Will 2016 be the year the GOP finally implodes?

In the latest polls Donald Trump has his biggest lead so far and Ted Cruz is solidly in second place. Should either of these candidates win the the Republican nomination it will mark a seismic shift and possible fracture of the Republican party that may very well split it apart for good. It will signal the end of establishment control of the party.

Yes, I know the Republicans still control both the House and the Senate as well as controlling 32 governorships as well as the legislatures in most of those states. Besides the White House, the GOP seems to be a party of unity and strength. But behind the scenes the party is deeply divided. Besides a passionate hatred of President Obama there really isn’t a lot that unites the extreme factions within the GOP.

They can’t agree on immigration, foreign policy, taxes, educational policy or pretty much anything else. Now granted no one really knows where Donald Trump really stands on any issue besides immigration since he refuses to give any specifics beyond “Making America great again” and telling the American people just how great he is.

Trump did release one very interesting nugget at the latest debate when he said:

“In my opinion, we’ve spent $4 trillion trying to topple various people that frankly, if they were there and if we could have spent that $4 trillion in the United States to fix our roads, our bridges, and all of the other problems; our airports and all of the other problems we’ve had, we would have been a lot better off, I can tell you that right now.”

Carly Fiorina very correctly responded “That is exactly what President Obama said,” she declared. “I’m amazed to hear that from a Republican presidential candidate.” And she’s right. That is exactly what Democrats have been saying since Bush misguidedly toppled a dictator that had nothing to do with 9/11 and laid the seeds for the creation of ISIS which was founded predominantly by former Iraqi troops and commanders from Saddam’s army who suddenly had lots of weapons but no jobs.

Have some elements within the Republican party gone so far right they are now meeting the far left at least in terms of admitting the mistake of invading Iraq? Trump, Cruz, and Rand Paul who account for more than 51% of the GOP Polls are all against toppling Bashar al-Assad which again seems like an extraordinary shift.

Trump represents a large element of the Republican party who are opposed to free trade and the Trans-Pacific partnership pact which are also unpopular among many Bernie Sanders supporters. There used to be a time when the party, supporters, big business, and the U.S. Chamber of Commerce were pretty much in sync but those days are gone. We now have an “establishment” GOP wing and a tea party wing that hate each other nearly as much as they hate Obama. They even call the establishment faction RINO’s.

Not long ago I also didn’t think Trump had a real chance to win the nomination but I reevaluated my thinking to the point I now think he will win. Jeb! has floundered and looks pretty pathetic. His “low energy” moniker has stuck and people now realize George actually was the smarter of the brothers. Jeb is toast which is no great loss so we at least owe Trump thanks for possibly saving us from another potential President Bush.

I am not sure America would ever have voted for a Bush 3.0 presidency considering no Republican since Ronald Reagan (way back in 1984) has been elected from any other family besides the Bush’s. If you want to create a political dynasty you better have some pretty impressive ones that came before you and Dad and George weren’t all that impressive to put it mildly.

Hillary doesn’t really suffer as much from that dynasty label because she isn’t related to Bill Clinton by blood and he is still a very popular former president with an outstanding record and a favorability rating above 60%. Hillary’s eight years behind the scenes in the White House will also likely be viewed as valuable on the job experience with the added comfort of knowing she can lean on Bill for advice if ever needed. In troubling times she seems like a very safe bet compared to wild cards like Trump or Cruz.

Who are the alternatives? Chris Christie seems to want to start WWIII with Russia and his knowledge of foreign policy seems as limited as Ben Carson. How can you not know that King Hussein has been dead since 1999? The king of Jordan’s name is Abdullah II and for Christie to get this wrong was truly shocking.

John Kasich seems to think he can angrily karate chop his way to the top of the polls while screaming O-H-I-O a million times but his poll numbers are stagnant. Carson’s numbers are plummeting by the day. Fiorina doesn’t have a prayer because people realize she nearly destroyed HP with that idiotic Compaq acquisition. Everyone else are barely even registering with the exception of Marco Rubio.

Both Ted Cruz and Marco Rubio think they will outlast Trump and have begun attacking each other but they may have underestimated The Donald just like all the rest of us. Voters today don’t seem to care when politicians blatantly switch positions, as long as they do it with a lot of confidence and bravado which Trump has in spades.

Make no mistake that both Cruz and Rubio hold positions even more to the right of Trump they are just more reluctant to boldly proclaim them out loud. Trump would likely shift a bit to the left on numerous positions in a general elections because historically he has held numerous progressive views. I doubt GOP voters will forgive Rubio for his Gang of 8 immigration label and Cruz and Trump will make sure to remind them of that every day.

The GOP is getting older, whiter, and a lot angrier. It is increasingly becoming dominated by people more concerned about ISIS than the constitutional rights of others. It is an electorate convinced the government is the problem and therefore wants to elect politicians intent on doing absolutely nothing to address problems. It still can’t accept the fact that gay people can now marry and abortion is legal. The alliance with the Tea Party created a Frankentrump that is now out of their control.

I quit

This is nothing new. Senator Joseph McCarthy took on the Republican Party establishment for betraying the conservative cause back in 1950 and represented many of the very same views as the modern Tea Party. Like McCarthy, Trump and Cruz both seem to want to stage a hostile takeover of the GOP and the polls suggest they are doing just that.

At this point the only real hurdle to a Trump or Cruz nomination would be poll numbers suggesting neither have a hope in hell of defeating Hillary in the general. Only then will people like Kasich, Christie, or Rubio start to look like viable but bitter alternatives. Regardless of who wins the GOP nomination though, this civil war is just getting started and I don’t see how much longer factions that hate each other and are so diametrically opposed on so many issues can stand united in one party.

Roger Miliken is laughing in his grave and would be pleased. The Republican party of old that was a coalition of wealthy businessman, northeastern liberals, populists moderates and conservatives mostly from the Midwest and West who often were socially liberal have all but gone or been pushed out. Eisenhower, Reagan, even Nixon wouldn’t stand a chance to win a Republican primary in 2016 as they would all be viewed as RINO’s.

Regardless who wins the Republican nomination, the demographics are not on their side. Many states are purple and it’s only a matter of time before they turn blue. It may not happen in 2016 or even in 2020, but states like Georgia, North Carolina, Arizona,Texas, and others will eventually be up for play regardless of gerrymandering and other stall tactics. In 2012, Republican presidential nominee Mitt Romney won 59% of white voters, the highest percentage of any Republican challenging an incumbent president in the history of exit polling and still lost the election.

Roughly 2.75 million people who voted for Republican candidate Mitt Romney and some 2.3 million of Barack Obama’s supporters will have died by the next election. That amounts to over 400,000 more voters who voted Republican compared to Democrats who won’t be at the polls in 2016 and that will continue. Fifty-seven percent of Millenials lean more liberal on social issues like gay marriage with 68 percent in support, marijuana legalization (69 percent in favor), and providing a legal path to citizenship for illegal immigrants with 55 percent in favor. Only 36 percent of Millennials consider themselves “religious.” All of those issues mean they are more likely to vote Democrat.

Groups that form the core of GOP support—older whites, blue-collar whites, married people and rural residents—are declining as a proportion of the electorate. Groups that lean Democratic—minorities, young people and single women—are growing and people like Trump and Cruz are sending even more of them away possibly for good with hate rhetoric.

Even though it is still very early and much could happen over the coming months I will make a prediction that Trump will eventually be selected as the Republican nominee. I will go even further and predict that Hillary will defeat Trump in perhaps the biggest landslide since Reagan’s victory over President Carter.

Excuse me now as I go grab some popcorn and watch the show. I am reminded by an old proverb known as the Chinese curse even though oddly enough it isn’t Chinese at all. It is still very accurate for the upcoming election. “May you live in interesting times.”

 

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