2016: GOP Lessons

“What Will Republicans Learn from 2016?” ask NR’s Jim Geraghty:

If Trump wins the nomination, what lasting ideological impact will his success have on the GOP?

Trump’s campaign represents nothing less than an attempt to completely redefine the Republican coalition that has survived more-or-less intact since Ronald Reagan was president. No less a figure than Rush Limbaugh has argued that Trump’s success proves the mass of voters traditionally thought of as the Republican base aren’t inherently conservative.

“The Republican Party establishment does not understand this,” Limbaugh said on January 20. “They do not know who their conservative voters are. They’ve overestimated their conservatism, and by that is meant they think they’re dyed-in-the-wool conservative theoreticians absorbed in such things as the free market and all these other bells and whistles, and they’re not. They’re not liberal. They’re not Democrat. . . . Nationalism and populism have overtaken conservatism in terms of appeal.”…

Nationalism, I would argue, haven’t “overtaken” conservatism. Rather, nationalism is a different kind of conservatism.

There’s considerable evidence that nationalism and populism haven’t overtaken conservatism in terms of appeal; Trump has won about 38 percent of the primary votes so far, and he’s getting demolished in the aforementioned general-election polls.

Geraghty is committing something of an ad hominem fallacy here. Trump is not identical to nationalism. As a somewhat unsavory character, he has eclipsed all other candidates in terms of representing a variation of nationalism. Many voters, including myself, have voted for him for this reason. Not too long ago, I voted for a man whom, a year ago, I thought was a circus clown. This is largely the result of the continual paucity of GOP alternatives.

Will Republicans learn the right lessons from 2016 if they lose?

After every defeat, some voices of the losing party inevitably look for the most soothing and self-congratulatory explanations. In 2004, 2010, and 2014, Democrats assured themselves that they lost because they were unwilling to play dirty the way the Republicans did, or because their ideas were too sophisticated and wonkish to compete with the Republicans’ bumper-sticker slogans.

In light of the demoralizing food fight that this year’s cycle has become, the grim outlook for any GOP contender against the Clintons, and the seeming intractability of the Democratic advantage in the Electoral College, there’s little sign that Republicans learned anything useful from Mitt Romney’s defeat in 2012. The party appears set to have even less appeal to minorities, women, and young voters than it did then.

That last sentence is astonishing. Geraghty parrots here the infamous RNC ‘autopsy report’ after Romney’s loss, which is to basically capitulate on ‘comprehensive immigration reform’ in order to ‘win over’ Hispanics, treated therein as a monolithic, one issue voting bloc.

For starters, that Trump may pull upwards of 25% of the black vote in a general election, more than double any Republican candidate in modern history, is lost on Geraghty.

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