Formed in the legacy of a Big Tent. We have a three legged stool: Social Conservatism, Fiscal Conservatism, Strong Defense. This tent can appeal to each of the groups without offending the others. There are some serious internal debates (how much defense do you need compared to cutting spending), but the aims are not at odds. In addition, the three legs have merged over the years. People who were socially conservative in the 1980’s are becoming more fiscally conservative. People who were fiscally conservative are becoming more socially conservative. This is true largely because the playing field has shifted. In the 1980’s socially conservative would have run more around sodomy laws, now it is whether a private photographer is legally obliged to photograph a ceremony they find morally repugnant. Economic conservatism runs closer to how much special interests we are willing to fund using government coffers. We have been forced into a unified front on a shrinking field. There really aren’t any major wedges that can be forced between our voters. Evangelicals, conservatives, and Tea Party are really quite similar, regardless of what exit polls might say.
We clearly have a problem with Trump in our midst. However, he does not set the conservative movement against itself, he incites a mob and brings in democrats. He does not so much split Republicans as threaten a hostile takeover. To be fair, during the transition from Establishment to Conservative this vulnerability should have been clear. When the McConnell wing cannot control things but the Lee wing has not yet reached ascendancy it is possible for a mob to take control, just as Napoleon picked up the crown that was lying on the ground. However, as long as Trump does not fully wear the crown by winning the general there is always the chance to repair the party by rejecting Trumpism next go round. If he does win the general we will be saddled with Trumpism for at least 8 years, probably closer to 16. However, Nixon (the closest analogy I can think of for Trump) was fairly swiftly followed by Reagan. So any damage from Trump could be temporary.
Formed from an ad-hoc collection of special interests. FDR’s party has blown into the dust. what we have now is a group primarily formed from:
- Racial solidarity
- Government dependence (both welfare type handouts, working for the government, and special favors like Labor Unions)
- Socialist monetary policy and punishment of wealthy
- Women’s Lib/Sexual Revolution (GLBT)
- Other hangers on who also want government solutions (i.e. environmental)
Democrats have generally done a good job of generally grouping these together. However you also end up with blocks that are by nature opposed. For instance, black evangelicals don’t necessarily have a lot in common with GLAAD. Inner city minorities don’t necessarily have a common point of view as the teacher’s union. The young socially liberal don’t necessarily want a lot more government regulation on their employers (some do, others realize it makes for a crappy job market). In order to win the Democrats have decided on solidarity above all. Anyone who challenges the coalition is immediately ejected. There are no second chances, because the Democrats absolutely cannot risk exposing that in order to get the vote of the Teacher’s Union they are shafting minority children. They cannot risk exposing that in order to keep GLAAD funding they would be willing to throw pastors in jail. They cannot risk someone pointing out that they would be perfectly willing to impoverish a few businesswomen to fund more handouts. The coalition must be preserved. There are too many pressure points that can divide their voters, and any who exert pressure on those points must be silenced.
Democrats generally win through popularity/personality. This was true in 2012, 2008, 2000 (when Gore ran as Clinton), 1996, 1992, and 1976. Anyone who voted for a winning Democratic presidential candidate prior to that is now at least in their 70’s, and not a major voting block. So we have Sanders who appeals to the Socialist wing while apparently not giving a rip about the racial wing. We have Clinton appealing to the government dependence wing but is entirely unpopular/unpersonable. If Clinton wins she will tick off the young urban voters that the Democrats depend on, especially if it is a “corrupt” election in which Sanders has “won” the elected delegates, but Clinton wins based on “influential friends” (superdelegates). In order to re-unify the party she will have to try to mend ties with that wing. However, in so doing she will be entirely vulnerable on the racial wing.
A minor change in minority voting habits would have monumental electoral effects. If you can convince 1 in 10 minority voters that they ought to be able to send their children to a better school you will destroy the Liberal movement, if not Democratic party. You will drive a wedge between Union & Government Workers vs Minorities. That is a rift that cannot be healed. So set up the argument this way: “I believe that no child should be trapped in a dangerous or failing school just because the local teacher’s union wants to protect bad teachers. We have [xx] million children locked in school systems that can’t even manage a 60% graduation rate. No matter where you live money is collected to educate your child. I believe that as parents you should be allowed to send your kids to your local public school, or use that money on a private school, or enroll in a charter school, or homeschool, or hire a private tutor. I believe we collect those taxes to educate children, not as a jobs program for teachers. If you school fails you you should be able to take your business elsewhere, and not have to ask permission from your teachers union when you do. My opponent believes that no parent should have that choice unless they make hundreds of thousands of dollars per year, and that the only solution to failing schools is to take more money from parents and give it to school administrators. At some point you have to ask: “If I can’t teach a classroom of third graders for $400k would I be able to with $500? Maybe money isn’t the problem, but my opponent will not even allow parents to ask that question. Only her millionaire friends are allowed.”
Education. Jobs. Basic Services (i.e. clean water). These are areas where a relatively small portion of minorities can be convinced that the Democrats provide solutions that are the absolute worst possible, and this election there is no photogenic charming inspiring Bill Clinton or Obama to gloss over the problem. In fact we have Sanders and Hillary Clinton simply chumming the water, showing how lacking the other is. Once that dam is breached you also hit the demographic solidarity issue. Maybe it is okay for minorities to vote for people in the party of Powell, Rice, West, Scott, Cain, Carson, Haley, Jindal, Martinez, Rubio, and Cruz.
So this fall I firmly believe that we will have Ted Cruz vs. Hillary Clinton. I believe Sanders may well win more elected delegates, and that Clinton will retain her superdelegates. I believe Comey will recommend charges against Hillary Clinton and she will either be under active investigation, or have been cleared as a political favor. I believe that Ted Cruz will use every tool at his disposal to win as big as possible in order to present the election as a mandate to McConnell. I believe Cruz will paint the Democrats as corrupt (political favors getting special people out of FBI investigation), liars, anti-American (whatever comes out of email and Benghazi), and dangerous to your health (Flint and Operation Fast and Furious). I believe Cruz will capture 15-20% of the African American vote, and 40% of the Hispanic vote. I believe that it is entirely possible that the map resembles 1980, but with 55 Republican Senators and a solid House majority. In 2018 there will be another Senate election that might net another 7-10 seats giving a fillibuster proof majority, allowing Ted Cruz to nominate staunchly conservative justices and change the nature of the judicial system. With a coalition in shatters at both the national and state levels the question will be how the Democrats pick up the pieces. Organized Labor will be gone (the last vestiges in the private market will disappear under Cruz’ NLRB, and Federal will be gone via executive order leaving only local government unions), and Minority outreach will swing on Education. The Democratic party will be forced to the table with nothing but inner cities, and 70 year old Senators. Whatever they turn into it will not represent the Liberal movement.