Quo Vadis, Republicans? Three Reads for Today, Along with Reflections

Quo Vadis, Republicans?

Tim Miller, CPAC Was the Real Republican Party All Along: It turns out that the conservative Star Wars bar was actually representative of the Republican base.

Mr. Miller hilariously reminisces about the Good Old Days at CPAC, and repents of his former belief that the Republican base was mainly made up of reasonable, moral, principled people.

Joe Walsh, It’s Time to Plant a New Flag: America needs a “radically centrist, common sense, let’s get shit done party.”

Mr. Walsh is a former Republican congressman who used to specialize in performative assholery. More recently, however, he has felt the mantle of statesmanship descend upon his narrow shoulders.

But, all that said, we must remember that even a stopped watch is right twice a day. Doesn’t mean Mr. Walsh is necessarily right. Means he might be right.

In the cited article, Walsh argues that it’s time for the respectable people to just cede the Republican brand and organization to the crazy folks. Instead, the respectable right wingers should form a new political party: “Think of a populist message with centrist policy solutions.” 

N.Y. Times, Allies of Rep. Adam Kinzinger launch new super PAC to support Republicans who have bucked Trump

For every action, there is an equal and opposite reaction.


Clear thinking begins by distinguishing among things we’re pretty sure we know, things that are reasonable working hypotheses, and things that are speculation.

Also, when dealing with a massively screwed up situation, clear thinking requires a picture of what success for our side would look like, given all the facts and circumstances.

One: Some Things We’re Pretty Sure We Know. (a) The majority of traditional Republican voters support Trump and believe the Big Election Lie, just as they believed the Big Birther Lie. Likewise, the majority of traditional Republican voters are attracted, not repelled, by all of Trump’s repellant features, and those of his most egregious supporters. (b) Traditional Republican voters are a large minority of our national voting population. (c) Some traditional Republican voters do not embrace the Big Lie, and find the repellant things about Trump repellant to them. (d) The Big Election Lie believers do not appear to want the reality-based folks to stay in the same party, and are going to do everything possible to drive them away. Given that the extremists are the clear majority of the Republican minority, they are highly likely to succeed in their effort to purify their party of anyone in touch with reality. (e) Therefore, it is highly likely that the organization that will continue to call itself the Republican Party will evolve from a large minority into a somewhat smaller minority of our voting population.

Two: Reasonable Working Hypotheses. The split between the God Emperor’s worshippers and the reality-based among the traditional Republican voters may be about two to one, it may be about 3 to 1, and it may be about 4 to 1. The 2022 election will give us a lot of useful information pertinent to this question. But we don’t know for sure right now.

On the other hand, we do know that anyone who makes blanket statements about all of the traditional Republican voters is simply wrong.

Three: What Choice Does a Reasonable Republican Politician Have? There are several, but we can be pretty sure, I think, that one of these is not to stand on principle, invite all the Trumpies to go pound sand, and just, by force of will, to bring back the old Republican Party of blessed memory (to them).

Nope. Won’t work. That dog won’t hunt.

Another dog that won’t hunt is the option just to put your head down and refuse to commit about whether you support the God Emperor.

That leaves:

  • retiring from public service,
  • turning into a pretend Trumpy yourself,
  • standing on principle, until you’re primaried out of office, and—in the meantime—being booed and hissed at every Republican gathering,
  • taking the R away from your name and substituting an I, or maybe, in some cases,
  • taking the R away from your name and substituting a D.

BTW, we already have two folks in the Senate with an I after their name. No reason why we couldn’t have some more.

As an “Independent” or a “moderate Democrat”, you could continue to represent the interests of the wealthy and of corporate America, you could actually participate in the governing process, and, in some states, you might well be a viable candidate, especially if the Trumpies select some really objectionable to run on the Republican ticket. These are not unattractive options.

Four: What Would Success on Our Side Look Like in 2022 and Going Forward, All Things Considered? I focus on the Senate. My answer is that the picture of reasonably attainable success would be a Senate with

  • about 55 or so real Democratic senators,
  • about 20, give or take, raving maniacs—or, more likely, people who do a good job pretending to be raving maniacs—who have no role in the legislative process and who spend their time speaking at rallies and appearing on extremist “news” outlets, and
  • some 25 senators who—whether they’re “Democrats,” “Independents,” or members of Joe Walsh’s new third party—are in touch with reality, represent the interests of the wealthy and corporate America, are “pro-life,” don’t want gun control, and think that fundamentalist Christian bakers should enjoy a constitutional right not to sell fancy cakes for gay weddings.