R.I.P. GOP: Is the Republican party already dead?

At a Republican town hall last night, the three remaining GOP candidates — Donald Trump, Ted Cruz, and John Kasich — were all asked if they would support the eventual GOP nominee.

They all declined.

From WaPo:

Mogul Donald Trump, Texas Sen. Ted Cruz and Ohio Gov. John Kasich were each given a chance during a CNN town hall in Milwaukee to definitively state they would support the nominee. All three declined to renew their pledge. As recently as March 3, in a Fox News debate, all three said they would support the nominee.

Trump said Tuesday that he believes establishment Republicans and the Republican National Committee in particular have not treated him with respect.

Cruz was asked three times by Cooper whether he would support the nominee.

“I’m not in the habit of supporting someone who attacks my wife and attacks my family,” Cruz said, making reference to Trump.

Kasich said he would have to “see what happens” in the race before he could answer the question.

Serious question: If no one currently running for President (a person who will also be the putative head of the Republican party) is willing to support the GOP nominee, does the Republican Party even exist anymore?

A message from North Carolina's government, via Shutterstock

A message from North Carolina’s government, via Shutterstock.

There’s been a lot of talk about the death of the GOP this year, but last night might have effectively been the final nail in the coffin. If Trump, Cruz and Kasich are all willing to take their ball and go home — if they’re all willing to ignore the loyalty pledge they all signed — then what’s left of the party?

Second question, less serious than the first: How the heck does GOP Chair Reince Priebus still have a job? The Republican National Committee’s donors have to be livid about this whole situation. How on earth has Priebus survived this long? It’s bad enough that someone as extreme as Trump is likely to be the nominee, but as a result there is serious debate as to whether the US House is now in play in November.

Will Priebus even last to the convention?

Most of the press coverage around this is focused on Trump. But this is also a disaster for Reince Priebus. I can’t think of another example of this happening in modern presidential politics.

Priebus will forever be remembered as the chair who fiddled as the GOP burned.

Melissa Ryan
Melissa Ryan is a political consultant. She’s spent a decade leading digital campaigns for nonprofits and political races, including EMILY’s List, Barack Obama’s 2012 reelection campaign, the New Organizing Institute, and Senator Russ Feingold’s campaign. Visit her website at melissaryan.net or follow her on Twitter @MelissaRyan.

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  • Bill_Perdue

    ”PRINCETON,
    N.J. — In 2015, for the fifth consecutive year, at least four in 10 U.S.
    adults identified as political independents. The 42% identifying as
    independents in 2015 was down slightly from the record 43% in 2014. This
    elevated percentage of political independents leaves Democratic (29%) and
    Republican (26%) identification at or near recent low points, with the modest
    Democratic advantage roughly where it has been over the past five
    years.”
    http://www.gallup.com/poll/188096/democratic-republican-identification-near-historical-lows.aspx?utm_source=alert&utm_medium=email&utm_content=morelink&utm_campaign=syndication

  • Bill_Perdue

    It’s already happened.

  • Tiberius Picard

    When Trump wins what? The GOP nomination? Perhaps, but he cannot win the Presidency, so what difference does it make?

  • Tiberius Picard

    No, just the GOP will split and lose massive numbers. The Dems will not split over Bernie or Hillary.

  • It has to do with which seats are up in 2018. It’s not about the overall trend (which we can’t possibly predict this far out anyway). In terms of long term trend you are right but we might be looking at another decade for that to take effect and since a lot could happen between now and then any predictions would just be guesses. There are a number of seats this year where Republicans won in blue states in 2010 during the tea party uproar and many Democrats sitting out the election. In 2018 there are some of the opposite in which Democrats did better because of turnout for Obama. Also, Republicans tend to be better about turnout in non-presidential election years. I would love to change that but that’s been the trend for some time now. (2006 being a big exception.)

  • Tiberius Picard

    Nothing I can think of would make the American people put another Republican in the White House. Bush ruined that for the GOP. Since 2004, the GOP membership has dropped by 1/3 and the Dems have grown even larger than before.

    A national disaster or attack is no reason to put a Republican in there. The last Republican president started two wars without verified reasons to do so and it crashed the US economy.

  • Tiberius Picard

    How do you figure the map will be better for Republicans in 2018? By then, almost 25% of them will be DEAD! The vast majority of the GOP are elderly white people. There are fewer Republicans today than there were in 2008. The younger generation is both non-white and also they are not becoming Republicans, they are not declaring or going Democrat. Part of being in the GOP these days is doggedly clinging to obsolete thinking and self-delusion (helped by Fox News). The NUMBERS are now irreversibly skewed against any future GOP Presidential victory. There will never be another Republican president.

    The future battles are going to be between the Democrats and perhaps the Socialist Democrats like Bernie Sanders, who is not really a Democrat but a Socialist.

    Being a low information voter is a personal choice, not an accident.

  • Bill_Perdue

    The RP will split and lose massive numbers of disgusted supporters and so will the DP. The age of ‘lesser evil’ candidates, policies and parties is over for all practical purposes.

    That’s good news.

  • 1nancy2

    I agree.

  • No, she’s not perfect. Neither is anyone else. Do you think someone is? Please, share your list of perfect people. I disagree with Bernie on a lot of things. He’s not perfect either. That’s why I took several months considering both before deciding whom to vote for on Super Tuesday.

    Not perfect does not mean mediocre. I can think of some great people who had serious flaws or off days. Mediocre? not at all. It’s not the same thing.

  • Keep those champagne bottles corked until after the election. Celebrate for a week and then get back to work for 2018 (when the Senate map is more favorable to Republicans). There was a lot of “death of the GOP” talk in 2009. And then look what happened. Democrats are in a stronger position going forward but there’s a lot of muddled messaging and there’s also the possibility of a good number of Sanders supporters staying home this November. (I think there’s a better chance of Trump or Cruz supporters doing that, but even so.) Democrats are not good about showing up and Republicans are better overall at messaging, especially in the general. They will be poised to take advantage of anything that goes wrong and there are a lot of things that could go wrong. I don’t say this to discourage anyone. I say it because I’ve seen Democrats get overconfident and then crash and burn too many times.

  • Yes, they do. If there is an attack like Paris or Brussels in a major US city, that could work in the favor of an authoritarian candidate. Scared people act irrationally. (See the 2003 lack of debate over the Iraq war.)

  • DoverBill

    Anyone with an ei” in his first name and an “ie” in his last has to be fucked up.

    Who could possibly do this to their child?

  • woodroad34

    Not sure what that means. The republicans were warned, but they did nothing. The Republican base is a “tossing sea” that’s turned up mire and dirt. I used the above references because the Republican Right is so “holier than thou” when it suits them. Having the mirror reflect back on them more than likely will cause them to go blind.

  • Demosthenes

    Picky picky picky

  • Caseyjr

    The accumulation of power as a means to itself is not a suitable governing platform for our republic. Controlling all the power, you run out of scapegoats.

  • Phil in FLL

    Political parties are labels, and the content of those labels can change over the course of 50 or 100 years. The last realignment was after the 1964 Civil Rights Act, when Lyndon Johnson correctly predicted that “we [the Democratic Party] will lose the South for a generation.” Pro-segregation Southerners began to switch to the Republican Party during Nixon’s “Southern strategy,” and the process was complete by the 1990s.

    As far as the demise of the Republican Party, I just think that the ideological contents of the Republican Party label might begin to change. In 1912, the Republican Party split in two (conservative and progressive), and the Democrats under Wilson won the White House for the next eight years, but then rebounded in 1920 under Calvin Coolidge, who held the White House for the next eight years. I think that is more or less what will happen to the Republican Party this time around. They will split and lose the White House for probably eight years, but the Republican Party label will remain. When the Republicans eventually rebound, the ideological contents of the Republican Party will most likely be much different.

  • robnbc

    Ah the “trumpet” = Trump = clever! Trump is cleansing the earth of hair-brained republicans and clearing the way for a socialist Jew ( Jesus ? ) It all makes sense now :)

  • Ol’ Hippy

    The Trump factor has brought to light the undercurrent of the GOP. All the dirty secrets of the party are there in all the ugliness that is the undercurrent of the US govt. The govt stopped working for the people long ago when the economy was based on warfare after WW II. There just hasn’t been a transition away from warfare. Now this cannot be sustained and candidates from both sides really don’t know how to live peacefully. It’s just that the GOP encourages it overtly. Cruz has said he’s ruin the Iran deal as soon as he took office. For anyone actually paying attention The Iran deal is the crowning jewel in Obama’s policy. It stops immediately going to war, which every GOP candidate would support since ’08. The democrats aren’t too much better, but at least they’re not talking war outright. The BIG things a liberal president brings would be a Supreme Court and a guarantee of keeping our civil rights without sectarian ideologies restricting heathcare access especially for a woman’s right to chart her own path. The GOP won’t address the climate crisis either which I believe threatens the security of the US more than the idiot terrorists in the ME. The terrorists are indeed a problem, but launching military action won’t solve the problem and would probably make it worse. So VOTE this fall and help preserve the freedoms we have.

  • 2karmanot

    Quietly shuts door in face.

  • Sorry but Hillary and Congress winning in a landslide this fall just isn’t going to happen and having Hillary as president is not going to make me happy. And yes she’s being honest there but she’s not selling herself which she needs to do to win against Trump. It’s also why Bernie’s closing in on her, but not fast enough, unfortunately.

  • Brian Slater

    There is no such thing as perfect, in politics. She is being truthful. She knows her weaknesses. She is stating that out of all the choices for president, she may not be perfect but she is the best of the bunch. While at the same time, her and Bernie have been having very substantive policy debates. I see nothing wrong with this. She has many good ideas for the country. See them on her website. She just came out forcefully against Citizens United and indicates that if she gets to appoint a justice to SCOTUS, she will have a litmus test for that issue. This is big. NO Republican wants to overrule that decision. Even though, I think a majority of Americans (R and D) want money OUT of politics. Lets try to make that happen by giving DEMs a chance to move the country left again like we did for them in 2006 and then in 2008. If they control all branches of gov’t including SCOTUS, there is a very good chance that we can get some very good liberal decisions from the court and it will stop the constant barrage of lawsuits against everything Obama has done. What Hillary says may not be all that exciting. But you have to go a step further and understand what the difference is if we have a D or and R as president. I am very excited about the chance to tip the balance of SCOTUS to the left for decades if we elect a D to the presidency NOW. The DEMs will win back the Senate and there is an excellent change for them to take the House if Trump is the nominee. Just image waking up the day after the election and turning on the news or opening your Facebook to find that the balance of power has shifted in both chambers of Congress and Hillary won in a landslide. If that isn’t exciting to you, I don’t know what else possibly could be. IMO.

  • Fred Weller

    They are about to lose both the Senate AND the SC in addition to the presidency. If the spectacularly unpopular Trump is the nominee, their House majority is endangered as well.

    In every election MILLIONS more votes are cast for Democratic Representatives than republicans, yet the republicans maintain a large majority in that chamber. I wonder why that is.

  • Tiberius Picard

    So, does the GOP have any chance at all for anything or are they just marking time?

  • Tiberius Picard

    That is a short sighted comment. Look how they got those houses, and then ask yourself if they can keep them and you will see that what Fred said is indeed true. The control the GOP has in the House and the Senate is “coasting”. Once there are new elections, the GOP will be out of power. Look at gerrymandering by the GOP as well. Even with gerrymandering, the shrinkage of the GOP voter base and the increasingly isolated ideology it carries is on it’s deathbed.

    Also, as Fred said: There will never be another Republican president. Not ever.

  • I’d agree with this. Hillary herself just called herself mediocre yesterday with this tweet: “Some folks may have the luxury to hold out for “the perfect.” But a lot of Americans are hurting right now and they can’t wait for that.”

    Who the hell can get excited about that? I’m not perfect is I’m mediocre but the best there is to offer. This is the Dems platform and why they are sucking so bad.

  • woodroad34

    Of the Republican party:

    Ezekiel 33:1-33 ESV

    The word of the Lord came to me: “Son of man, speak to your people and say to them, If I bring the sword upon a land, and the people of the land take a man from among them, and make him their watchman, and if he sees the sword coming upon the land and blows the trumpet and warns the people, then if anyone who hears the sound of the trumpet does not take warning, and the sword comes and takes him away, his blood shall be upon his own head. He heard the sound of the trumpet and did not take warning; his blood shall be upon himself. But if he had taken warning, he would have saved his life. …

    Isaiah 57:20 ESV

    But the wicked are like the tossing sea; for it cannot be quiet, and its waters toss up mire and dirt.

  • LuigiDaMan

    Priebus will have this job as long as he wants it. Delusion is part of the game that’s played in Republican circles.

  • In almost every election I can remember, the winning candidate was the one who painted a picture of America’s future. “At least I’m not the other guy/gal” is not a winning strategy. It might work but just barely. Trump’s supporters believe Trump will lead the country out of the mess we are in at the moment. As delusional as that sounds, it’s what they believe. Clinton is going to have to offer a better version of that. As much as I’d like for campaigns to be about policy and qualifications, it’s really about the narrative. Trump understands that and I don’t think the media and most other politicians do.

  • Living in Teabagistan, I can say from many conversations (mostly just listening because I know not to get in the middle of angry right-wingers fighting) that there are a lot more shades of red than most Democrats acknowledge. The differences don’t show as much because Republicans have been (until this year at least) much more likely to shut up and follow the party line. But that hasn’t gotten most of them anywhere and they are angry about it. I first saw this divide cracking in a big way in Texas during the Cruz-Dewhurst primary in 2012. it was ugly with Cruz representing Tea Partiers and Dewhurst representing the party establishment. Dewhurst (who was hardly different on any issue from Cruz) got clobbered mostly because of his endorsements from the party elite. If the GOP leadership didn’t see both Trump and Cruz coming by fall 2012, then they were not paying attention (which is likely because both party’s leadership are out of touch with the 99%).

  • There are so many variables. I am not overconfident about November. Yes, I think Clinton wins with probably more electoral votes than Obama got in 2008, but a lot can happen in the next seven months and as you point out if the election goes to the House we are fucked. Having the other party is disarray could be a disaster for us and not the boon some Democrats are hoping for.

  • That’s a good point. Could anyone do any better with that mess? I can’t imagine who or how.

    As for not representing the party, that’s a hilarious comment to make about the frontrunner. Obviously 35-40% of Republicans think he represents the party better than anyone else running this year. Interesting that I don’t hear anyone saying that Sanders doesn’t represent at least a significant part of the Democratic Party. I think most of us agree with at least some of what he says. We have our own problems this year, but nothing like Trump or Cruz. Note: I think Cruz says things that are far worse. Trump mouths off. Most of what he says is just something he thought of at the moment with no specific plan to implement it. (Mexico is going to pay for the wall? That’s some funny shit. Of course they aren’t.) Cruz means what he says and if elected would do it. Add Trump and Cruz and you have a sizeable majority. I realize that the country club crowd still thinks of themselves as the real Republicans but their party was taken over by the Teavangelicals years ago. Most of them live in safe suburbs near deep blue cities. They have no idea about the rest of the country, especially the red states, not that they’d ever visit some hellhole like Mississippi.

  • I’ve heard several conservatives admit that they were wrong not to call out Trump on the birther nonsense years ago. They let this fester. The news media are doing what they’ve been doing to the news for a couple of decades now. The cover what is good for ratings, not what informs everyone. Do Americans know that the Brazilians are about to impeach their president? Or about terrorist attacks since Brussels? Probably not because it’s more important to keep that camera on the empty podium from which Trump may speak in the next hour or so. There is less news on CNN these days than there is music on MTV. It’s an embarrassment and worse that people take those shitty outlets seriously as if they are still doing news or performing a public service.

  • A minor religious cult that controls both houses of Congress and half the Supreme Court. That’s not exactly death if you ask me.

  • How does Priebus still have a job? The same way Wasserman-Schulz does. Party elites must love them. Or some other reason we don’t know about. Both of them suck at promoting their respective parties. Yes, the GOP has a mess but if you think Democrats don’t, you haven’t been paying attention. Both parties have broad-based resentment of how the party establishment operates, and not without good reason. The Democrats have a smaller mess but it’s still a mess. Plus a nasty game of identity politics that seems to grow more toxic every day. Let’s not gloat. We did enough of that in 2009 and look where that got us.

  • Fred Weller

    The republican party as such has been dead for quite some time now. They have devolved from a major national political party into a minor regional religious cult. There will never be another republican president.

  • mark_in_toronto

    The GOP would have been MORE dead and SOONER if the goddamn media would stop this Trump ass-licking. The American media are officially “Trump News – All Trump . . . All the Time”
    It’s downright disgusting.

  • RepubAnon

    Yes, RNC Chair is becoming the new House Speaker job: anyone holding the job is caught between the Scylla of the Tea Party fanatics and the Charybdis of the Wall Street big donors

    Hopefully the GOP will learn the inherent problem of training the base that compromise is weakness and betrayal, and then asking them to unite behind a candidate that they didn’t support. My hope is that:
    * Trump wins enough delegates to be entitled to a first-round nomination
    * The Cruz campaign and the Republican leadership engage in some back-room rule changes, steal enough Trump delegates to deny Trump a first-rouind win, and give the nomination to someone like Paul Ryan
    *Der Donald employs his “do unto to others far more than they did unto you” philosophy, and goes third party
    * The Democratic candidate wins in a historic sweep.

    God help us all if the election got thrown into the House.

  • RepubAnon
  • judybrowni

    If only.

    However, whichever shit stain wrestles the nomination down, Republican bot voters will pull the lever marked “R.”

    We can only hope Republican voter suppression doesn’t block too many of the voters who would vote for Democrats.

  • Mike_in_the_Tundra

    An old Boy Scout song – just substitute GOP for cat:

    Now old Mr. Johnson had troubles of his own,
    He had a yellow cat that wouldn’t leave his home,
    He tried and he tried to get that cat away,
    Gave it to a man going far away.

    But the cat came back, the very next day,
    The cat came back, they thought he was a goner,
    But the cat came back, just wouldn’t stay away.

    Now the man around the corner swore he’d kill the cat on sight,
    He loaded up his shotgun with nails and dynamites,
    he waited and he waited for the cat to come around,
    Ninety-seven pieces of the man is all they found.

    But the cat came back, the very next day,
    The cat came back, they thought he was a goner,
    But the cat came back, just wouldn’t stay away.

    The song goes on and on like a good camp song should.

  • There’s a reason Priebus still has a job as RNC Chairman: No one else wants the position. Given where the party is now, it’s too late for anybody to fix what’s gone horribly wrong. The time for that would’ve been early last year, when the various candidates were announcing their intent to run for President. Right now, it’d be like accepting a promotion to be captain of the Titanic — as the ship is in the middle of being ripped apart by the iceberg.

    It’s just about guaranteed though he won’t last through the trouncing the party is likely to experience this November. (On the other hand, if they do keep him on as Chairman after this debacle, I’d be much more willing to consider the party to be on hospice-care life support at that point.)

    However, I do think, as others have already noted, that it’s premature to declare already dead the party that right now has majorities in Congress, has four GOP-friendly SCOTUS justices, and also controls a majority of states and governorships. That said though, it’s possible the party could suffer major crippling losses this cycle, to the point where it’s bad enough there is a major political realignment not unlike that which apparently happens roughly every 40 years in America. (And yes, we are overdue for one.)

    One detail is quite funny though: Time and time again, GOP leaders and candidates have been declaring that “Donald Trump does not represent our party’s values.” And yet, aside from a few minor apostasies which are not mentioned (such as blaming W for 9/11 and declaring the Iraq war a terrible mistake), Trump actually epitomizes current Republican party ideals and has merely swapped in a bullhorn for the usual dog-whistle and then cranked the volume to 11. Border wall? The GOPers are all over that and have been for more than a decade. Discriminating against immigrants and refugees who happen to be Muslims? Core GOP value there. Advocating torture and abridging basic liberties such as the free press and the right to protest? Yep. Promising MOAR WARZ in the Middle East? Yes, indeedy. Americans need to work harder for less money? Core GOP value. Racism, misogyny, anti-LGBT discrimination — right on down the line.

    In fact, I’d really appreciate it if, the next time a Republican says Trump “doesn’t represent the party’s values”, they be asked to identify where exactly he diverges from the party’s ideals and values.

  • I never said there wasn’t a difference, just that the blue side has to do more than just getting by on “it could be much worse” – it’s a platform that will not hold up much longer. Critiquing the blue side is also something that should be embraced rather than met with derision as the GOP has obviously not been doing that and they are showing what happens when reflection is seen as betrayl.

  • doug dash

    There are many shades of blue and many shades of red. However, anyone who believes there is not much difference between blue and red is blind.

  • And let me welcome back Melissa, who hasn’t written for a while because her jobs didn’t permit. Yeah!

  • iamlegion

    They all declined. But when Trump wins, I bet you money every single shitstain that graced a debate stage this past year will roll over, show their bellies, and beg Trump for a cabinet position. You thought Christie looked pathetic? You ain’t seen nothin’ yet.

  • Demosthenes

    You write an excellent comment. I would add that the GOP is hardly near death, given their control of both houses of Congress and most state governments.

  • The Democrats are running out of steam with this “at least we’re not as bad as them” platform (regarding your comment that “OUR corporate overlords are more benevolent than THEIR corporate overlords.”) If they do not address this and start tackling real issues that matter to the people, especially the upcoming generations, like the corrupt banking industry, instutional racism, fracking, etc. and adopting a more generally liberal platform, they will be in trouble too.

  • dcinsider

    The GOP is not dead by a long-shot.

    Like the Democrats, Republicans are a loose coalition of special interests.

    GOP has the bible-thumping under-educated bigots; white supremacists; free market conservatives; neo-con war mongers; corporate bigshots and 3 WASPs from Connecticut.

    Democrats have socialist ideologues; free market liberals; old-fashioned liberals; pot smokers; neo-con war mongers with a conscience; corporate bigshots and a handful of Kennedys.

    Everyone else is an Independent.

    It’s not so much that the GOP doesn’t exist, it’s just about who happens to be controlling the dialogue and money in any given year.

    For the GOP it’s still the mainstream, corporate bigshots and their candidates, but that is under attack and it remains to be seen if this election will wrestle away that control.

    For the Dems its still the mainstream corporate bigshots and their candidates. but that is also under attack but with a less cohesive strategy and almost no hope for success.

    I say this as a strong Hillary supporter, but I think this is the reality of the two political parties.

    And I do not suggest a false equivalency here, because we know too well that the GOP is horrible on civil rights and the Dems are way ahead on that, as well as social justice and equality issues.

    It’s just that OUR corporate overlords are more benevolent than THEIR corporate overlords.

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