Republican Positioning

Question: 

Are we witnessing the end of the Republican party?

Gary's Answer: 

Yes at least as the Republicans have been positioned for the last sixty years, that is, during most of my lifetime. I write from the perspective of strategic positioning since that is my particular area of expertise.

The end of the familiar Republican Party came quickly, starting slowly with the Tea-Party movement about seven years ago but it ending suddenly with the election of Trump two years ago.

All that is left now is the kicking and screaming of the traditional Republican as they either leave the stage (McCain and Flake) or are dragged into the new Republican party. The new party is being shaped in Trump’s image or, more precisely, by his voters

Trump’s was not elected by Republicans at all. He was elected by people who traditionally didn’t vote. The biggest issue with regard to the future of the Republican Party is whether or not this group will continue to vote and vote Republican. If they don’t, the Republican Party will cease to exist because Trump (or maybe just time) has destroyed the traditional Republican base.

Traditionally, who voted in America? The majority did not. Why not? For the same reason, I didn’t care about politics for most of my life. I had other concerns: my job, my family, etc. Who did vote? Those who supported traditional institutions, the Republican base, and those who wanted new government institutions that would do more for the people, the Democratic base. Regular, everyday people didn’t vote. Regular people didn’t vote both happy with the existing institutions but unafraid of how they might change.

Over time, those supporting traditional institutions because more elitist, because these were the people for whom the system was working. But, over time, the unity of this group of elites broke down. For both groups, the traditional snobbery based on wealth creating social position broke down. For some, the appeal of the middle-class lifestyle was more attractive than social position. Others found a new, more modern form of snobbery more attractive.

The Kavanaugh/Blasey Ford saga was a great illustration of the split. Kavanaugh and Blasey Ford were both children of privileged. But for whatever reason, Kavanaugh embraced the traditional values of the middle class: drinking beer, having a stable family, coaching children sports, going to church, etc.: the stuff of middle America. Blasey Ford went another way. She embraced what she sees as a superior form of values to those of the middle class.

This new class of elites—now the only class of elites—are just as privileged as the old, but their primary form of superiority is not just material but morale as well. They are the successful people in the big cities, especially those in glamorous industries: government, law, large corporations, the media, show business, high-tech, sports, and education. This is the source of their wealth, but their moral superiority comes from the fact that they see themselves as the downtrodden: the Elites of the Aggrieved. Half of them feel downtrodden because they are women, others because of their race, national heritage, sexual orientation, their religion or lack of it, their love of the environment, or simply because they are American and, for them, America is the villain of world history.

This new elite claims to represent suffering people of different races, national origins, religions, genders, and the ecosystem, but none of this new elite are actually suffering themselves, except emotionally from carrying the cares of the world on their backs. They naturally want their government to carry this burden for them. They do not support Republicans and traditional values and institutions.

Where does this leave the Republican Party? Trump is not carrying the cares of the world on his back. Nor does he want his government to do so. Despite his background and wealth, he, like Kavanaugh, has been co-opted by middle-class values. He doesn’t understand the concept of moral superiority, not even in theory. Nothing in his character or manner is remotely aristocratic.

As I said, Trump was not elected by Republicans. He destroyed the traditional Republican Party. He was elected by people that are no more privileged than the local plumber or mechanic.

These people do not normally vote. The first sign we saw of them in politics since the 30s was in the Tea-Party movement, which was hated by the traditional, very aristocratic Republicans like Bush, McCain, Romney, and every other Republican Senator. The Republican thought they had killed off the Tea Party, with a big assist from Obama.

And they got Trump. There was no one else left to vote Republican except the common plebes. The only questions are: Will these people keep voting? Will they keep supporting Republicans?