The Only Alternative

Our very favorite reader is a reluctant supporter of President Donald Trump..He no longer musters any defense of Trump against Trump’s dishonesty and incompetence and corruption crudity, but he feels even greater disdain for the Democratic Party and is continually frustrated that we offer no alternative.
Alas, there is no alternative at the moment, except to begin the difficult process of creating a far better alternative in the future.That means helping the Republican Party of Trump go down in flames,
then trying to revive the Party of Lincoln and Grant and McKinley and Eisenhower and Reagan from the ashes.
America needs a sane center-right party, and always has and always will. Not just to thwart the most destructive ambitions of the left, but to formulate new innovations to improve America’s economy and culture. The party’s economic policy must bemixed but mostly free system based on facts, science and well-tested theories, and not whatever Trump’s gut instincts intuit on a certain day. A sane center-right party would reject Trump’s protectionist trade policies, which favor certain American industries over others and had the manufacturing sector in recession even before the coronavirus and somehow never resulted in those promised greatest deals anyone had ever seen.

The new Republican party should seek to maintain and strengthen the international institutions and the military and trade alliances mostly kept the world peaceful and prosperous since World War II, and stop antagonizing invaluable allies over perceived personal slights and aggrandizing the brutal dictators arrayed against us in exchange for their flattery. It should return to its previous principle of aiding democratic movements anyway.</div.

The new Republican party should be less overtly redneck. America has complicated racial that must be carefully worked out, and defending the confederacy and attacking athletes who take a knee during the National Anthem is not a solution. A more respectful attitude toward women would also be helpful, given the astounding gender gap the party of Trump now has. A new Republican party could continue to champion the rights of white men, but must realize that does no require restricting the rights of anyone else.

The new Republican party should continue to respect the best of the Judeo-Christian tradition, but absolutely reject theocracy, and be tolerant of the many belief systems Americans live by. It can continue to be an antiabortion party, but that cannot be its single issue, and dissenters must not only be tolerated but welcomed into the party.
Above all, a new Republican party would choose its leaders by their qualification and the quality of their character. It would choose men and women capable of responding to the opposition’s arguments with better counterarguments rather than schoolyard taunts and childish nicknames. It would respect the norms of civil discourse, and at all times seek satisfactory compromises rather than total annihilation of the hated enemy.
Admittedly, the downside to this plan is four long years of a Democratic administration, which we would no more relish than our favorite readers. We expect the country would survive that better than another four years of Trump, though. With trust in our constitutional systems and powerful non-governmental institutions, the country survived 16 years of Roosevelt-Truman, eight years of Kennedy-Johnson, four years of Carter, eight years of Clinton, and America somehow survived. Those years left America with a bigger and more expensive government, but they also created Social Security and Medicare and some things our favorite reader now praises. Somehow a Biden-Harris doesn’t seem likely to destroy the country in four short years.
The rebuilding won’t be easy, given how much of the Republican party has sold its soul to Trump, but it won’t be impossible. Much of the conservative electorate — George Will, Jennifer Rubin, Jonah Goldberg, Max Boot, Irving Kristol, Fred Barnes — have remained faithful to traditional Republicanism and unintimidated to call out Trump’s heresies. There are numerous economic and military think-tanks that have continued their center-right ideas with no regard to Trump. Utah Sen. Mitt Romney is the only Republican in Congress to have maintained his integrity, but Independent Rep. Justin Amash would be welcomed back into the party, and surely in each of the 50 states that are Republican legislators and state officials untainted by Trumpism and eager to establish a new and better Republican party. The party should have appeal to both big business donors and rank and file workers who will also pitch, and could be competitive by the next presidential race.
To many of Trump’s dwindling group of supporters this project won’t be nearly entertaining as Trump’s Charlie Callas routines at the rallies, and not so much fun as seeing all the liberals thoroughly enraged, but they’ll get more wins and fewer humiliations.

— Bud Norman

Listening to the AM in the P.M.

A couple of summers ago we fell out of the habit of listening to right-wing talk radio shows, but we tuned in with a morbid curiosity on Wednesday to hear what they had to say about the shellacking the Republicans took in various places around the country on Tuesday. What we heard does not bode well for the Grand Old Party.
We missed Rush Limbaugh’s analysis of the results, but we later learned that the self-elected “Mayor of Realville” basically said the results where what you can always expect from Democratic jurisdictions and had little to do with President Donald Trump. Sean Hannity spent the first half-year hour looking back nostalgically on that night, complete with some gleefully played audio of liberal pundits smugly laughing off Trump’s chances in the run-up to the upset, and during his brief discussion of the previous night’s shellacking was careful not to blame his most favorite president ever for any of it. The growlier and slightly-less-sycophantic Mark Levin was more frank about how a full year of Trump has revved up the Democratic vote, and the growlier yet and antithetical-to-whoever’s-in charge Michael Savage was reminding his coast-to-coast listeners that no matter how much it might love Trump there’s a big chunk of the country that can’t stand him.
Levin’s a cacophonous screamer who played no small part in dragging the Republican party down into the school yard taunt of level of political rhetoric, and he’s a veritable William F. Buckley by comparison to Savage, but we’ll give them both credit for their realism. The year since Trump’s election has brought enough “tweets” and taunts and provoked enough liberal outrage to satisfy his hard-core supporters, along with a Supreme Court pick and some sweeping de-regulations and resulting stock market gains. That’s been eenough to placate the more wary Republicans, and it won four straight elections in solidly Republican districts where they needed to replace representatives chosen for the Trump administration, but Tuesday made it clear it hasn’t played so well elsewhere.
The Democratic rout in New Jersey can be easily dismissed, as New Jersey is a reliably Democratic state and for now all the more so after eight years of Gov. Chris Christie and his double digit approval ratings. Christie once saved the state from insolvency with his tough guy approach to taxes and spending and negotiating with the state’s notorious private sector unions, and was briefly regarded by the Republican party as a leading presidential contender, but he somehow managed to annoy and appall by the Democrats in his state and Republicans elsewhere during a second term. You can’t blame Trump for that, but Christie’s embarrassing obsequiousness to Trump after he was bested in the Republican primary clearly didn’t him any good.
Trump lost Virginia’s electoral votes, too, but a year later the Republican nominee he endorsed and “tweeted” about and did robocalls for wound up losing by a few points more. That can be explained by the fact that milquetoast center-left Democratic nominee Ralph Northam didn’t carry all the baggage that Clinton did, but after all those ads about illegal immigrant gangs and confederates statues and disrespectful-to-the-flag football players it can’t be explained by Republican nominee Ed Gillespie’s failure to more fully embrace Trump and Trumpist policies. The Democrats won all of the statewide and most of the district voting, too, including a transgender candidate who beat out the state’s self-described “chief homophobe,” and a lot of ostensibly straight and white and male legislators were replaced by a more ethnically and sexually diverse lot, which strikes us as a statewide rejection of Trumpism.
All politics is local, and Virginia’s a typically unique state, what with all those Washington bureaucrats in the northern suburbs and all them fancy-schmaltzy universities in the hinterlands, but all the exit polling confirms our educated suspicions that the Republicans lost a lot of educated and well-paid suburbanites who might have voted for the George W. Bush-affiliated Gillespie who had narrowly lost to an entrenched Democratic senator four years earlier but couldn’t pull the level for the Trumpified Gillespie of Tuesday, and that can have implications for all sorts of places around the country.
Such populous states as California and New York and Illinois reliably cast their electoral votes for the Democratic presidential nominee, but they all have some reliably Republican districts, and along with that the current Republican majorities in the House and the Senate come in large part from such populous swing states as Ohio and Florida. These districts tend to have a high percentage of well educated and well paid white people, who tend not to be easily assuaged by Trump’s taunts and the liberal outrage they provoke, which they have to hear about at the office the next day and can’t bring themselves to defend, so we’d advise to not offend them further.
Several of the various Republican tax plans that are currently floating around the legislative ether, though, propose to repeal those Republican redoubts in enemy territory of an income tax deduction for the income tax pay they pay to their state and local governments. The change isn’t much of a big deal here in Kansas, where you can say whatever you want about those stingy Republicans but most Kansans pay so little to Topeka they aren’t eligible for the deduction, but it’s a darned big deal to some well educated and well paid and potential Republicans in potentially Republican districts in Orange County, California, and Westchester County, Pennsylvania, and any of those other occasional Republican redoubts in between where the the damned Democrats in the rest of the state charge so much the deduction is worth more than the promised cut in the rate.
That’s what they get for living in a state that didn’t vote for Trump, a Republican friend of ours recently explained to us over a beer, but we’d only had the one and it didn’t seem a winning political strategy. Any old political party can use all the help it can get from the well educated and well paid sorts of people, white or otherwise, and there’s no reason for the Republicans to to be antagonizing the persuadable ones with childish taunts and punitive tax increases. If the party persists we’re sure most of those Republicans from those high-tax redoubts will put their constituents before party, which might be enough to sink the whole reform effort, and even if it doesn’t the effort isn’t poling well thus far. That’s the view from here on a Wednesday after a Tuesday shellacking.

— Bud Norman