The election of Donald Trump did not provoke tortured bouts of self-appraisal only among Democrats. Republicans are also struggling with their own “Whither our party?” moment. Unfortunately for them, they are too utterly craven to even produce a good set of lies!
There is still a hefty chunk of the Republican establishment that hates Donald Trump and hopes he dies and prays to soon restore the more dapper, respectable era of racism and inequality that defines the Republican Party’s mission. A good representative of that establishment is Alex Castellanos, longtime establishment Republican political consultant who thrived in the Bush era and now finds himself somewhat adrift. Writing in Politico today, Castellanos offers his bold prescription for “a new Republican Party that embraces the president’s politics but not his person.”
Castellanos starts by accurately identifying the most basic of issues, which is (I’m paraphrasing) that although Trump is a racist moron idiot bum, the widespread anger and disillusionment that propelled him to the White House was to a large extent the product of genuine gripes with decades of the political establishment of both parties neglecting the needs of most regular Americans. “They believe it has been fixed by the big guys, for the big guys, against the man who drives an F-150 and built their mansions. It was rigged by the very political leaders Americans sent to Washington to guard the future’s gates.” True indeed. But here—at square one, the first step, the very beginning of the formulation of any plan—is where the Republican party runs into trouble. Because the obvious response to the anger of the working class is to solve their problems, which would mean taking strong measures to curb inequality, boost incomes for working people, make health care and housing cheaper and more available for everyone, pass regulations to rein in the corporate world’s rent-seeking behavior... lefty stuff, in other words.
Since the Republican Party clearly does not want to do anything that might actually solve the problems that are making everyone so mad, Castellanos turns to the next best thing: Empty Sloganeering. But with new slogans!
1. A renewed GOP must be the party of change.
A new and better GOP must be a populist party of outsiders who will bring change to Washington and challenge our antiquated political establishment... We must lead with an agenda to remove money and power from our archaic and imperial establishment.
We must challenge the political establishment, says the very embodiment of the political establishment. We must remove money from the political establishment, says professional political consultant.
2. A renewed GOP must admit it needs to change.
The American people can see what Republicans often ignore: The GOP was bankrupt long before Donald Trump came along.
Very true! And how will the GOP change?
Don’t campaign as yesterday’s Republican. Run against yesterday’s Democrats, instead.
The Republican party will change by running against yesterday’s Democrats. Got it!
3. A renewed GOP must be the party of the economic future, not the past.
A more open economy is the foundational principle of an Uber-generation Republican Party that can expand its appeal beyond Trump’s base of supporters to the voters of the future: the millennials, suburban women and minorities in the emerging Democratic majority.
Does an “open” economy require Republicans to accept unfair trade, illegal immigration or insecure borders? No, it doesn’t. We don’t have to become anarchists, throw out all the rules, and divorce ourselves from Trump on these issues. An open economy is not a borderless one, whether on immigration or trade.
Republicans: We Stand For an Open Economy, Without The Openness. Castellanos even explicitly adds this:
The strategy for 2018 Republicans: Campaign like Elon Musk and govern like Ronald Reagan.
The strategy for 2018 Republicans: Bait and switch. Got it!
4. A renewed GOP must stand up for a uniting American identity.
Much of what President Trump is doing can expand the Republican Party if expressed with a loving heart instead of a reproving hand. Salute the flag. Stand up for the anthem. Say the pledge of allegiance. Make the case that requiring immigrants to learn English in schools is not punishment or an attack on their cultures. On the contrary, it is the greatest gift our country can give anyone, access to the American Dream that brought them here. Teach the Constitution in our schools. Require that all federal employees take a course and pass a test demonstrating they understand the Constitution they have sworn to protect and defend before they can cash a paycheck.
Keep all the xenophobia—but say it lovingly. And finally...
5. A renewed GOP must be the party of strength.
Many Republicans suffer terrible debilities in this primitive moment: They are creatures of reason. They respect procedure and tradition. But these civilized qualities can mislead a nation battling for its existence.
This year, Republican candidates are being tested in the Coliseum. The crowd believes strong leadership is indispensable. Learn from the apex predator who is president: Stand up for what you believe—and shoot your pollsters. Envision a great country’s future and lift our eyes there.
Yeah, people who are the victims of 40 years of Republican-engineered wage stagnation are always saying to themselves, “Republicans are too reasonable.” Good call.
The changes that the Republican Party really needs to make right now would cause it to become the Democratic Party.