The Alternative for GOP Reformers Already Exists

This morning Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell dropped the “if true” language about Roy Moore.

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) said Monday that Alabama Senate GOP candidate Roy Moore should leave the race, saying he believes the women who have accused Moore of sexual misconduct.

“I think he should step aside,” McConnell told reporters in Louisville, adding: “I believe the women, yes.”

Moore responded:

This is the part of the story that isn’t getting much attention. This feud between Moore and McConnell is ground zero for the civil war that is currently taking place between the establishment and insurgents in the Republican Party.

The trouble is, this is not a fair fight. As I’ve said before, McConnell is destined to lose this one because regardless of whether or not Moore wins in Alabama, the insurgents already have both the right wing media and the GOP base on their side. That is what leads Martin to write that the Republican Party will die. Conservative columnist Jennifer Rubin agrees and says, “The GOP can’t be rebranded. Let’s junk it.” She’s not interested in either side of this civil war.

So the future of the GOP? It’s either a nationalist front party or a battleground mostly between Trumpists and strident ultra-right-wingers whose platform (repeal Obamacare; corporate tax cuts; reckless foreign policy that imagines war with Iran and/or North Korea are viable options) is unacceptable to the vast majority of the country. It’s not a civil war in which I’d have a favorite side.

The fact that there isn’t much daylight between the two factions fighting this civil war indicates that it is actually more about power than it is about policy or governing.

The problem I always come back to with conservatives like Rubin is, “what would a replacement party that cares about governing look like?” Here’s what she writes:

…those who favor reform conservatism; responsible internationalism; free trade and robust immigration; tolerance and the rule of law; and market economics with an ample safety net.

Let’s break that down, shall we?

  1. Reform conservatism – who knows that that means?
  2. Responsible internationalism – does she mean things like working with the international community to negotiate an end to Iran’s attempt to develop nuclear weapons? Or imposing international sanctions on Russia for their invasion of Ukraine? Perhaps she means working with over 200 countries to come up with a plan to curb global warming.
  3. Free trade – only 35 percent of Republicans favor it, but 67 percent of Democrats do.
  4. Robust immigration – that’s another one that Democrats support.
  5. Tolerance – Ditto above
  6. Rule of law – Ditto above
  7. Market economics with an ample safety net – we can talk about the definition of “ample,” but once again, that is something Democrats support.

This demonstrates what I’ve been saying for years now. After George W. Bush’s misadventures, the Republicans found themselves without an agenda. Instead, they decided to go with obstruction and fanned the flames of racism and extremism to fuel it. That monster came back in their faces. Now McConnell and Bannon are locked in a civil war that is nothing more than a power struggle.

That leaves people like Rubin and other conservatives with the task of coming up with an agenda. But to be pragmatic, it ultimately means embracing the same things Democrats stand for because their policies actually work. If Rubin wants to find an alternative to the civil war that is raging in her party, it already exists.

Nancy LeTourneau

Nancy LeTourneau is a contributing writer for the Washington Monthly.