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Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump is becoming an albatross around the necks of members of his party. Down-ballot GOP candidates are put in the awkward position of constantly distancing themselves from the “most” recent linguistic pyrotechnics touched off by Trump.

The Real Estate mogul has suggested that Gonzalo Curiel, the Latino judge presiding over a lawsuit involving Trump University, could not be unbiased because he harbors “an inherent conflict of interest.” More recently, Trump has questioned why the mother of a fallen Muslim soldier stood beside her husband at the Democratic National Convention without saying anything. Trump has also excoriated the work of a fire marshall for limiting attendance at a Trump campaign rally.

Political pundits are ruminating about the demise of the Republican Party. Former President George W. Bush reportedly told former aides: “I’m worried that I will be the last Republican president.” Many political observers believe Trump will lose the presidential election in an electoral landslide and take the Republican Party down with him. However, these pundits and GOP soothsayers underestimate how fast the pendulum swings in American politics. The Democratic and Republican Parties have been the two major parties in the U.S. since the 1860s, and have been given a political execution date a litany of times, only to rise up from the ashes like a phoenix and return to prominence.

In 1928, the popular Republican U.S. Commerce Secretary Herbert Hoover was elected president in a landslide. The Republican Party was in the eighth year of holding the presidency. Amid times of economic prosperity, the incumbent president, Calvin Coolidge, was enjoying stratospheric popularity among his countrymen. The Republican Party was hegemonic, controlling both houses of the U.S. Congress since 1919. The only state Hoover lost outside of the then Democratic Solid South was Massachusetts.

In accepting the GOP nomination, Hoover offered the grandiloquent statement: “We in America today are nearer to the final triumph over poverty than ever before in the history of this land… We shall soon, with the help of God, be in sight of the day when poverty will be banished from this land.” Hoover barely needed to campaign, delivering just seven radio addresses.

However, in 1929 the prosperity Americans enjoyed under Republican presidents came to a screeching halt. The stock market crashed, an economic depression ensued, and Americans leveled their collective blame at Hoover. In 1930, the once comatose Democratic Party won control of the House, picking up 52 seats. That Democratic House majority held for 60 of the succeeding 64 years. The Democrats also picked up eight Senate seats.

Two years later, the once popular Hoover lost re-election in an electoral route, winning only six states. In sharp contrast, the Democratic Party rose from dialysis to electoral supremacy, holding the White House for twenty consecutive years.

In 1964, the Republican Party high command was in a state of panic as the nomination of the ultra conservative U.S. Senator Barry Goldwater (R-AZ) was coming to fruition. While the country was apprehensive about the potential of a nuclear war, Goldwater had cavalierly joked about the use of nuclear missiles: “I don’t want to hit the moon. I want to lob one into the men’s room of the Kremlin and make sure I hit it.” At one point, a poll showed Democratic President Lyndon B. Johnson defeating Goldwater 79 to18 percent. His main primary opponent, New York Governor Nelson Rockefeller, unsuccessfully tried to stoke fear in the GOP electorate by sending out a mailer asking: “Who do you want in the room with the H Bomb button?”

Like Trump, Goldwater did not make an effort to mitigate his rhetoric. Instead, he doubled down on it. He offered himself as “a choice not an echo.” At the Republican National Convention, Goldwater exclaimed: “Let me remind you that extremism in the Defense of Liberty is no vice.” And let me also remind you that moderation in the pursuit of justice is no virtue.”

On Election Day, Johnson swamped Goldwater, winning 44 states. Johnson even won traditional Republican citadels like Utah, and Idaho. He became the first Democrat to break the hammerlock the GOP held on Vermont.

Two year later, with the nation mired in the Vietnam War, riots on the city streets, rising inflation, and a feeling that Johnson was overreaching domestically, the party of Goldwater picked up 47 seats in the House, the most the Party had won since 1946.

Two years later, instead of nominating another conservative firebrand like Goldwater, the party nominated a centrist in former Vice President Richard M. Nixon. With Johnson suffering from a job approval rating of less than 50 percent, Nixon was able to tether the Democratic nominee, Vice President Hubert Humphrey, to Johnson. Nixon promised to restore law and order averring: “The most important civil right is the right to be free from violence.”

Nixon’s moderate message was palatable to Middle America, and Nixon ushered in an era when the GOP held the White House for all but four of the next twenty-four years.

In 1972, the Democrats were in the same boat as the Republicans were in 1964. The discontented “new left” became a major force in the Democratic Party. They challenged the old guard, which favored a muscular foreign policy coupled with a munificent social services regime. For the new left, the flagship issue was getting U.S. troops out of Vietnam. Establishment candidates like U.S. Senator Hubert Humphrey (D-MN) and Edmund Muskie (D-ME) were late in opposing the war. They had supported the war early on.

U.S. Senator George McGovern (D-SD) captured the hearts and minds of the new left by highlighting his early opposition to the war. His campaign slogan was “Right From The Start.” Like Trump, McGovern was given little chance of winning at the start of the campaign. In fact, when he entered the race, McGovern’s chances of winning the nomination were 200-1 against him. However, the pundocracy gravely underestimated the power of the new left within the party, and McGovern pocketed the nomination. This was after a failed last-ditch move by moderate Democrats, spearheaded by Georgia Governor Jimmy Carter, who nominated a traditional Democrat, U.S. Senator Henry “Scoop” Jackson (D-WA), at the party’s national convention.

In the General Election, McGovern’s dovish views alienated many traditional Democrats. In addition, his proposal to truncate the U.S. military budget and his plan to bestow every American with a $1,000 income supplement, were seen as too radical for moderate voters.

Consequently, many down-ballot candidates distanced themselves from McGovern. Some supported Republican President Richard M. Nixon. Nixon won the election in a 49-state landslide, garnering 94 percent of Republican voters, 66 percent of Independents, and an astounding 42 percent of Democratic voters.

However, just two years later, Nixon was forced from office due to his role in the Watergate imbroglio. The Democratic Party took advantage of the situation, picking up 49 seats in the House and four in the Senate.

The 1976 presidential contest saw a recrudescence of the moderate bloodline of the Democratic Party, and the moderate Jimmy Carter, who had tried to stop McGovern four years earlier, was awarded the nomination and went on to win the Presidency.

Intellectual graveyards are littered with prognostications of the death of either the Democratic or Republican parties. After a party reaches a low watermark, it does not sink. Instead, it manages to rise up and eventually seize the reigns of power again.

Should Trump suffer an electoral thrashing and take down-ballot candidates with him, Republicans will likely detach themselves from Trump, win seats in the 2018 mid-term elections, and reorient their brand with a less pugnacious standard barer in 2020.

Trump’s legacy may be that he will be regarded as the ideological forefather of a new brand of conservatism, a force to compete with the conservatives of the party establishment. While establishment Republicans will continue to sing from the song sheet of comprehensive immigration reform, foreign interventionism, and free trade, insurrectionists in the Trump mold, without mentioning Trump, will intone from a hymnbook of closed borders, foreign non-intervention, and economic nationalism.

Herbert Hoover and Lyndon B. Johnson teach us that when a political party reaches it’s political ceiling, it can take a dive rather quickly. Contrariwise, Barry Goldwater and George McGovern teach us that when a political party suffers an ignominious shellacking, there is no place to go but up.

Follow Rich Rubino on Twitter: www.twitter.com/RichRubinoPOL


Ted Cruz Goes Rogue

by Rich Rubino on July 26, 2016

Modern national political conventions are usually public relations promotions where a cavalcade of politicians sing the praises of the party’s nominee. Losing candidates thank their supporters and tell them to fight for the nominee just as hard as they fought for them. The July 20 address given by U.S. Senator Ted Cruz (R-TX), who unsuccessfully sought his party’s nomination, was certainly uncharacteristic. Cruz was booed by supporters of the party’s nominee, Donald Trump, for urging voters to “vote their conscience” rather than endorsing Trump. The contest between the two had resulted in a bloodletting, with Trump giving Cruz the moniker “lying Ted.”

This is a moment which will go down in the annals of American political history along with other instances of tension and disunity at a party’s convention.

In 1948, the young Minneapolis Mayor, Hubert Humphrey, proposed a plank in the party’s platform committing the Democratic Party to support desegregation. Humphrey inflamed Southern delegates by averring: “the time has arrived in America for the Democratic Party to get out of the shadow of states’ rights and walk forthrightly into the bright sunshine of human rights.”

The Party supported the plank, precipitating the exit of the Alabama and Mississippi delegations from the Convention. Discontented States’ Rights Democrats formed the State’s Rights Democrat Party, a.k.a., the Dixiecrat Party. Despite the chasm, Democratic President Harry S. Truman was elected to a full term.

In 1952, the Republican Party had been locked out of the White House for almost 20 years. New York Governor Thomas E. Dewey had been the nominee of the party in the last two elections. He represented the party’s moderate bloodline. U.S. Senator Everett Dirksen (R-IL), who supported his conservative opponent, U.S. Senator Robert A. Taft (R-IL), pointed directly at Dewey, who supported the moderate candidate Dwight D. Eisenhower, exclaiming: “we followed you before and you took us down the path to defeat!” The reception in the hall was mixed, with Eisenhower supporters booing and Taft supporters cheering. Eisenhower won the nomination and the Presidency.

In 1964, the Republican Party was set to nominate U.S. Senator Barry Goldwater (R-AZ). His main primary opponent was liberal Nelson Rockefeller of New York. Goldwater represented the ultra conservative wing of the party. Rockefeller used the occasion to excoriate the far right elements that supported Goldwater, telling conventioneers: “These extremists feed on fear, hate and terror, [they have] no program for America and the Republican Party. . . [they] operate from dark shadows of secrecy.” The Goldwaterites hissed at Rockefeller. Rockefeller did not endorse Goldwater in the General Election. The divide in the GOP, coupled with the fear among voters that Goldwater was too extreme, contributed to a 44-state defeat at the hands of Democrat Lyndon B. Johnson.

In 1972, the Democratic Party establishment was disconsolate that they were about to nominate the insurrectionist liberal U.S. Senator George McGovern (D-SD). Georgia Governor Jimmy Carter spearheaded a “Stop McGovern” movement. Carter nominated one of McGovern’s vanquished rivals for the nomination, U.S. Senator Henry “Scoop” Jackson (D-WA). Jackson, a traditional Democrat, had performed poorly in his bid for the nomination, only winning his home state caucuses. However, Jackson did not officially drop out of the race. Carter’s effort to promote Jackson failed and McGovern pocketed the nomination. Many Democrats did not attend the Convention for fear of being associated with the nationally unpopular McGovern.

In 1992, Democratic former California Governor Jerry Brown refused to endorse his party’s nominee, Arkansas Governor Bill Clinton. During a bitter primary, Brown had accused Clinton of “funneling money” to his wife’s law firm for state business. Clinton had replied: “Your not worth being on the same platform as my wife.” However, to the chagrin of the Democratic Party’s high command, party rules afforded the opportunity for any candidate whose name was placed in nomination to address the delegates. A flustered Democratic Party Chairman, Ron Brown, begrudgingly opined: “I have had a number of conversations with Jerry Brown and Jerry is being Jerry . . . . We expect everybody who speaks at the Convention to be supportive of the ticket.“ However, rather than endorsing Clinton, Jerry Brown used the time to lambaste the political system.

Also that year, at the Republican National Convention, Massachusetts Governor Bill Weld challenged the party’s views on reproductive rights, stating: “I happen to think that individual freedom should extend to a woman’s right to choose. I want the government out of your pocketbook and your bedroom.” Many in the predominately socially conservative crowd disagreed and booed.

Ted Cruz did not bring himself to offer even a tepid endorsement of the man who gave him the moniker “lying Ted.” Any moment like this, where a convention speaker does not parrot talking points about why the party’s nominee should be elected, has a deleterious effect on the party as a whole, exposing party divisions before a national audience. Convention organizers yearn for consistency, not drama and division. Cruz is clearly singing from a different hymnbook.

Follow Rich Rubino on Twitter: www.twitter.com/RichRubinoPOL


Bill Clinton’s Message Resonated in 1992. Hillary’s Message Is Not.

July 15, 2016

For a Presidential candidate to be successful, the candidate must have a message which fits the times, and must have developed an ideological direction that is both palatable to the base and not hostile to the General Election constituency. This year, presumptive Democratic Presidential nominee Hillary Clinton had a tougher than expected primary challenge because […]

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Media Objectivity Is Illusive: It Cuts Many Ways

June 28, 2016

Conservatives often excoriate the “liberal media.” The Media Research Center, a content analysis organization, brands itself as a vehicle to “expose and neutralize the propaganda arm of the left: the national news media.” After an unflattering political cartoon featuring his two daughters, then Republican Presidential candidate Ted Cruz bewailed how “desperate the liberal media is […]

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Hillary Embarks Upon Operation ‘Democratic Party Unity’

June 14, 2016

Political parties are at a comparative advantage when they unify behind their Presidential nominee. Predictably, supporters of the presumptive Democratic nominee Hillary Clinton will do everything possible to heal the chasm with the progressive left: those who supported her primary opponent U.S. Senator Bernie Sanders (D-VT). Their fear is, assuming Hillary pockets the nomination at […]

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A Johnson/Weld Ticket Could Make the Libertarian Party Viable

May 24, 2016

Former Louisiana Governor Bobby Jindal, who unsuccessfully sought the 2016 Republican Party’s Presidential nomination, reluctantly endorsed presumptive GOP Presidential nominee Donald Trump, averring that the race between Trump and likely Democratic nominee Hillary Clinton is a “binary choice.” This is the mentality the Libertarian Party faces in presidential election cycles. Although the party has the […]

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In GOP Vice Presidential Sweepstakes, Donald Trump may want to vet John Duncan, Walter Jones, and Gene Taylor

May 10, 2016

Presumptive Republican Presidential nominee Donald Trump is in the inchoate stages of vetting possible Vice Presidential runningmates. Much media focus is centering on Ohio Governor John Kasich. Electorally, it would make sense to select a popular Governor of a critically important showdown state. No Republican has ever won the Presidency without carrying the Buckeye state. […]

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I’m From Massachusetts: My Vote Doesn’t Count

May 4, 2016

This primary election cycle is showcasing the fundamental unfairness of the way political parties select their nominees. Republicans are aghast that some states choose their nominees at state conventions rather than letting voters choose. Democrats are becoming cognizant that their vote is subservient to the vote of their Governors and members of the U.S. Congress, […]

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Political Parties are Under No Obligation to Operate Democratically

April 16, 2016

Supporters of Democratic Presidential candidate Bernie Sanders are flocking to local town hall meetings asking why their U.S. Representative or Senator is a Superdelagate for Hillary Clinton when their district or state supported Sanders. They ask, “Shouldn’t they represent the will of the people?” Contrariwise, on the Republican side, supporters of Donald Trump are incensed […]

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Anybody But Trump, Anybody But Carter, Anybody But McGovern

April 1, 2016

The party establishment is aghast. An insurrectionist candidate is close to securing the party’s nomination. Fears arise on the part of the party establishment that this candidate will get clobbered in the General Election. Party chieftains and financial benefactors panic because the insurrectionist candidate is not beholden to them. A cacophony of voices emerges to […]

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