I have to admit that it is fun watching the Republicans go through these paroxysms of extremism as they get ready to choose their presidential candidate, but in the back of my mind, I’m wondering what it’s going to be like when they actually choose someone, run them in the general election, and hold out the possibility that they win? What would this country look like with a President Trump? Or Walker? Or even yet again another Bush?
Yes, it would be a huge step back for a lot of policies and programs, and it might scare the crap out of our allies and give comfort to those who harbor ill will because the jingoists have won, and that usually indicates both a lack of depth of understanding of the real world and a lot of hot air about how the world should be. At home you can tick off the list of things that will be either repealed or reconfigured, including of course Obamacare, regardless of the harm it would do to millions who are now counting on getting affordable health insurance and coverage for pre-existing conditions. Other social welfare programs such as Medicare and Social Security would be up for sell-off to the highest bidder of late-night TV schemes, and all sorts of attempts to marginalize the LGBT community would bloom again. Planned Parenthood would be a memory like ACORN and the Interstate Commerce Commission. And there would be guns for sale from kiosks at the mall so the white guys who flunked the background check would have only a short walk to the cineplex to shoot it up.
If you think that sounds like a nightmare scenario of the worst things that could happen and that the sky is falling, just take a listen to the candidates out there. These are their talking points. Not everyone is going to make it through the primaries, and they only have to get down to one and a minion to make it onto the ballot in November 2016, but they’re all expecting to sell these planks to the platform in Cleveland next July. This is the way the Republicans are going. David Atkins at Political Animal wrote “[t]he GOP electorate isn’t choosing a potential president: they’re choosing a rebel leader. The Republican base doesn’t intend to go down compromising. They intend to go down fighting.”
So what happens if they do go down fighting, losing yet again another general election to the Democrats for the third time in row? Will they finally admit defeat, give up their losing battle to take their country back to 1953, and go quietly?
Not on your life. We all thought that there might be that chance after electing Barack Obama, but that didn’t even make it past Inauguration Day 2009, and if we elect Hillary Clinton as the next president, what we’ve seen in the Obama years will seem like a picnic in the park to the rage that will be fomented — and profited from — when it comes roaring out of the hills and valleys of the red states and the couch at Fox and Friends.
It’s going to be a wild rave for the next year and a half, but when it’s all over, who’s going to stick around to clean up after it?