. She needs to build upon that to survive, but can she against a very formidable opponent? Kevin Cramer was also elected to Congress that same year. He won with 12248 more votes than Heitkamp received in a victorious election for the Democrats. In North Dakota, the congressional district is at-large meaning the Senate race and the Congressional race is virtually the same in that the candidate must have statewide appeal in order to win. Cramer has proven his appeal to voters achieving 233980 votes in 2016, 72643 more votes than Heitkamp received. Cramer has the same race, but a different opponent. It is likeliest that North Dakota turns red out of every blue seat. The math just doesn’t look good for the Democrats. On top of that, Heitkamp voted against confirming Kavanaugh, a move that signaled concession.

West Virginia

Joe Manchin has toted a moderate stance, but West Virginia is becoming more Conservative. Joe Manchin, on the other hand is attached to the ever left moving Democratic party. Patrick Morrisey doesn’t seem to have the same post-primary momentum that his counterparts in Trump voting states have had. This can be attributed to Joe Manchin’s likability and his ability to make moves that pander to his voters. His lone Democrat vote for Kavanaugh was a populist move, both cowardly and brave at the same time. It may, in fact, save his campaign. On the flip side, the left may snub Manchin seeing very little difference between the two. This race is a tossup.

Wisconsin

The Primary Election yielded the strongest candidate for the GOP’s chances in November, in stark contrast to Indiana. Leah Vurkmir already has the backing of the well organized Wisconsin GOP, the same GOP that successfully campaigned for Scott Walker during his recall election. This same level of organization already found favor with the more conservative Vurkmir who handily crushed her primary against despite what polling had to say. She’s got game and doesn’t have major scandals holding her down. The Democrats neglected Wisconsin in 2016. So the Republicans better have capitalized off of Hillary’s idle hands. Vurkmir is a great test for the prowess of the GOP in Wisconsin. She makes this race a tossup.

Arizona

This race began with a lot more promise. However, the emergence of Martha McSally does not bode well for Republicans. She is one of the most left leaning Senate candidates among Republicans, and she doesn’t have the military background that John McCain won with, though she is a veteran herself. It’s very likely that many Republicans snub their noses at this obvious RINO of a candidate. The Democrats on the other hand are nominating a candidate who actually supported Kate’s Law, so were dealing with a Joe Manchin level of Democrat rather than a Claire McCaskill. It doesn’t quite energize any bases to have two similar candidates. However Krysten Sinema’s true colors are coming out. Despite a seemingly moderate time in Congress, she is being revealed as far left. She has made statements bashing her own state and the country. As a result, McSally may be pulling ahead. But still this race is a tossup.

Florida

In 2016, the Republicans used the more likable Marco Rubio to maintain the Senate seat. They look to employ the same strategy with Governor Rick Scott. Rick Scott knows how to outperform polling which is what Republicans need in such a time as this. He is capable of winning statewide elections and faces a three term Senator. The GOP can’t run with anything less than a complete professional level campaigner. The Florida GOP is also more organized, similar to Wisconsin. The GOP knows how to win the state and is in the process of solidifying Florida as a red state. Most experts have this race as a tossup, which is why I give the edge to Rick Scott.

Texas

Social media is gunning for Cruz’s seat. Unreliable polls have this race as close. But can the guy who thinks that kneeling for the anthem is patriotic really win a state like Texas? I doubt it. But Ted Cruz will have to work for his reelection, which he will probably enjoy doing. Trump will come to Cruz’s assistance later in the campaign to solidify Trump voters with Cruz. I think Beto’s chances are hyped but losing by single digits are in the realm of likelihood. Ted Cruz will win, especially with Abbott running for reelection.

Indiana

Joe Donnelly won in 2012 due to facing a weak candidate Mike Braun came out of one of the worst Senate primaries of the GOP. Should he win, it would be achievement of the Indiana GOP to carry such a poor candidate to victory. But Trump won Indiana by 20 points. This is a hard race for Donnelly to win, yet Donnelly isn’t the most left Democrat. He is closer to a Manchin than Feinstein, but that might change with his no vote on Kavanaugh. This unpopular move is hard to justify in a state that swung for Trump so heavily. The Indiana GOP should be glad he voted no. Donnelly sabotaging his own chances is way more likely than Braun running a sealed campaign. This race is a tossup.

New Jersey

Bob Menendez may have survived charges related to his corruption, but is one of the most unpopular Senators in the country. Powerful allies have turned on him. Because of his meteoric unpopularity, this race can be considered a tough one. Still New Jersey is heavy on the leftism and Conservatism is little known there. Bob Hugin is no Conservative but will give Menendez a good run if nothing else. Its hard to imagine Republicans stealing a seat in the New Jersey, but its also hard to vote for blatant corruption even if you are a pussy hat wearing soy boy. I think Hugin will lose by a only a slim margin.

Ohio

Jim Renacci was a terrible candidate from the beginning despite easily winning his primary. Trump’s team handpicked him, and he has done nothing to capitalize off this endorsement. Since the primary he has had terrible poll numbers, but the bigger problem is his lack of advertising. The Blaze reports on his lack of ads:

Brown, evidently understanding the seriousness of the challenge from Renacci after Trump won Ohio in 2016, has spent freely on television and radio ads — roughly 25 times more than Renacci has in the time since the May primary.

Brown has spent $12.5 million since May, compared to only $481,000 from Renacci (which paid for ads that ran in June statewide). In 2012, Josh Mandel spent $12 million on broadcast ads in an unsuccessful bid to unseat Brown.

State Republicans can’t figure out what Renacci’s strategy is by spending so little on ads.

Still if Renacci was good for one thing it’s the actions that inspired headlines like this Republican Jim Renacci Defends Decision To Fly On Strip Club Owner’s Private Plane To Meet Religious Leaders. Sherrod Brown saw the red wave and acted accordingly.

Montana

Jon Tester is another Democrat Senator holding a seat where Trump won bigly in 2016. However, like Indiana, this race seems to be a race to the bottom. Jon Tester is an underperformer but Matt Rosendale is seen as a carpetbagger. Rosendale is having some trouble campaigning, so it seems. Perhaps Tester voting against Kavanaugh and Gorsuch will give Rosendale an edge, like Braun in Indiana. Other factors in this race include a potential Libertarian spoiler candidate. This race is a tossup, but perhaps a debate between the candidates will change the tide.

Nevada

This is the second most likely seat to flip blue. Dean Heller is the only Republican up for reelection in a state carried by Hillary Clinton in 2016. Dean Heller is looking for a Kavanaugh bump in what looks like a dead heat of a race. His challenger, Jacky Rosen, is also looking for a Kavanaugh bump. She is the Left’s best potential reinforcement in the Senate. Along with Kavanaugh, Rosen is hedging a bet on Obamacare to sink Heller. It’s a risky strategy, but ultimately this race will be a referendum on these two issues. The California pollution is a major disadvantage for the Republicans in Nevada, rendering their incumbent in a tossup.

Missouri

Claire McCaskill is another unpopular Democrat Senator. Her opponent, Josh Hawley is the darling of the Missouri GOP. This race had major implications from the beginning thus invited a large field of candidates for the primary. Josh Hawley is a likable candidate who won’t make a legitimate rape comment that gave McCaskill the seat in the first place. He even avoided campaigning with a controversial pastor. He doesn’t want people to not like him, thus he waited a long time within his campaign to clearly articulate his positions. Josh Hawley is the Missouri Marco Rubio and should carry the GOP across the finish line. There is a lot of money riding on this election. Other factors in this race may be the confusion with the lawsuit surrounding Missouri’s voter ID law. This race is a tossup on paper, but Hawley will likely take it.

Tennessee

Can the Democrats take this seat away from Republicans? Yes? Tennessee is the third of three seats that have a possibility of flipping blue as part of the Blue Wave? The only problem for leftist is that Phil Bredesen isn’t all that leftist and a victory in this race is not an indication that the country is embracing socialist or anticapitalist policies. Rather Phil Bredesen is perhaps a political unicorn: fiscally conservative and socially moderate. Paige rogers write this much prior to him winning his primary.

Under his tenure, the fiscally conservative Bredesen understood and respected Tennesseans’ preference for low taxes over “government goodies” and did not attempt to force more taxes down our throats. Tennessee also requires a balanced budget, which basically means that the state can’t spend more than it takes in. In a 2011 exit interview, he remarked, “As long as you’re willing to tell people there are certain things you can’t do — you can’t have Massachusetts services and Tennessee taxes … [then there’s an understanding] that Tennessee’s future lies more in being a low-tax state and accepting the level of services that implies.” And so, under the taxation-restrictive environment of Tennessee, he made the most of what he had to work with.

The threat to the GOP is real. Bredesen has even stated that he would have voted for Kavanaugh. Meanwhile, the overrated pop star Taylor Swift is shelling out for him calling Marsha Blackburn, a woman, bad for women. Tennessee is a red state, and Trump supports Marsha Blackburn. Bredesen is playing the Joe Manchin card, but Project Veritas released a video implicating his moderate act as a lie. These are critical advantages. But this race is close. This race is a tossup.

Michigan

John James is a fantastic candidate on paper and a savvy campaigner, but that was in the primary. He will need a lot more than that if he wants to flip a union heavy state. Michigan went for Trump but that was very telling of how bad Hillary Clinton was rather than how popular the Republicans are. If the Republicans win in Michigan, then the Red Wave would be catastrophic. This race is winnable. Tom Rogan describes this race as one to watch.

And it’s clear the Stabenow campaign is growing increasingly concerned. Their focus has shifted away from broad appeals to Michigan voters and toward a narrative that the Republican Party wants to penalize Americans with pre-existing health conditions. It’s a basic fear strategy, devoid of factual foundation, but one they hope will be enough to shut down James’ lead.

And with Kid Rock due to campaign for James next week, the Democrats want to blunt James’ rise before he can catalyze it. James finished very strongly in his primary, after trailing his main GOP opponent for most of the race, and he’d like to pull off a similar feat next month.

Perhaps a Kavanaugh bump paired with some solid campaign ground game will deliver the upset. Just maybe he might do it. But for now, this is a blue seat.

Before Election Day Republicans 42 Democrats 23


I considered this map very liberal (not Left) with its use of tossups. At a glance, the GOP already secures 49 seats, two fewer seats than what they currently hold. A Democratic majority would require the Democrats to win all 9 toss up races along with securing the competitive races that aren’t tossup. The Democrats max out at 51, maybe 52 if they drum up some rape allegations on Ted Cruz; it’s approaching that time in the race if they are going to do that. In contrast the Republicans max out at 59, all of the tossups and a W in both New Jersey and Michigan.

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Democrats

With Stormy Daniels’ lawsuit dismissed, will Michael Avenatti go away?

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With Stormy Daniels lawsuit dismissed will Michael Avenatti go away

Don’t count on it.

Part of me hopes he doesn’t go away.

Stormy Daniels’ lawsuit against President Trump was dismissed by U.S. District Judge S. James Otero today. Adding insult to injury, he ordered her to pay President Trump’s legal fees.

Her notorious lawyer, Michael Avenatti, took to Twitter to attack the decision and post details of the appeal he is filing.

Avenatti took a hit earlier this month when his other high-profile client, Julie Swetnick, essentially had her accusations against Brett Kavanaugh ridiculed or ignored. Some Democrats even speculated Avenatti may have been a GOP plant all along, claiming his actions and the accusations by his client were a turning point that actually helped push through Kavanaugh’s confirmation.

The lawyer has been very public about his ambitions of sitting in the Oval Office. He has done everything short of declaring his intention to seek the Democratic nomination and continues to push himself onto every national news outlet that will have him.

No, Michael Avenatti isn’t going away.

Personally, I hope he sticks around. He will almost certainly be a rabid dog who attacks his fellow Democrats during the primaries, inflicting maximum damage and helping to turn the nomination process into as much of a debacle as everything else he touches.

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Opinions

Can Republicans keep their House majority?

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Can Republicans keep their House majority

At the beginning of the year, most of the momentum and every bit of positive press favored the Democrats to win majorities in both the House and Senate. The positive press is still there; Democrats could run Kermit Gosnell and mainstream media would paint him as a saint. The momentum, however, has shifted towards Republicans.

Is it enough to get them over the hump and retain control of the House of Representatives?

The Senate seems to be safely in their hands. One should not get complacent as a shift in a couple of elections could change the GOP’s fortunes drastically, but at this point it appears the Democrats will actually lose seats instead of winning enough for a majority. The House, on the other hand, is leaning towards the Democrats.

Here are three things the GOP and their voters must do if they’re going to keep majorities in both chambers of Congress.

  1. Focus on races they can win – This is going to offend some. Nobody wants to admit defeat, but anyone down by double digits this late in the game needs a true October Surprise to reverse their fortunes. State and national groups must pull out and redirect efforts elsewhere. For the most part this is already being done but I’ve seen resources spent on longshots as recently as yesterday.
  2. Put safe candidates on the trail with vulnerable candidates nearby – Mitt Romney is going to win his Senate race. Mia Love is currently tied in Salt Lake County. Romney needs to focus all of his efforts helping Love win her election. A Senate seat is still a Senate seat whether it’s won by 3% or 30%. Currently, Romney is up by about 30%.
  3. Get conservative national news outlets to cover close Congressional races – This is the most important thing that’s currently not being done. National Review, for example, has article rightly highlighting close Senate races with attack articles against Jon Tester and Kyrsten Sinema on their front page. I’m not suggesting they shouldn’t continue to help hold the Senate, but where are stories about Danny Tarkanian who is currently tied with Susie Lee in Nevada’s 3rd District? A National Review article would go a long way towards helping Randy Hultgren padd to his 4% lead in Illinois’ 14th District. These national news outlets have clout that local publications do not.

The Senate is sexy. It’s the stepping stone for presidential candidates. It gets to help President Trump put conservative judges in the various courts. Senators get all the press and the best seats at church. But the House has a different type of influence that is arguably more important. It should not be ignored.

Perhaps the most motivating reason Republicans needs to do everything they can to retain control of the House is that it will demotivate Democrats. They will be completely deflated if they can’t make it out of their first Trumpocalypse-era election without moving the needle. On the flip side, winning control of the House will make them push even harder for 2020 and 2022. They’ll point to the GOP’s House victory in 2010 as the beginning of the Republican Party’s rise to power and challenge their voters to do the same thing but more rapidly.

Most analysts say the House is clearly leaning towards the Democrats. Of course, these same analysts were more certain Hillary Clinton would win the Presidency than they are about the 2018 House races. Don’t believe polls. Get out and make a real impact.

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