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What Happens to the NeverTrumpers

What Happens to the NeverTrumpers

A group of NeverTrump Republicans organized under the Lincoln Project PAC has been putting on a clinic, releasing one scorching anti-Trump ad after another. Composed of a collection of former McCain and Romney campaign staffers, including Rick Wilson, Steve Schmidt and Stuart Stevens, they’ve established a rally point for conservative dissidents. Lincoln Project messaging delivers the confrontational, negative resonance so often missing from Democratic campaigns and so critical to a race that turns on negative partisanship.

In a remarkable departure from the norm, almost 60% of the PAC’s very modest financing has come from small donors, like me. With less than a $3m budget the Lincoln Project has been able to get inside Trump’s head, earning Fox News rants, cease and desist letters, and free twitter publicity from the President himself, while sucking up airtime all over the rightwing infotainment bubble.

Angry dissent from Republicans and former Republicans has set the tone for this election. Trump is the first candidate in modern history who failed to earn support from any former President. Two former RNC Chairmen, Michael Steele and Marc Racicot, announced their support for Biden. Sitting Republican officials Mitt Romney, Larry Hogan, and Charlie Baker won’t vote for the President. Former Ohio Governor and Presidential candidate John Kasich is openly backing Biden. Commentators like Jennifer Rubin, Bill Kristol, David Brooks and George Will have all opposed Trump. Hundreds of former Bush II officials formed their own PAC to oppose the President.

America hasn’t seen an intra-party revolt on this scale since segregationist Democrats began flooding into the Republican Party. If Trump finds a way to cling to the White House, these folks, cut off from the GOP, will likely be the shock troops of a comprehensive anti-Trump resistance. What happens if Biden wins?

Trump is the force holding these Republicans and former Republicans in Biden’s camp. What will they do when Donald trundles his family into their private jet to flee? Will they try to reestablish themselves inside the GOP, launch a new political party, or will they set up camp inside the Democratic Party?

The path ahead for NeverTrumpers is fraught. A lot of the prominent Republican dissidents are campaign consultants, party workers or candidates. There’s no money in the middle. Losing a political party isn’t merely an emotional or social loss. For many of these folks being alienated from their political party means losing an income. Why do you think Nikki Haley and Marco Rubio stuck around? Unless they are ready to retire or change careers, they’ll have to find a place in our duopoly quickly. There are no good options.

What direction they choose may be influenced by how they see the party’s future. Is the GOP an unstable, populist dumpster fire on the verge of collapse and reformation? Or does Trumpian Fascism represent the party’s long-term future? For those desperate to get their careers back on track there will be pressure to imagine they can jump back into the Republican fray, steering the party toward a saner, more constructive future. They can’t.

While Trump himself is a political figure of unique depravity, no such man can rise to power without a welcoming environment. Republicans have been on this path since the Dixiecrats began their stampede into the GOP. No one in the party, from Reagan to Kemp to Romney, ever mustered the courage to consistently confront these bigots. It’s too late. Trumpist Fascism is not some anomaly, but rather the perfect modern expression of Confederate values, striking a chord that summoned America’s darkest demons. Those demons won’t follow Trump into exile.

No Republican reformation is coming. Even in defeat, the Republican Party will be more internally united and resistant to reform than ever, thanks to its retreat into geographic isolation. Comb the country after this election looking for “battleground precincts,” neighborhoods that were split within a narrow range. They will be rare, likely rarer than in any modern election outside the blowouts of ’64 and ‘84. Republicans will be scoured from even local power in urban and suburban areas of the North, and even in much of the sunbelt. They will be unchallenged, in near-complete control in white exurban and rural areas almost everywhere outside the Northeast and the Pacific West. A dangerous geographic divide will leave the GOP a hardened, uncompromising white nationalist minority.

Inside those geographically isolated pockets of Republican power voters are living in a racist cult, cut off from dissonance and preyed on by grifters who will aggressively defend their turf. The Party of Lincoln has become the Confederate Party. It shall remain so until it is strangled by cutting it off from the political lifeblood of federal power for a long period. Or through a civil war.

Nowhere in the senior ranks of the GOP are there any pockets of anti-Trump resistance around which a reorganization could coalesce. In retrospect, the last of that sane core of the party was swept from relevance with McCain’s 2008 loss and the rise of Sarah Palin as the party’s brand leader. There are mealy-mouthed cowards like Ben Sasse and Lisa Murkowski who’ve mumbled the occasional platitudes, but they will bend the knee to the Fascists whenever challenged.

NeverTrumpers foolish enough to wade back into the GOP will be walking into a trap. They’ll be strung along for a while until they’re invested in the effort, then the jaws will snap shut, leaving them to play the sniveling Reek like Tim Scott or Marco Rubio.

A local third-party effort has more to recommend it than most might think. However, turning local third party campaigns into the foundation of a national second party would require an intense, expensive, and lengthy investment in low-glamor local races in urban areas where Republicans have no solid contacts.

There are two geographies where the gap between voters’ pragmatic interests and their established partisan lean will be most at odds after this election: middle income mostly white suburbs that have been holding their noses to vote for Republicans (at least until ’20) and middle-income black urban areas that have been doing the same with Democrats for decades. Knitting their remarkably well-aligned interests together across America’s great wall of race is the political challenge of the century and the gateway to a new second party. But it won’t be easy, fun, or in the near term, lucrative. This is where NeverTrumpers should look for their next project, but it probably won’t happen.

America’s big cities have been trapped under one-party Democratic rule for a century with predictable results. Minority voters there are frustrated at being taken granted as a corrupt machine siphons away a stream of federal money meant to help them.

Suburban whites, especially in the sunbelt, are experiencing a similar awakening. Manipulated by racism and religious bigotry for decades, they’ve been conned by Dixiecrat Republicans into backing policies that undermined their access to health care and a stable retirement. They increasingly struggle to pay for housing, enduring epic commutes just to afford a home, while wondering whether their children will be able to get a higher education.

Build local political parties that can strip the racial goggles from these two groups, and suddenly they have fundamentally the same interests and enemies. Those parties could be coalesced into a springboard for a viable 2nd party. Such a campaign would take a decade of work and many millions of dollars. Unfortunately, NeverTrumpers are poorly positioned to pull this off.

Very few donors on the right have the slightest interest in big cities, so money will be hard to find. The Republican and former Republican consultant class has virtually zero base of contacts in the black community. Minority figures with an existing platform who would be open to such an effort are almost to a person either weirdoes, grifters or have piled up well-deserved loathing in those communities (see Cent, 50).

Convincing suburban whites to see interests beyond their racial and religious blinders would be no small task. Lessons from the Trump era provide a jumping-off point for such an awakening, but few NeverTrumpers have the language or interests to drive that wedge.

If it was easy, someone would have done it already. What’s missing is the vision and the investment.

More likely, the bulk of NeverTrump types will drift into the Democratic Party. What awaits them there is a warm initial welcome, followed by passive-aggressive jabs doled out slowly over time. Shunted to the margins, understandably, by consultants and activists who put in their time on the left over decades, their talents will go underutilized while nagging policy disagreements breed tension. NeverTrumpers who defect to the Democrats will endure a painful demotion as their long capital investment in their original party is lost. A few will overcome the friction and thrive. The luckiest will land TV gigs. Most will drift into obscurity.

There is an alternative. The harder path of building a new second party is full of financial uncertainty, isolation, risk, and enormous potential reward, the only path worthy of the courage and sacrifice these folks have displayed. Choose wisely.


  1. Factoids for those that like to chew on it:

    Early voting has already hit around 60% of 2016 levels and so far voting participation rates are on track to be the highest since 1909. Less the Democrats start taking victory laps, deeply increased enthusiasm is seen also in deep red ‘safe Republican’ territories such as Tennessee, where it looks like Republican voters may be just as motivated to offset perceived ballot stuffing as Democrat voters are motivated to offset perceived interference.

    The Democrats in North Carolina and Florida are especially eager to keep up the pace because if they manage to over the next week, they’ll have ‘insurmountable leads’ going into election day. I guess we’ll see.

    The other thing not known is whether registered X voters are truly voting for X instead of Y. So there’s that.

    Finally, my thought is that it would be pleasant and nice if this put to rest all of the ‘If only there was higher turnout!’ shouldawouldacoulda arguments, but it won’t because the motivation is on the back of distrust of the voting system and a close race with both sides having high turnout means that many more disappointed people when the results don’t go the way they voted.

  2. In the case that Biden does win, I’m pessimistic that ‘the public’ will ‘hold Republicans accountable’ into 2022, less 2024. By 2022 any attempt to hang the Trump noose around Republican’s necks will be waved off as “Trump Derangement Syndrome” from “whiners who lack policy to run on.” I don’t see why that wouldn’t work, American’s seem remarkably incapable of remembering things for longer than a year or so.

  3. I would suggest that many of these Never Trumpers want to craft the worldview of them as Resistance fighters within the fascist party orbit. I think Vichy French is more appropriate.
    Where were they with their attack ads and scathing op-eds in 2016?

    There are a few, and their is a virtual paper trail to prove it. But most of them, no.

    Let’s see how these Never Trumpers act starting Nov 4th when the tyrant unleashes his gestapo.

  4. Never Trumpers or always Trumpers, I don’t think we should worry about them.

    I think we should punish them.

    So they got some skills useful to other members of society?

    Great, they should be allowed to use them — only if they agree to wear sackcloth and ashes every day for each Trunk-admin environmental offense they ignored, supported, encouraged, pretended weren’t happening.

    Let’s start with oil drilling on public lands.

    One offense, one year of sackcloth. Now that’s an algorithm we can all get behind.

    Our species thinks it’s so smart, that we can trample on the natural world and never be even inconvenienced. We’re wrong.

    1. “Well, to all of you — lawmakers, administration officials, party hacks and other assorted enablers — who have tardily discovered that Trump is a disaster that walks like a man, we have something to say. That’s not the editorial we, by the way. It is, rather, the we of those Americans who watched in apoplectic dismay as our country — its norms, its values, its virtues, its verities and its laws — came under attack while you failed to stand up.

      I suspect I speak for more than a few of them when I say that your 11th-hour attempts to put distance between you and Trump do not fool us. As far as we’re concerned, the stink of what you did — what you failed to do — will follow you the rest of your days.
      May it make you less employable.
      May it haunt you at sidewalk cafes.
      May your kids ask you about it.
      And for any of you who broke the law — up to and including Trump himself — may there be prosecution to the fullest extent.

      Maybe that sounds vindictive. America is, after all, a nation of second chances. Mike Tyson went from a rape conviction to Hollywood movies. Richard Nixon and Bill Clinton went from scandal-tainted punchlines to respected party elders. And the argument will inevitably be made that we ought not dwell in the past, that we need to move on.

      To which, we say: not this time. Redemption is a fine thing. Moving on is, too.

      But sometimes, you need accountability. Not simply as a salve for what is wounded in us now, but also as a warning to those who would wound us in the future. Maybe they’ll be less likely to do so if they see that there is a price to pay for sitting down when your country needs you to stand.”

  5. I like your post, but 2 points:
    1) We haven’t won yet. I realize it’s superstition, but anyone who’s ever worked in a campaign knows that you never, ever talk about post-election stuff until after the final vote is in and tallied. It’s just bad luck (not to mention hubris to assume you have it in the bag and not focus 100% on the task at hand). More than that, IMHO, it’s really hard to predict how a party responds to a loss, because every win/loss is so distinct. Who got voted out, how close the margins were, the post-election spin, they’ll all have massive sway in how a party goes.

    After 2008, who would you have predicted would influence the Republican party more: the RNC, having elected its first African American chairman (Michael Steele), and creating a somber post-mortem that the culture wars are over and we have to reach out to more minority voters; or a small group of deranged weirdos following a call by TV personality Rick Santelli to form a “tea party” revolt?

    2) While I think you’re right that white suburban / exurban voters and black urban voters are oppressed under their respective parties, their reasons, sources of oppression, and means to overthrow it, are vastly different. They are not “remarkably aligned”. I don’t see enough common cause to have them form a viable party. You’ve spent many articles talking about how urban minorities are ill-served by democratic machines and their penchant for graft, and their old-school reliance on controlling dollar flows to trade for political power. Meanwhile, you’ve said Republican politics in suburbs are paralyzed not by old-school machine tactics, but by an obsession with religion and the cultural war. How are these not different problems, to be solved by different means? Yes, they both lead to corrupt policy-making and inefficient provision of public services. But how does that translate into actual policies? For example, breaking up public sector unions might help African Americans suffering under unaccountable police forces and public school administrations in large, monolithic, one-party cities. But how does it help suburban whites who don’t live in a massive city like Chicago, but in a small suburb where the local school board can be taken over by a few determined folk holding some bake sales and distributing pamphlets, and council meetings can be overwhelmed by a dozen public attendees? Will white suburbanites break up their police departments because Black Lives Matter and some random black guy in Chicago got shot unjustly? Do they care much beyond “liking” the BLM page on their facebook account?

    Similarly, if suburban whites are getting tired of a few crazies on their school board trying to remove evolution from their school curriculum, do you think minorities in urban cities would ever list that as even within the top 10 of their daily concerns? The biggest source of minorities’ dislike for the Republican party is not because of their religious beliefs (indeed, the 10% of evangelicals who are Democrats are disproportionately Blacks and Hispanics). It’s because of the Republican party’s embrace of the historic structural advantages (such as racism, sexism, and — as a socialist, I’d add accumulated capital to the list) that leave newcomers unable to move up the ladder. Yet those historic structural advantages are precisely what the suburbs were built to maintain. It’s hard to fathom how a coalition of already-haves (middle/upper-middle class suburban whites) and want-to-have-what-you-haves (lower/middle-class urban minorities) could be considered aligned. I’d love to hear your thoughts because I’d love for such a coalition to form, but I just don’t see it. Improved government provision of services is a very superficial commonality to hide what, IMHO, are much deeper conflicts in what govt’s fundamental goals should be.

    IMHO, I think the more likely scenario is that the Democratic refugee camp splits in two, with the liberal / minority wing as one party and the New Democrat-third way-Republican-lite wing being a separate party. However, I think you have it backwards: it’s entirely possible that the new guys, teaming up with the New Democrat/Third Way faction, will eject the old-school urbanites from the party and force them to find a new home. Because it’s happening already: just look in Chicago: the inner ring of Cook County suburbs were solid Republican and they’ve now turned solid Democrats. These are new Democrats, of the Lincoln Project variety, refugees from a Republican party that’s gone berserk, but not really changing their center-right views. And they’ve taken over the Cook County govt. Lori Lightfoot, the mayor of Chicago, ran against the Chicago machine, hates the Teacher’s Union more than Rahm Emmanuel ever did (she defeated their candidate), and in many ways is doing exactly the type of stuff to break up the machine that you think a Democrat would never do. Similarly, Cook County Democrats ousted Joe Berrios, head of the Dem party and long-time, consummate insider, as County assessor (a really, really important job, despite its unassuming title) and replaced him with Fritz Kaegi, a former accountant from Oak Park with no previous public experience:

    It’s entirely possible that your Lincoln Project Republicans team up with the moderate Democrats against their common enemy, socialists (like me 🙂 ) and successfully oust us to spend another 40 years in the wilderness. Ask a moderate Democrat like Joe Biden who he considers a bigger threat to his power, Bernie Sanders or Steve Schmidt (or Jeff Flake), and whom he’d prefer working with. Given that he’s supposedly considering Flake for a position in his Cabinet, I think we know the answer.

    To speculate even more wildly, I’d argue the interests of urban minorities and crazy Tea Party folks are actually even closer, when it comes to economic populism and distrust of oppressive government. Inefficiency of government services can be compensated by larger budgets, so a campaign centered around greater wealth redistribution, sold as a compelling story of us against wall street billionaires, is far easier to build than a technocratic, wonkish platform focusing on how to improve efficiency and doing more with less.

    It’s entirely possible that the socialist wing of the Democratic party, ejected from the party that has coalesced around the center, flees to the empty husk of the remaining Republican party, and runs on a platform of economic populism and wealth redistribution. IOW, Mitt Romney (D) vs Bernie Sanders (R) in 2024. I’m calling it right here! 🙂

    1. Who could have predicted…

      I sent an email to our local GOP leadership team on the Weds after the ’08 election warning them that the idiot wing was now in charge at the national level. Unless moderate local Republican leaders in the North took some action against the crazies, we were doomed. A Sarah Palin-led GOP would turn our 65% local majority into a minority in just a few years. In the meeting that followed they literally laughed.

      That’s how GOPLifer got its start.

      Four years later, Obama won DuPage County again and Dems won a congressional seat, beating Joe Walsh. By ’16, almost all of the Congressional delegation was blue. In ’18 Dems swept county-wide races. This year they’ll take control of the county board.

      1. Wow, that is a remarkably prescient call. I’m genuinely curious: what did you see that told you it was different this time? I mean, from my perch on the Dem side, it seemed like there were always people calling for various jihads within the Republican party. When I saw the tea party starting, I admit I was one of the ones who laughed. I figured much more organized and powerful groups like the Christian Coalition had failed, and they were committed enough to bomb abortion clinics, so a bunch of lunatics stapling teabags to their foreheads because a black man had won the Presidency didn’t seem like much of a threat. And pairing a moderate with a conservative a-la McCain and Palin has been done for decades (Dan Quayle was chosen because of his conservative views, and his wife famously said during her RNC speech that not everyone who grew up in the 60s joined the counter-culture). I figured Palin would go back to hunting caribou. Obviously I was wrong. I’m curious how did you know?

        Also, if you get a chance, could you expand on what an alliance between white suburbanites and minority urbanites would look like? I suppose that’s what the Dems are right now, but IMHO, that’s a fragile alliance, not a natural one.

        Regarding DuPage, it’ll be interesting to see how DuPage Democrats will govern. I would bet a bunch of money they are recent Republicans who have no love for the Democratic machine in Chicago. While Chicago still dominates the state legislature, as more of the state turns Democratic and more of the Dem caucus hails from these suburban districts, I predict the new arrivals will soon be butting heads with the Chicago Dems who are used to calling the shots. Once Madigan dies (he’ll never retire) they have a good chance of taking over the state party. That’s what I mean that I don’t count out the new Republicans as not being able to find a place in the party. If anything, the old-school machine might find itself kicked out.

      2. “what did you see that told you it was different this time?”

        Honestly, I thought everyone saw it. It seemed so plain. I didn’t approach them as a Cassandra. My intention was to get ahead of a planning process that I assumed was coming anyway. Having these sane, sensible local people dismiss the danger left me stunned. Interestingly, all of those folks are now either out of the party or on the sidelines themselves.

        With McCain defeated and demoted, there were no filters left to contain those idiots. He was the last of the Republicans willing to confront the religious nuts. The Bushes, who liked to herd them, were out of the picture after their style had completely failed. Romney was the last man standing, but he was a chameleon, a style that would provide absolutely zero buffer against the crazies.

        Apart from Romney, Ryan and Boehner, of the senior figures in the party were cranks and grifters like Palin and the Paul family. There was no place left to raise a banner to rally a response. The Huckabees, Bachmanns and weirdoes like Herman Cain were our ideological leaders. They were frankly scary people, people you wouldn’t trust to walk your dog or gas up your car. They weren’t just philosophically extreme, they were broken, failed, trashy, disturbing people. And there was no force left to contain their influence.

        Still makes me sick to think about it. Just ten years prior it still looked like Jack Kemp might be the future of the GOP. What a failure.

  6. I don’t agree that “Never Trumpers” would be “marginalized” in the Democratic Party long term; there are a LOT of Democrats that are the equivalent of the old “Rockefeller Republican” socially liberal, fiscally responsible types. Never Trumpers would be extremely valuable in helping reach the “non college educated”, formerly classified as “blue collar” white males, obviously a group the Democrats have lost.
    I think this ‘not welcome’ reaction is in part caused by the “Demonization” of the “radical left”, which isn’t anywhere near as “radical” as the “radical” right attempts to paint them – what are their core issues? Climate change (green new deal) racial injustice and systemic racism (BLM) income inequality and health care (“Obama Care“). How “radical” are these issues? These are big issues where anyone helping in finding workable solutions is welcome, and the individuals listed are all intelligent, and thoughtful; if interested in calibrating theITV rhetoric to match the listener, could be very welcome indeed. Being a “boomer” myself though, I’m only speaking from that viewpoint – Millennials and Gen Z will drive this conversation, and while I talk with my grandchildren regularly, and we are essentially on the same page politically (all that radical left stuff) what their underlying motivation is Is unknown to me as much as other aspects of their culture. I’m just happy to finally see them voting in significant numbers.

    1. I might add that I know a fair number of moderate Republicans who still think in terms of traditional Republican values that think Trump is an aberration, and will vote for Biden. If Trumpism and the Confederate disease that infects the party is incurable, themes of fairness, equal opportunity, security, justice, etc. aren’t party specific, just the solutions are. If Trumpism stays with new versions of Trump, they could be convinced (quietly) to stay, giving “Never Trumpers” a potentially significant audience.

    2. “Never Trumpers would be extremely valuable in helping reach the “non college educated”, formerly classified as “blue collar” white males, obviously a group the Democrats have lost.”

      I could not disagree more. “Blue collar” white males have joined the GOP in droves because Trump has promised the one thing that is unattainable – a return to the days when white Christian males ran this country with impunity and a “blue collar” job meant stability for life.

      Those days are over. There is not a single “Never Trumper” that believes in even trying to bring back those days.

  7. Article in the New Yorker about possibilities for the Republican Party after Trump. The most interesting part for me was about the populist economics that was a big factor in Trump’s campaign and election (not so much in his administration, though). I have to admit the idea of a Republican Party that puts forward the economic interests of the middle and lower classes makes my head spin.

    1. That’s a great article, and says more elegantly what I was trying to say above.

      If the Republican party decides to shrink down to its base of hardscrabble folks who’ve been left behind by the rising tide of the last several decades, it won’t take much of a leap for a politician to expand that coalition beyond white men.

      In most of the rest of the world, it’s right-wing parties that are economically liberal / socialist and nativist / isolationist, while left-wing parties are typically pro-free trade and globalist. Just look at the supporters and opponents of Brexit.

      I love this quote from the article:
      “Reagan was very popular with younger voters. Younger people then had come of age seeing government failure. Now young people have come of age seeing market failure.”

      If Marco Rubio actually sticks to what he’s saying, and comes up with a critique of the modern financialized economy in which the stock market continues to set records while the unemployment rate hits levels not seen since the Great Depression, and points out that a “market” that allocates an additional $50billion of capital to Jeff Bezos’s bank account while millions of small businesses go bankrupt is almost prima facie evidence of market failure, all while not alienating minorities who would otherwise be drawn to the same message, he’d get a lot of votes.

      Along the same vein, I’m surprised to say that Trump’s economic team has handled the economic fallout of the covid pandemic far, far better than Obama’s team handled the 2007/8 crisis. In 2007/8, Obama’s largesse stopped at Wall St, which was bailed out the tune of trillions of dollars, but not a single dollar was dropped from Bernanke’s helicopters outside a tiny section of the island of Manhattan. In contrast, while Trump has thrown plenty of money on Wall St, he’s also given trillions in direct financial assistance to regular people and businesses. I don’t care how much fraud there might be in the Paycheck Protection Program, or the checks to individual taxpayers, or any other support program. It’s still a way to get cash directly into the hands of people, rather than (just) the bankers. That’s not something the so-called progressive Obama ever did.

      Heck, Trump’s team has been so good at getting money directly to people, either through PPP, various industry bailouts, expanded unemployment assistance, rent and mortgage forbearance, and the direct checks to every taxpayer, etc. that we can legitimately call it an experiment in a national UBI. Economic data shows that despite skyrocketing unemployment, people kept spending (just not at stores and restaurants, but on e-commerce) while also paying down credit card debt. And there are at least anecdotal reports that the current expanded unemployment benefits are generous enough that people are forgoing low-paying jobs and prefer to just collect UI insurance, an intended benefit of a UBI.

      IOW, we have an ongoing experiment in how people under an UBI scheme might spend their money. Some of it is good: paying down credit card debt, not getting thrown out of their homes, feeding their families, etc. Some of it not so good: a rise in daytrading on Robinhood.

      Chris, does it bother you that the man you loathe set up the first experiment of universal basic income? (PS, despite the massive hit to the global economy, and ours especially took during the pandemic, one which necessitated literally trillions of borrowing *a week* during its height, our interest rates went down because the Fed decided they should go down. Do you still believe markets set interest rates? 😉

      1. ” I’m surprised to say that Trump’s economic team has handled the economic fallout of the covid pandemic far, far better than Obama’s team handled the 2007/8 crisis. In 2007/8, Obama’s largesse stopped at Wall St, which was bailed out the tune of trillions of dollars, but not a single dollar was dropped from Bernanke’s helicopters outside a tiny section of the island of Manhattan.”

        The Obama administrations package of household relief was blocked by Republicans in Congress as being “too expensive.” The TARP and bailouts passed under the Bush Administration and were merely administered by the incoming Obama administration.

        That said you are correct that Republicans somewhat… SOMEWHAT… learned that they better feed cash to families or risk being literally lit on fire, so yes, the US has given some of if not the most generous emergency relief funds during COVID this year. Meaningfully, Senate Republicans are elated to hand off the debt from it to a Biden administration and if they hold the Senate while Biden holds the White House, the US will probably see no more relief funds approved due to a sudden concern for “fiscal discipline.” (If 45 is re-elected, the money will flow. If the Senate goes blue and Biden is elected, the money might flow but I am sure minority leaders in the Senate have nice little tricks to restrict it based off of their “fiscal concerns.”) Honestly I believe that if 45 had really good polling right now, McConnell would have released some new rounds of relief.

        I just wanted to state also that despite the fact that the US relief package was relatively generous, people on the left have been slamming it as particularly ungenerous, choosing to focus on the $1200 one time payment rather than the $800 per week bonus UI. So we’re not going to have consensus over what this UBI experiment means, when half the population doesn’t think it happened.

      2. Aaron-
        Obama came into power with a near-filibuster-proof majority in the Senate and a similar overwhelming advantage in the House, not to mention state governorships and legislative bodies. He certainly had a larger advantage than Trump does right now. If he wasn’t able to get across a proper spending bill (the easiest type of bill to pass in Congress), then it’s on him. Every other President for the past 50 years has managed to pass large parts of their agenda with a smaller majority than him.

        For that matter, the biggest opposition to bailing out Wall St. was from Republicans, not Democrats. When GWB had to pass the Wall St. bailout bills in 2007/2008, he had to depend on Democratic votes because the Republican rank-and-file were in open revolt about using public money on private bailouts. A young Obama was even tasked as a whip on the Dem side for one of the main pieces of legislation.

        We need to acknowledge the undeniable fact that Obama, regardless of his hoary rhetoric, was a center-right politician. His crowning achievements were bailing out Wall St. without putting a single banker in jail, a healthcare plan written by the Heritage Foundation, and a “grand bargain” that would gut Social Security and Medicare in the name of “fiscal responsibility”. Oh yeah, and that whole War on Terror thing…. In fairness, I’ll credit him with restoring the economy (but with rising inequality), and also improvements on the environment and social issues. But even these would be completely compatible with center-right and moderate Democrats and Republicans.

        I state this as someone who worked on his campaign in 2008 and generally liked the man: history will judge him as one of our worst, most ineffectual Presidents, lacking either the guts & insider knowledge for bare-knuckle horse trading, or the charisma to charm Congress into doing his bidding (while his speeches were great, I’ve heard that he was pretty aloof, stiff, and uncomfortable with the glad-handing part of his job, the opposite of Bill Clinton). He failed on the two biggest challenges of his time: re-regulating Wall St after the biggest financial crisis since the Great Depression, and formulating a coherent Middle Eastern policy and ending our two wars there. Even his crowning achievement of Obamacare, regardless of whether it is right or left-leaning was not all that special (despite being hugely controversial): 90% of the increase in coverage was from increasing medicaid, something Bill Clinton did as well by starting the State Children’s Health Insurance Program (SCHIP) during his time.

        The bottomline is that Obama only looks like a towering giant because the Presidents before and after him will go down in history as much worse than him.

  8. Hello, Orphans. Long-time lurker here…

    I’m a slightly left-leaning Democrat. I originally started reading Chris’s GOPLifer blog because I wanted to know what the other side was saying. I couldn’t stomach the Fox News echo chamber, so I entered “enemy territory” with GOPLifer. I was surprised & relieved to read conservative viewpoints from someone who is smart, rational, and compassionate. In 2016, I followed Chris here. So that’s me. I’m still a left-leaning Democrat, and I’m still enjoy reading Chris’s opinions & analyses.

    My ideal third party is socially liberal and fiscally conservative, but not so fiscally conservative that we don’t have adequate safety net programs. I also really want universal healthcare coverage. As someone one who has, at different times, enjoyed employer-supplemented insurance and purchased insurance through (ACA), I’m here to tell you that neither solution is ideal. This might not sound like a fiscally conservative idea, but it could be if we reapportioned money from the bloated military budget. For now, however, I’ll just be relieved to be rid of Trump.

    1. Welcome, Fellow, long time ranter here, although I haven’t ranted so much of late on fiscal conservatism.

      The reason fiscal conservatism as usually imagined is misguided is that the Federal Government is never fiscally constrained; it prints money at will. Its operational possibilities are constrained by availability of real resources.

      In the short term, cutting the military budget does nothing to expand the possibilities for health care, since soldiers and defense contractors don’t have useful abilities to apply there. In the short term we’d just have unemployed soldiers and possibly bid up prices for health care resources.

      What we need to think about is how to use available resources better, and how to develop needed resources that we are short of.

      ‘Saving money’ is not the way for a society to prepare for its future. Developing valuable resources is.

    2. Welcome Fellow Worker! Here’s the thing: the vast, vast majority of people in this country are not socially liberal and fiscally conservative. They do not like Hollywood values or “weirdos” who are not like them (define us vs them any way you want), and they want to tax the hell out of the rich and increase the amount government spends on them. Everyone in the “elite” fancies themselves socially liberal and fiscally conservative because, by and large, Hollywood already expresses our values (since they’re a part of our tribe) and because we’re well off and would rather have tax cuts than additional govt services. That’s not the case for much of the country.

      It’s easy to say “let everyone live the way they want!” when 90% of media and other arbiters of social standards conforms to and idolizes the way you live anyway. It’s a little like white people who see we don’t need affirmative action because colleges are open to anyone. If you’re a guy who farms, has a big pickup truck, and likes to hunt in his spare time, you will be presented to the world (i.e. by the media) as an uneducated, racist hick, or else, at best, as a good but simple-minded person who deserves a pet on his head by his superiors. Similarly, if you’re a black male from the inner city, you’ll be portrayed as either a criminal / drug dealer / rapist / murderer, an object of pity, helpless and unable to do anything to make a reasonable life out of your circumstances, or, occasionally, a “magical Negro” who has some sort of mystical power or insight and who has no better use for it than to help a white person solve his problems.

      Removing legal restrictions on social behavior is great if you control the normative restrictions on social behavior anyway. That’s not the vast majority of this country.

      In a similar vein, “fiscally conservative” is usually code for cutting govt spending to allow for tax cuts. But if govt is the single biggest lever you can use to improve your life (public schools, public health insurance, low interest home loans, perhaps occasional stints on welfare when you lose your job) then being fiscally conservative is the last thing on your mind. And this is before you take into account the seething rage just under the surface of this country that started when Goldman Sachs announced record bonuses while millions of people were being thrown out of their homes for their fraud and thievery.

      I appreciate that you want to be fiscally conservative while providing a social safety net, but I must ask, what do you think costs so much of our government money? The government is basically one giant pension fund and insurance plan, with a side business in defense (along with the interest on the debt we use to pay for it all). Everything else is too small to even waste time counting. Increasing the social safety net by providing, say improved health care, would cost hundreds of billions of dollars above and beyond what we already spend.

      Sorry if you feel I’m being too hard on you 🙂 I just want to pushback against this canard that the majority of people are socially liberal and fiscally conservative. They are the opposite. It’s fine if you are, and I’m not even saying you’re wrong, just that you will never, ever build a majority coalition on that platform.

  9. The natural place for the “NeverTrumper” non-fascists of the Republican Party is inside the BigTent of the Democratic Party. They are welcome to join the party as FormerRepublicans™ and use the levers of the Democratic Party to make the party more “conservative”, within the confines of the Democratic Party platform. That is to say, they are welcome in the Democratic Party as long as they are OK with the current Democratic Party platform/policies. Their legitimate purpose afterwards can be to urge slow and thought-out changes to current Democratic Party traditions and policies.

    If FormerRepublicans™ inside the Democratic Party want to turn the party into a bastion of tax cuts for the rich, cuts to public programs that benefit everyone who isn’t already rich, and the dismantling of voter rights/minority rights/anyone’s rights other than the rich, then they can fuck right off. Sorry, not sorry. You have a home, and it’s in the Republican Party. Lay right the fuck down in it. Wiggle around in it. Enjoy.

    Once the FormerRepublicans™ wing of the Democratic Party understands their legitimate role within the Democratic Party, then we can have the splitting of the Democratic Party into its natural left vs right wings. And, hey! FormerRepublicans™, you can have the Democratic Party name and legitimacy…just think, you can be a member of a political party that has hasn’t outright embraced FASCISM like the Republican Party.

    This is, in fact, the only way forward if we want a functioning country. As long as the Republican Party can win elections as the Republican Party, this country is FUCKED. At some point some closet TRAITOR like Tom Cotton is going to come along, use his inside voice to re-gather all of the Trump Fascists and “NeverTrumpers”, and bring about the absolute destruction of this country.

    So, the Republican Party HAS TO GO. If you are still a Republican in 2020, then you are an open and obvious danger, and should not be allowed any elected position outside of your Home Owners Association, if that. YOU are the problem.

    Ultimately, the best possible scenario for everyone would be to completely abandon First-Past-The-Post voting in ALL elections. This solves multiple problems almost immediately. It creates the breeding ground for actually-useful third parties.

    It is also how Sane Republicans, Center-right Democrats and Moderates can form a ThirdParty™ that has no solutions, and can only offer the status quo…which is at least better than the FASCIST Republican Party.

    If we don’t abandon First-Past-The-Post voting, then there’s really only going to be 2 political parties who can win/wield power, and as long as one of those parties is the Republican Party, then this country is IN DANGER.

    I know all of the above may sound meany-headed, but us left-wingers who’ve been warning “sane Republicans” for decades that the Republican Party is adopting fascism, are really fucking tired of putting out fires started by Modern US Conservatives d/b/a the Republican Party…and then getting shellacked for not solving every single problem while we were putting out fires.

    1. Personally, I welcome the Never Trumpers. We need the skills of the Mike Madrids, Reed Galens, Steve Schmidts, and Stuart Stevens who understand how to win campaigns.

      But these folks have to understand that we are welcoming them into our homes. Critique us if you must with the intention to improve the Democratic Party, but don’t expect to be welcomed if you instead intend to change the Democratic Party to more suit your ideological beliefs.

      1. Those NeverTrumpers don’t have any particularly valuable skillsets except knowing how to play their marks. They essentially stood on the shoulders of “giants” like Lee Atwater, Newt Gingrich, and Rush Limbaugh – those propagandists built the Republican Base. NeverTrumpers just corralled them into pushing the (R) button once or twice a year.

        Stuart Stevens is probably the most salvageable of the lot, as he’s been pretty clear about what he did, why, and apologized for it. Contrition is the first step back towards being an American. He’s done that.

        Most of the rest are still delusional that they’re the “real” Republicans. The rest of them would have no problem with any of Trump’s policies if they’d been created under a Rubio or Bush III Restoration administration. And that’s the problem, they’re just pissed that Trump was able to pull them out of the loop and usurp their power/prestige.

      2. OMG.

        NeverTrump consultants are carrying a skillset that’s almost entirely absent from Democratic politics – a capacity for communicating with people on a plane that actually resonates. George Lakoff wrote several books about this, which Democrats continue to either ignore or misunderstand. Democratic comms strategy is hilariously inept, to the point of being delusional. They desperately need these folks, but they’ll ignore them again.

      3. Gotta agree with you Chris. It bothers the hell out of me that the best advertisers and consultants who know how to go after Trump are from the Lincoln Project. I don’t care to watch any debate or Biden appearance, but I watch every single Lincoln Project commercial the moment they release it. And I wonder why, with all of Hollywood in our camp, we can’t come up with anything like it.

        If we can’t utilize their talents (or at least learn from them), then we’re wasting a valuable resource. That said, tactics is different from strategy, so let me on my abrasive hat:

        The Lincoln Project is tactical. And I welcome their policy debates, but as a left-leaning (fine, call me socialist, I don’t mind 🙂 Democrat who’s put my time in the party since I was five (yeah, I watched the Reagan inauguration with my Dad and still remember it; I wrote a personalized letter to the DNC and got their official convention handbook for Dukakis. I still have it. And I was the only kid I knew who would race home from school not to watch the afternoon cartoons, but to tune into the Iran-Contra hearings. That was all still before I could vote.) I’m damned if I’m going to let them walk in and act like they own the place. Not that they will, just that they shouldn’t expect to.

        We socialists have finally driven out the Clinton-era Third Way New Democrat corporatist wing of the Democratic party. Joe Biden is its last death throes. It wasn’t independents and moderates who walked the blocks and manned the phone booths to get Obama and (now) Biden their wins. It was us, the true believers, who never swayed, who don’t see Trump and Biden on TV and whine “Oh, I just can’t decide!” We bought and paid for this party with our blood sweat and tears. It’s ours. If you don’t agree with our ideals, get your own party. Now pardon me; I’ve worked up a sweat and must cool off with this here delicious Kool-Aid in front of me 🙂

      4. Chris-

        The only plane on which their message resonates is the right-wing authoritarian plane, and even there, it’s only with messaging that won’t resonate with anyone else. It’s what got us to where we are now.

        Or, to put it another way, the entire dialog in this country has been broken because of what Atwater, Gingrich and Limbaugh have done to approximately 40% of the population. Even if The Lincoln Project can “reach” that population, they need to fix them, not just continue catering to messages of derision, hate, and character assassination – because that is the only thing the 40% of the population they’re capable of “resonating” with are capable of reacting to. And if you watch The Lincoln Project ads, it’s the same method of messaging.

        Unless The Lincoln Project is going to salvage that 40% of the population by deprogramming them, the only way The Lincoln Project stays relevant is if they take their 40% of the population and go home to a reconciled Republican Party. Either they fix what they themselves broke, or they’re useless going forward, because their method of messaging is only designed to cater to hate, in-group cohesion, and character assassination.

      5. Chris –

        I agree the Never Trumpers carry skillsets sorely needed by the Democrats but we all seem to be forgetting one important thing.

        These Never Trumpers do not support Trump, they still support the policies that Trump and the GOP have advocated for years. They simply want the retirement of the bullhorn and a return of the dog whistle.

        The Democrats need to take notes, learn the messaging skillset. They do not need to promote the same message.

      6. What the Lincoln Project does is a skill, to be sure, but does that skill solve any of society’s problems?

        The Republican Party is the party of No You Can’t. George Washington and Thomas Jefferson didn’t have health insurance, so neither can you.

      7. Let’s not forget a little detail. When ogres like Atwater were committing their atrocities, Donald Trump, Mike Pence, David Duke, Roy Moore and Rick Perry, to name a few, were all Democrats. All the Klansmen I knew were still Democrats. And Elizabeth Warren was a Republican. The notion of the Republican Party as the party of white racists is a relatively recent development.

      8. Creigh-
        If you have a great product that solves a pressing problem, but you have no marketing budget and can’t reach your consumers, is it really a solution? If a policy proposal fails in Congress, does it make a sound?

        Solutions are no good if they’re not implemented. And you can’t implement anything in a democracy without a governing coalition. To the extent that the Lincoln Project helps you get that majority, they are part of the solution.

        But it goes deeper than that. I’m really surprised at how much distaste there is on this forum about acknowledging the need to tell stories to sell your policies. As if it’s dishonest, or shameful, or misleading. It doesn’t have to be. The Lincoln Project is not lying when they call Trump a blundering buffoon who can’t hold a glass of water without two hands.

        And whether we like it or not, that is the way people respond. People are not good at divining truth from numbers and formulas. It’s rare enough that the people who are good at it get Nobel Prizes. And even they aren’t always that great at it (Einstein spent the last few decades of his life resisting the evidence for quantum mechanics because he thought it represented “spooky action at a distance”).

        It’s doesn’t cheapen our goals by saying we need to tell better stories. Storytelling doesn’t have to be about selling something false. Even truth needs convincing for people to believe it. This notion that our ideas are so good they sell themselves, or that expanding beyond dry numbers and formulas is misleading, is wrong.

      9. Democrats need to message better there is no doubt to that comment. But the Lincoln Project/ Never Trumpers are not joining the Democrats. Once Trump is gone the GOP will return to pretending to be horrified by racism and the Never Trumpers will be welcomed back because at the end of the day their political goal match those of the GOP.

      10. WX, what I’ve seen is that lots of people–too many–respond to fear. Better fear mongering is the easiest thing in the world. Sure, tell better stories, but in reality the work of building is always an order of magnitude harder than the work of tearing down.

  10. For a former very active Republican like me, there’s a lot to think about here. For better or worse, I’m in my twilight years, living happily in Costa Rica, so I don’t have to think very much as to my own future, but thinking back to when I was a young pup, just getting started in GOP professional politics, today’s post by Chris reminds me of something that might be worth sharing:

    As Chris mentioned, when Goldwater got the 1964 nomination (and I was employed in the RNC Research Division), the Southern segregationists descended on the GOP in droves. (Except for his home state of AZ, he won only a few Southern states in the final analysis.) At the RNC, Goldwater appointed as Chairman his fellow Arizonan, Dean Burch; he selected a real hardliner, John Grenier of Alabama as Executive Director. That began a wholesale firing of almost all employees of the RNC, quite unceremoniously, to be replaced Goldwater loyalists most of whom were totally inexperienced. (My job was saved only because of my acquaintance with the newly-appointed Research Director, whom I had known at Notre Dame.) GOP headquarters suddenly spoke with a Southern drawl.

    After the election debacle, the RNC met for a post mortem. Fortunately, they selected totally new leadership headed by an Ohio political pro, Ray Bliss, who was a real nuts and bolts guy untainted by intra party fights. He put together a very effective coalition which rebuilt the party over time, beginning with major House gains in 1966.

    But in those days, segregation notwithstanding, America itself was not as divided as it is today. Segregation was seen as something of a regional issue, and while the Southerners have remained a major force in the GOP, and no doubt their racial views are a driving force in our nation’s current divisive state, the problem has for reasons I can’t understand become terribly exacerbated in the last few years. I’d be interested to read the views of others who can shed light on just why is America so bitterly divided?

    1. Joseph,

      America is so bitterly divided because this country has been run by white Christian males since its founding. White Christian males understand in the future that they will no longer be permitted to govern this country by themselves. Blacks, Hispanics and Asians, women, gays and lesbians, Jews, and Muslims will also be given opportunities to govern in the future.

      This pisses off white Christian males to no end.

      As I am sure you are aware, the five stages of grief are as follows:

      1. Denial. 2. Anger. 3. Bargaining. 4. Depression. 5. Acceptance.

      White Christian males are currently in the anger stage in regards to these developments. However, as there numbers continue to decrease, they will have no choice but to go through stages 3 through 5 and things will get better.

  11. Author ignored that parties aren’t in the Constitution, or really necessary at all. They’re just private clubs that have wedged themselves between the voters and our representatives in order to empower and enrich themselves at others’ expense. Non-stop begging is a necessity, and who bites the hand that feeds them? We, the People, need to take responsibility for the kind of government we want.

    People have the same basic needs (food, clothing, shelter, income, and health care) but differ on implementation, location, and financing. The Citizens United decision prompted me to adapt unique career experience to draft a publicly funded campaigns option, funded by a tiny tax on individual IRS income tax filers. Differences are that prospective candidates must obtain written permission from thousands of Registered Voters to use our money. After paying FEC enrollment fee, they do no more begging. Do submit monthly expense reports on how they spent our money. Scale down to state and local elections. Several attorneys have reviewed and approved this draft legislation titled The Fair Elections Fund—a Whole New Ball Game©️, at @thefairelection

  12. It would be fascinating to see what american politics looks like in 20 or 30 years. (That is, if it manages to avoid the tyranny of a dynasty of this monster and his children, which I still think is inescapable).

    What would a three party system look like? Supposing a wild scenario:

    You could end up with a ” new Middle party president”, with a Senate that is 40% Fascist Party, 30% Dem, and 30% middle party, and a Congress that is 40% Middle Party, 40% Dem, and 20% Fascist Party.

    What would governing and making law look like under such a scenario? Yes, most democracies have more than 2 parties, and deals are actually cut for support. But I don’t see such bi (or tri) partisanship as part of the american psychological makeup.

    1. Absent major changes to the Constitution, there will never be a three party system in this country because the Electoral College and our first past the post electoral system strongly discourages it.

      The 2020s are going to be miserable for the reasons I note above – white Christian males have run this country since its founding and in the future they understand they won’t be permitted to do so alone and they find this to be absolutely unacceptable. So they are going to do everything they can to cling to power – you see it daily in the actions of their preferred party – the GOP.

      But there is hope. The 2024 election will be the Silent Generation’s swan song. After that election every single member of the Silent Generation will be over the age of 80. Once you hit that age, voting habits fall off the cliff due to death and illness. And 24 years from now – 2044 – every single member of the Baby Boomers will be over the age of 80.

      Expect a decade ahead that is worse than what we have gone through. But there is light at the end of the tunnel. Once white Christian males no longer have the numbers, they will have no choice to accept that they will rule this country in partnership with all other groups.

  13. I’ve said multiple times here (and on other online forums) that I’m a center-left Indy, but really now I’m a de facto Dem, because the GOP has gone off the rails and embraced science denial. I absolutely detest the racism, xenophobia, other forms of bigotry, and supply side economics too, but science denial is at the top of the list. I think the best thing for people of good will on the right (and the country as a whole) is for the GOP to follow the Federalists and the Whigs into political oblivion (or become a diminished regional party at worst) and to build a new sane center-right party. Or maybe the Dem party schisms because it’s grown too big and the non-progressive wing is the nucleus of the new party. Even if I never voted for anyone in this new sane center right/right party, I’d want it around, to keep the Dems accountable. I like Mary’s thought about more than 2 parties, but we’d have to change quite a few things, although an expansion of instant runoff voting would help.

    I wholeheartedly support The Lincoln Project in its mission for this election, and I just bought some of their gear (could not resist the “lie-swatter”, especially since I missed the chance to get the Biden/Harris campaign’s version). I’ve had plenty of conversions with anxious people to the left of me about The Lincoln Project, and these points are belabored again and again when someone praises them:

    Don’t you know that these people are GOPers?

    Yes, they’re not hiding that fact.

    Don’t you know that they used to make these sorts of ads against Dems?

    Yes, they’re also not hiding that fact.

    They’re just out to get Trump, but are fine with other GOPers.

    No, they’re also making attack ads against GOP Senators who have enabled Trump.

    Biden’s not getting their help for free, they’re going to expect something from him.

    No, there’s absolutely no indication of that. If it turns out there was some sort of secret deal, I’ll admit that I was wrong, but there is no talk from either the Biden camp or TLP about any obligations.

    I don’t like/trust these people.

    You don’t have to. You have zero obligations towards them. Just enjoy the ads and vote Blue.

    They’ll just turn on Biden after he’s elected.

    Possible, although I see no signs of it. Also that’s a problem I’d dearly love to have, because it means we are rid of the Trump Administration.

    1. The Never Trumpers will not be permitted to go back to the GOP after this election. They are fine with that. Some will become Democrats and I welcome them to the party. Some will leave political life altogether. And some will work to try to fix the GOP.

  14. Why not have a multi-party political system? I realize that for the immediate future, health and economic needs will of necessity, dominate and provide temporary cooperation. People are weary of chaos and accepting of changes to address critical problems. Beyond that, I wonder if a new political system has its best chance ever to get rolling?

    You did a post years ago on what alternative government for the US might be possible. Maybe it’s time to revisit this post and expand it for our political process. I’d love a link to this former post as I believe it is relevant to this discussion.

    I do agree on the surety of survival of the hard-core white far right as am unrelenting element in our lives. They simply have no place else to go and are too rigid to accept assimilation.

    These are fraught times.

  15. I don’t know whether to address this comment to Chris in the second person, or to the readers in the third person. I choose the second person option…

    Chris, I think you are underestimating the large number of Republicans who are NOT motivated by racism, or by populism run amok. I think there are a large number of life-long Republicans who are “Never Democrats.” I think their beliefs are strongly influenced by the spirit of rebellion against what they see as government intrusion into their lives.

    I live in the Shenandoah Valley of Virginia. I am surrounded by a vast majority of Republicans who are “Never Democrats,” yet most of them are fully supportive of minority equality. Here in Augusta County we have large numbers of both black and Hispanic people, and there is very little overt resistance to their full participation and full equality. They buy what homes they can afford, and they are generally welcomed by neighbors who, in the same economic stratum, have the same concerns and the same ambitions, simple universal things like maintaining property values and neighborhood appearances, improving the quality of the local schools, repairing potholes and shoveling snow. Their kids do not face resistance from either white kids or white parents.

    What those “Never Democrats” have in common is the unyielding adherence to the single core belief that “less government is better government.” They make no logical connection between all the government things they take for granted (like schools and pothole repairs and Social Security) and their religious adherence to the “no government intrusion” mantra.

    And at the other extreme, when I was living in The Villages in Florida, the environment was essentially the same. “Never Democrat” wasn’t about race, irrational populism, or facism; it was simply about “keep your government intrusion out of my life.” And for an example of that attitude, I cite a friend of mine from that world in The Villages. My age (mid-seventies), she had an excellent education and during her career she had been the CFO of two respected Universities. She explained her vote for Trump in 2016 very simply: “I can’t stand Donald Trump. But not only would I never vote for any Democrat, I would never fail to do my best from stopping any Democrat from getting elected. The Democratic Party is anathema to every thing I believe in.”

    That’s what I heard in Florida, and that’s what I hear in western Virginia. I think there’s a lot of that kind of thinking going around.

    1. “I think their beliefs are strongly influenced by the spirit of rebellion against what they see as government intrusion into their lives.”

      Which has its fundamental basis in the government telling Southerners they can’t own chattel slaves. Cf. Democracy in Chains by Nancy Maclean.

      But it’s hard, after so many generations, to get ‘well-meaning white folk’ to work backwards to find that information. AND, individuals like thinking that they are self-sufficient and capable, so it’s a primal appeal.

      Here’s how you can always call their bluff: find one of these ‘government should leave people alone’ people who are willing to fight tooth and nail to end the War on Drugs, a multi-level government program that has placed millions of American citizens into state bondage and control and enabled on each level from local police precincts through the Supreme Court, and watch how quickly the rights of individuals are poo-pooed away with “Well if they didn’t go looking for trouble…” Bonus if you ask them if they’ve used drugs, and why they’ve never been incarcerated for it.

      And that’s where you don’t even need history to show the lie.

    2. IOW, I can’t be racist because I have black friends 🙂 The people you’re describing, your friends and neighbors, aren’t overt racists, but they don’t see the structural racism that still oppresses people. Those Black and Hispanic neighbors are no doubt friendly to you, but you have no idea what they complain about in private. You don’t see how much harder they had to work than you to buy that house next to yours.

      Chris Rock had a great monologue about this. Basically, that in his affluent neighborhood, his black neighbors are phenomenally successful and wealthy celebrities and athletes, while his next door neighbor is just a dentist. While the details aren’t exactly true, the truth he’s pointing out, that it takes a lot more wealth for a black person than a white person to get into an affluent community (and then finally enjoy their advantages like better schools, safer environment, acceptance, etc.) is true:

      That’s the whole point of structural racism: you don’t have to hate minorities. You just have to be blind (or not care enough) to the thousand little (and not so little) obstacles that they deal with on a daily basis, that over a lifetime, add up to significantly diminished outcomes compared to a white person who put in the same effort and work.

      And yes, saying you don’t need no stinkin’ government is great once you’ve gotten ahead. But for the ones trying to get there, government’s helping hand is usually very welcome. As the saying goes, when you grow up in privilege, equality looks like oppression. So I’m not surprised some people think a government that’s trying to force equality should be resisted to the death.

      P.S. Ask your mid-seventies neighbor who would never vote for a democrat whether she believes in Medicare…

  16. I too have been donating to the Lincoln Project. Your email prodded me to make another small donation to them. There is a moderate to conservative wing of the Democrat Party. Several congresswoman from Orland Fla are part of that wing. Both minorities. But they won in a minority majority county. I think eventually the Democrat Party could split into a moderate to conservative party and a progressive party.
    Currently I am registered Democrat. But I am a former Republican like you. I tried decades ago to tell the local county chairman of the Republican party we had to start appealing to minority voters who were increasing in number. If we did we could be purple not turn blue. At that time we deep red. Well he blew me off. Now we are a bright blue. But there still are conservatives in Orlando but most of them are in the Democrat party.
    There is a place for these guys. Maybe not as lucrative but still a place. These guys were in my opinion the cream of the old GOP. I admire someone who puts principle above personal interest.

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