The GOP after Trump

Remember the convulsions of the 2012 Republican primary when kooky and absurd people like Michele Bachmann, Herman Cain or Newt Gingrich surged before Mitt Romney bagged it? In retrospect, that wasn't just primaries frivolity, but a strong wish by the GOP base to go insane.

GOP Primaries Leaders 2012

They reluctantly settled with staid and reliable Romney, but their hearts and bodies wanted to let their freak flags fly. Of course, Trump is a Voltron of Gingrich's adultery and creepiness, Cain's ignorance and Bachmann's fervour (if non-religious), so he naturally won in 2016. And now Republican voters have been, umm, "satisfied" every day for four years, they will most likely never return to a new Romney's dutiful attentions. Those are just not appealing anymore if you can also have authoritarian populism. Why get vanilla if you can have cocoa and razorblades?

So neither a 2012-like analysis of the GOP's electoral shortcomings nor anything else may stem that populist urge, perhaps absent reforms to the primary system giving party elites more say. But Trumpists hate a Mitch McConnell only slightly less than a Nancy Pelosi - all swamp creatures! So this genie is out of the bottle, but the good news for the GOP is that authoritarian populism is not necessarily overtly racist, and younger men regardless of skin colour are already getting more sympathetic to the GOP message as it is. So a Tucker Carlson or someone similar could be very competitive in 2024 with a simple anti-establishment and anti-political correctness message of economic populism, protectionism, and barriers to immigration.

"The elites only give you pronouns and handouts. But I give you work and dignity!"

Watch out!


Republicans, Democrats, and men

The Democrats should not take Joe Biden's lead for granted long-term.

This analysis shows how Trump has gained with younger people, men and college graduates compared to 2016, regardless of race. For example, a young black man is not an automatic Democratic voter! Biden is leading Trump because he has gained more with older people (who vote more reliably), women, and non-college graduates. But as Hillary Clinton's performance showed, those groups are not automatic Democratic voters either. If you strip away Trump's tweeting, his grotesque appearance, corruption, incompetence, laziness, ignorance and evilness, the deliberate stoking of animus, the catastrophic bungling of the pandemic response etc., he has been a fairly "normal", populist Republican President. And particularly younger men like that, whatever their skin colour.

So if the Republicans can avoid a California GOP-like death spiral of increasingly open racism and QAnon kookery, their obvious route for 2024 and beyond is to field a competent, populist, outwardly less racist person. That person, say a Josh Hawley, would then decry the rapacious, neoliberal, identity-obsessed (Democratic) establishment which seemingly offers poor black or Hispanic people only, say, "pronouns and welfare", but not good jobs. He would make it seem attractive to shake things up. So if the Republican message in 2024 was "Stop bad trade deals, low-wage immigration, bad infrastructure" etc., what would a good Democratic response be to sway, for example, a 25-year-old Hispanic man in Florida? "What he said, but with open borders"? Obviously no.

This means that the Democrats need a strong platform after Biden!