David Frum: Will the Republican Party Survive the 2016 Election?

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CK MacLeod

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  1. …where better to wage a long, grinding defensive campaign than in… the statehouses?

    Of course, that’s not a particularly sound plan in initiative states. In 2016, Colorado will vote on a state single-payer health insurance plan. I expect it to fail, but it got enough signatures to get on the ballot in a remarkably short time. The important thing is that it’s a much more liberal proposal than could be seriously considered in the legislature. Colorado will probably also vote yet again on a personhood-begins-at-conception amendment sometime in the next few years. That’s a much more conservative proposal than could be seriously considered in the legislature. In Arizona, the legislature basically has to keep their hands off of initiative-passed statutes. A couple of conservative Arizona legislators are advocating legalization of marijuana by the legislature in order to moot the need for an initiative and retain some control.

    Some things seem like a shoo-in. Within a few years, I expect to see marijuana legalization, independent redistricting schemes, and universal vote-by-mail be the rule rather than the exception in western states. Most of it will be done by initiative, or by the legislature acting out of fear of initiatives.Report

    • Politicians in California, sometimes with the help of the judiciary, have shown themselves quite adept at nullifying initiatives. Prop 8 was only one example. It is a typical irony that this once-upon-a-time centerpiece of “Progressivism” and particularly of leftwing populist Progressivism has been used in many places by the Right, but it works both ways. In any event, the American conservative theory of government that goes under the misnomer “federalism” has less to say for or against states and localities going as left or right as they want, by whatever process they want, than it does about federal government, especially via the Executive, imposing policies reflecting a particular tendency on the entire nation.

      The “broken” party’s brokenness, which appears obvious to those left-liberals who tend to generalize upward, is functionally much less important to “constitutional conservatives.” Or, put differently, it’s much more consistent with their ideology to sacrifice success at the presidential level for success on the state and local level, if forced to choose. A nullified presidency and paralyzed congress – and the progressive decay of the whole political order – may in many regards suit them, thus Frum’s point about the presidency (a point some of us have been making for years). There are well-known exceptions to this rule, of course – particularly regarding security policy and what the Right and especially the populist Right tend to view as related, fundamental purposes of and justifications for government. The exceptions still produce contradictions – a small government but a big Pentagon is one of the most obvious; issues of supposed fundamental morality or rights that were part of “the deal” from the beginning – but conservatives (or the saner ones) do not promise utopia or life without contradictions.Report

    • Avatar miguel cervantes in reply to Michael Cain says:

      Ah hope springs eternal, the failure of vermont and hawaii, somehow didn’t happen, and you’re wrong, when has a progressive policy measure been repealed by the courts in recent times, only crimethink like prop 187, prop 8, SB 1070, yadda yadda,Report

  2. Avatar Barry says:

    What I expect is that the GOP will concentrate on keeping the wrong people from voting, using their control of a lot of state houses, and the GOP SCOTUS’ clear support.Report

  3. Avatar Stillwater says:

    I didn’t read the whole thing (I will), but this struck me as balls on

    White Middle Americans express heavy mistrust of every institution in American society: not only government, but corporations, unions, even the political party they typically vote for… They aren’t necessarily superconservative. They often don’t think in ideological terms at all. But they do strongly feel that life in this country used to be better for people like them—and they want that older country back.

    Now, I’m neither a conservative nor a Famous Pundit Who Can Spout With Impunity, so I’d temper the enthusiastic proclamentarianism Frum adopts. Still I agree.

    Also, I’m not sure why this type of split should be viewed as presenting an existential crisis for the GOP. Hell, if pinheads were justified in thinking in those terms then the Bush Admin shoulda been viewed as the GOP’s death knell. But it warn’t and it din’t. They’re a resilient bunch, conservative voters, aligned by a seemingly implacable hatred of the Dems. Did you see McCain’s popular vote total in aught 8? They’ll get thru this just fine.Report

  4. Avatar miguel cervantes says:

    If it’s not the GOP there will be another party to come along, leaving the example of the Whigs, the Progressive Conservatives collapsed under Campbell, then Reform took over the core of it’s voters, yes there was the freakout with Stockwell Day,coming back with Harper, who lasted a decade, until the tragic interlude that will be Prime Minister Zoolander, aka Trudeau the lesser,

    Now Australia faces a crisis in their liberal party, as the foolish Turnbull is being lead down the garden path, weakening the support he needs,Report

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