How Trump Keeps the Party

Markos Moulitsas has a post up that discusses the coming civil war in the Republican Party. His take is somewhat different from mine, but he’s identified something that I’ve been hitting on. Paul Ryan is in no way the natural heir to Trump to the lead the party.

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Regardless of what Washington DC Republicans might think, the base just doesn’t take Ryan’s side against Trump.

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In recent days I’ve written three posts about Trump, Ryan and the future of the GOP.

Paul Ryan’s Speakership Will End
Our Future is Not in Paul Ryan’s Hands
How the GOP Will Split Apart Next Year

Markos focuses less on personalities and leaders and more on factions. The Tea Party (as Kos defines it) is the largest faction at about half of the Republican base. The social conservatives make up about 30% and the “Establishment” that aligns with Paul Ryan constitutes a quarter. He argues that (Koch Brothers aside) the Tea Party faction doesn’t have any money. On the other hand, the Establishment doesn’t have any voters. And the social conservatives are basically defeated and preparing for a long political winter.

There’s a lot of truth to this, but what can we surmise from it?

As I’ve been saying, the most important thing in politics is votes. If Republicans in Congress are going to put themselves at risk of losing a primary if they do what the Establishment wants, most of them are not going to do it. Money plays a big part in winning elections, but it’s even better to avoid having to face a primary at all. And it shouldn’t be forgotten that both Trump and Bernie Sanders raised a ton of money from small donors in this cycle, proving that chasing corporate money isn’t the only way to finance a campaign.

So, what we’re looking at is a party that can’t do Wall Street’s bidding even if it wants to. It can’t make K Street happy. It can’t make the U.S. Chamber of Commerce happy. And it’s not going to be in the White House.

The GOP is kind of useless tool in these circumstances, and it could be headed the way of the California Republican Party. All the action will be on the Democratic side.

I don’t think Trump can launch a real news network. The boycotts of potential advertisers would be crippling enough, but Trump can’t run anything profitably. And now that his creditworthiness has been destroyed in the light of the campaign, he won’t find gullible investors. If Trump is going to stay relevant it will be through lower budget ventures similar to Breitbart. He’ll use those platforms more effectively than Palin did, and he’ll do it almost exclusively to settle scores with Republicans who he feels double-crossed him.

His issues will be crime, trade, immigration and antiestablishmentarian opposition to all cooperation with President Clinton on spending. It should be enough to keep most Republicans in line and grind the government to a halt.

In other words, even after election day, the job of breaking our gridlock and sidelining Trump will not be done. And the bigger half of the GOP will be afraid to get in Trump’s crosshairs.

He won’t need to start a third party because he’ll already effectively control one.

And the traditional Republican monied interests?

They’ll start ignoring the Republicans and working on gaining influence with the Democrats.

That might discomfort a lot of progressives but it’s one of those good problems to have.

Martin Longman

Martin Longman is the web editor for the Washington Monthly and the main blogger at Booman Tribune.