I'm not a Republican, so the identity crisis of the GOP shouldn't really matter to me. But it does. Though I'm not formally a member of the party, I vote overwhelmingly for Republicans, especially in non-local elections (in which competence matters more than philosophy), because they're more likely to give me some of the things on my conservative-libertarian wish list. Democrats won't give me any; even the ones who say they will toss me a morsel or two (like Indiana's Democratic U.S. Sen. Joe Donnelly) are mostly just kidding. The Libertarian Party would probably give me more than either major party, but it seems more interested in philosophical purity than in winning elections.
So if they GOP isn't a viable political party, where do those of us somewhere on the right go to have at least a small voice in the nation's business? And let's face it, the Republican Party, though nominally controlling all of the federal government, is in trouble. It is either has lost its way, straying (or galloping) from its†raison d'Ítre, or else it is already in its death throes and just won't acknowledge it.†
Angelo Codevilla,†professor emeritus of international relations at Boston University, is inclined toward the latter view:
Having refused to repeal Obamacare, the Republican Party is dead, as was the Whig Party in 1854 after it colluded in the passage of the Kansas-Nebraska Act which opened these territories to slavery.
In his opinion, the only reason people still have for voting Republican is that they don't want to be governed by a ruling class, headed by the Democratic Party, which is†"restricting, insulting and impoverishing the country." But many (maybe most) of the Republicans we elect to office have the same interests and ideas as those Democrats, so in effect we do not have two parties but a†Uni-party that has†no viable political vehicle for opposition.
Alas, I agree with his assessment, as well as his opinion that a third party is not really the answer. That would just fracture the country further for no good reason, perhaps merely throwing the election to one faction or other of the Uni-party, as Ross Perot snatched victory from George H.W. Bush and gave it to Bill Clinton on a silver platter:
The New Party would be about returning America to the rule of law under the Constitution. That would mean rolling back the judicial-administrative state that is restricting economic activity, religious freedom and imposing an alien morality on America.
The party would tailor ingress of foreign labor to America's needs, and treat citizenship as a privilege. Its foreign policy would aggressively defend vital interests while ending indecisive warfare.
There is no doubt that the New Party's core would be formed by people who currently label themselves Republican, just as the original Republicans were mostly re-labeled Whigs, or that the new party would pursue much of what the Republicans have purported to pursue, just as the original Republicans pursued much of the old Whigs' agenda.
I agree with that as well. The problem is that I'm not sure how we get there. I'm not sure Codevilla has thought about it all that much, either. All the says that if a New Party candidate runs for president in 2020, it is certain the GOP candidate would get fewer votes than either the New Party candidate or the Democratic candidate (I think that's just an unsupportable guess, however). Since neither of the two would get a majority of electoral votes, the election would go to the House of Representatives, each state casting one vote: "The majority of states have a majority of Republican Congressmen. Whoever of these voted for the Democrat would cut himself off from his district. Whoever voted for the New Party candidate would thereby be applying for membership."
That sounds like wishful thinking to me, that something so dramatic and transformational could happen so easy and quickly, sparked by one presidential contest. I suspect this evolution (or evolution, if I may engage in my own wishful thinking) will be painful, arduous and drawn-out.
Not that now isn't a great time for a New Party to catch fire. With the Bernie Sanders wing of the party now in the ascendancy, and the embrace of fringe whack jobs like Antifa, the Democrats are moving so far from the mainstream of American politics that they're becoming irrelevant. And between the Republicans intent on identifying with that Death Wish and the ones dreaming of tarring and feathering the congressional leadership, there is definitely a void to be filled there.
All of this makes the Trump presidency worthy of intense scrutiny above and beyond the politics of the day. The loyalty of his Nationalist and Populist followers might be the seed bed in which a new idea takes hold. Or their crackup when they realize getting their candidate in doesn't mean much in the long run might be the spark that lights a fire under conservatives put in a coma by politics as usual.
It's ain't going to be boring, that's for sure.