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March 26, 2018

Sean Trende of Real Clear Politics: The Establishment Wing and Its Chattering-Class Champions Are Absurd to Panic About The GOP Having a "Populist" Appeal

As I've said on this blog and off it, all successful GOP campaigns have had a populist appeal, and so too have almost all successful Democrat campaigns.

From his Twitter feed (@seantrende):

I think people who see Trumpism as something aberrant in the Republican Party haven't though much about the history of the Republican Party. Unless they're NeverTrumpers, in which case they're in a state of denial. 1/

Successful Republican campaigns and presidencies have *always* involved an integration of the party's populist and establishment wings. Nixon, Reagan, and to an extent W have all had ties to both wings, and balanced them well. 2/

The campaigns that have been heavily weighted toward the establishment track? Ford, H.W., Dole, Romney? Not so successful. 3/

With the exception of H.W.'s '88 campaign, which was of course a campaign for Reagan's third term. What Trump basically represents is the antithesis of Romney '12: a populist campaign without the establishment wing. 4/

Mid-to-longterm, I don't think this strategy works either, unless the populists find a way to build the cross-racial blue collar coalition that eluded the Post-CRA Southern Democrats. Good luck with that. 5/

But please, spare us the "taking the party back from Trumpism." The Republican Party completely cleansed of populist impulses is basically three upper middle class white guys in a think tank cubicle. 6/

and two of them are going to vote for Gary Johnson anyway. The answer, here and Europe, is to do what establishment groups in two-party systems have done with populist movements since the 1800s: synthesize. 7/

And if you can't do that, no problem, then you're a Democrat or an Independent. But neither party can survive without some kind of appeal to their populist base. It's delusional to suggest otherwise. 8/8

Establishment chatterer Matt K. Lewis agreed:

This is true--which is why Jeb and Kasich's messaging strategy didn't make much sense.

And Sean Trende agreed back:


*zero* sense. Republicans can't win long-term with just the white working class, but they can't win with just the suburbs, either.

I think it was Michael Brennan Dougherty (though I could be mistaken) who described the Establishment's/Ruling Class' demands as having become "immodest."

I like the understatement of that -- their demands became immodest.

At some point, the Establishment decided on a Judge Smails response to the "Hobbits" and "Wacko Birds" of the Tea Party: You'll get nothing and like it!

They considered themselves Masters of the Universe and believed they could just steamroll the non-Establishment part of the party using the same techniques their close cousins, the Liberal Establishment Class, used against conservatives: Denigration, contempt, and delegitmization intended to convince dissenters that it was the Establishment's way or the highway.

The GOP would be refashioned into a much-less conservative party in order to appeal to surburban married women who were swing voters between Democrats and Republicans. The more conservative, more populist elements of the party would simply be denigrated as Obama denigrated them, as backwards backwoods racists who need to be educated and socialized into a more liberal, suburban/urban elite view of the world.

This would win elections and, more importantly, it would please the GOP's own Establishment Ruling Class, which itself was more Urban Liberal in its orientation.

This group has always found the Tea Party and most conservatives socially embarrassing -- witness their strident defense of John Boehner and insistence that Tea Party riff-raff like Mark Meadows and Jim Jordan were too extreme and bumpkinish to ever serve as Speaker of the House -- and was very excited about the prospect of bringing the ill-trained dogs of Tea Party conservatism to heel and turning them into purse puppies.

This is, and always has been, much about class and less about policy. Witness Jen Rubin's whiplash-by-proxy heel-turns on virtually every policy claim she used to pretend to believe in order to locate herself firmly within the orthodoxy of her class. Policy means, apparently, relatively little to Jen Rubin, or Bret Stevens, or the next "super-conservative" to "evolve" in his office at The Atlantic; the overriding imperative is class loyalty and class conformity.

I shrieked for at least two years, from 2014 to 2016, about the coming GOP crack-up, and said a hundred times that while the Establishment had the current power to steamroll more conservative, more populist, and more rural voices to ram its own liberalish, establishment, and suburban/urban agenda down the rest of the party's throats, it would not retain that ability forever: Because you cannot treat your allies and your supposed political partners in the same way you treat your political enemies.

Of course you can treat your political enemies this way, telling them they'll have nothing and like it, and denigrating and delegitimizing them.

But somewhere along the way, the GOP Establishment began treating its actual enemies, the Democrat Party and liberal establishment, as their political allies (witness how easy Paul Ryan made it for the Democrats on the omnibus vote), and began treating their political allies/junior partners (only junior because the Establishment wouldn't treat them as full partners) as political enemies.

You can't treat your natural allies as enemies and expect them to remain allies.

A revolt was inevitable, but the #SmartSet which claims to Rilly Rilly Understand Politics could not understand this elemental point about politics -- that you share power in a coalition, you do not take all for yourself and tell your "partners" to suck it -- and could not foresee what was, to the Hobbits, Wackadoos, Deplorables and Bitter Clingers completely obvious and clear as day.

So we are where we are, and most of the "Smart People" in the party still don't understand why, more than two years after Trump's hostile takeover of the GOP.

But they're the Smart People and Experts. You should listen to the Smart People and Experts, even when it's obvious they're stupid, deranged, and ignorant, because they are the Smart People and Experts and what are you? Just a Deplorable Bitter Clinger who's forgotten to obey his betters.

Marriages take work -- political marriages especially. You can't constantly cheat on your partner and treat outsiders as more important, and try to win every single dispute and make every single decision within the marriage, and expect that marriage to survive.

This is obvious. But the #SmartSet is so damned smart and clever they fail to understand the simplest, most obvious things.

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posted by Ace of Spades at 05:42 PM

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