A Crazy Idea To Save the Republican Party

George Will, the longtime Conservative pundit, has left the Republican Party because of Donald Trump, and I understand he’s urging others to do so as well. That last bit is good segue to a crazy idea I’ve been thinking about that would save the Republican Party. In a nutshell, here’s what it is: Republicans leave the party and form a new one–leaving Trump under the Republican Party name.

In one quick move, several good things can happen:

1. Trump is dumped and everything he stands for–which allows Republicans to maintain respectability, while also preventing Trump from winning the election. (The new party won’t have a nominee, or probably won’t win, but that should be an acceptable short term loss, especially given other alternatives.) If this is executed well, perhaps the departing Republicans can also sever any ties and associations with racism, sexism and xenophobia that have been associated with the party. It’s a clean break from not only Trump, but aspects of your party you need to abandon to be a viable party in the future;

2. The party can start fresh, something that probably would have had to have happened anyway. The new party will have a clean slate to build a policy platform that can be successful–one that will appeal to women and minorities.

Now, I was talking to someone about this, and he said, “But the new party will just be the Republican party, except with a new name.” My response: exactly! That’s the cool thing about it. All the Republicans abandon ship–letting Trump and the Republican name (and any other bad associations they can dump on them) sink, never to appear again (hopefully). Now, the Republicans can retool and remake the party. It’s basically a re-branding maneuver.

What will the new Republican party be like? I’m guessing that the Republicans that jump ship will be fiscal conservatives, those who fight for the wealthy and business classes. I’m not sure what kind of policies they could create that would help. Maybe if the make immigration reform a key part of their platform, as well as emphasize education, lowering college and healthcare costs. I’m not sure if that could work, though.

23 Responses to “A Crazy Idea To Save the Republican Party”

  1. Reid

    With Trump’s recent intimations that he may not support John McCain or Paul Ryan in their re-election bids, it’s clearer to me that Trump doesn’t care about the GOP. When people say Trump’s not a politician, they’re right. And in this context, what that means is that he’s not a Republican, and he doesn’t care about the Republican party. This may not be so bad if Trump’s effects on the party were benign, but it seems clear that’s not the case. Indeed, I would say Trump poses a serious, if not existential threat, to the GOP.

    If this is true, then this crazy idea of abandoning the Republican party and forming a new one seems less crazy. Let’s look at this by looking at the two possible outcomes:

    Outcome #1: Trump Wins in November

    I feel like this might be the worst outcome for the party because I feel Trump’s presidency will be catastrophically bad. The party and the people who supported him will be forever tainted with this. The result is that the party will be in shambles, massive rebuilding will have to occur.

    Outcome #2: Trump Loses in November

    This would be bad for the Republicans as well. I used to think that if Trump has a resounding loss, that’ll be the end of his presence on the political stage, but with his talk of a “rigged election,” I suspect he won’t just disappear that easily. That would be a bad situation for the GOP. Not only would they have to re-build their party, but Trump’s presence would make this really difficult.

    OK, so let’s assume those two outcomes are really bad for the party. Would abandoning the party to start a new one now be better? A part me of me thinks it would be. Let’s look at it:

    Outcome #3: Leave Trump and the Republican Party, and Form a New One

    Since the Republicans will have to do a lot of soul-searching and rehabilitation of the party no matter what–why not do it in a way that can be justified and seen as honorable? GOP leaders can make a strong claim that Trump isn’t a Republican. He’s captured the party–but his position and candidacy is fundamentally at odds with the GOP. Therefore, leaving the party to form a “new” one is justified. I gave the benefits of this in the initial post, and I won’t repeat them here. I will add that the move can also be seen as honorable, given how reprehensible and dangerous Trump is to the country. The Republicans who leave can justifiably claim to have put the country ahead of the party.

    Trump has causes seismic disruptions in the party and put the party and its leaders in a bad situation. However, I also think this presents an opportunity for them to make a dramatic changes to the party that they might have to make to be competitive. Making these changes in outcomes #1 or #2 are going to be very difficult, maybe more difficult than if the form a new party now.

    Having said all this, there are drawbacks. Trump will no doubt see this as a huge betrayal, to Trump and his ardent supporters. He will almost definitely make a big stink about this, riling up his supporters. What will be effect of that upon the country or even to the attempt to build a new party? It’ll probably be very messy on both counts. But I suspect the same would be true for outcomes #1 and #2. Indeed, in either case, if things go wrong for Trump, Trump will almost certainly blame someone besides himself, and there’s a decent chance he’ll blame the GOP.

    Bottom line: there isn’t any outcome that won’t be challenging and problematic for the party–at least I can’t imagine one that’s not. Also, all the outcomes are going to require significant adjustments to the party, especially for its long-term viability. I don’t know if #3 is the best option for Republicans, but I no longer think it’s so crazy.

  2. Reid

    A few notes.

    My thoughts haven’t changed on this. I think the GOP is finished–and if they’re not, they’ll morph into an illiberal, authoritarian party, and the American experiment will be dead. If the American experiment survives, the Republican party will be dead.

    For this reason, I think it’s even more clear that smart, patriotic Republicans and conservatives should start forming a new party. This could not only help protect and preserve the Republic, but it will help build and establish a legitimate conservative party a lot sooner–which is obviously good for conservatives, but also good for the country at large. Granted, this approach will take a lot of courage and there are risks (in terms of political careers), but if you take the long view and a patriotic one, I think this move is the right one for conservatives.

    My sense is that Evan McMullin, the independent candidate in the past election, is following this playbook. If the GOP crashes in spectacular fashion, he’s putting himself in a great position to be the leader of the new conservative party. I just wish other prominent conservatives and Republicans would join him.

  3. Reid

    McMullin is taking the first step. He recently started a non-profit group, Stand Up Republic. My sense is that he’s trying to start a movement, that could possibly morph into a new party–either conservative or even centrist. The movement is based on the premise that the Constitution is under threat, from the Trump administration, and by creating “Stand Up Republic,” McMullin is trying to organize a way to defend the Constitution and our democracy. (I applaud this move.)

    To me, it’s almost a certainty that the Trump administration will be a disaster. Like the post-Nixon administration, I think the country will be looking someone the opposite of Trump–someone honest, ethical, someone who respects democracy and our Constitution (someone kinda boring, really.), and my sense is that McMullin is positioning himself that way.

    I should say that McMullin might not be starting this movement with future political ambitions in mind. He could be doing this right now because it’s the right thing to do–it’s something the country needs. Of course, this motivation and more ambitious political one aren’t mutually exclusive, either. Basically, he could be taking one step at a time.

  4. Reid

    The Republican Fausts by David Brooks in the Times. If I recall (I read this in the morning), Brooks talks about the issue as if it just happened, whereas I think what he’s talking about happened months ago.

  5. Reid

    Another Reason We Need a New Conservative Party

    Not only have most of the Republicans lost their principles, but they have very little ideas. Here’s one of the things you have left:

  6. Reid

    One Way the Current Congressional Republicans (Who Have Supported Trump or Turned a Blind Eye) Can Save Themselves and the Party

    Answer: They turn against Trump, stop him from doing real damage before it’s too late. If they do this, it’s conceivable–probably likely–that everything that they’ve done up to that point will be forgiven and forgotten. (I could be wrong, though; I’m sure the Democrats will try to not let voters forget.)

    Overall, I’m be relieved and content if the Republicans do this, although a part of me would be annoyed. Indeed, if Trump really puts in bad policies and runs the government incompetently, and he’s removed–if Mike Pence can come in and return things to normal, undo bad policies and run the government competently, that could be a huge boon for him and the GOP. It’ll probably propel Pence into a second term.

    As annoying as that would be to me–if it means preserving our form of government and our country (and the world), I’ll take it.

    Edit (2/25/2017)


  7. Reid

    Here’s What a True Republican and Patriot Looks and Sounds Like

    (The background music is annoying, but ignore it.)

    Senator Sasse is the type of Republican I wish would start a new conservative party.

  8. Reid

    Where Are the Good Republicans?

    From conversations the Niskanen Center has had on Capitol Hill, Taylor believes there are somewhere between 50 and 100 Republican congressmen “who have convinced themselves that Donald Trump is worth embracing and have little concern about that partnership.” The rest, he says, “are in various degrees of shock, horror, and disgust at what’s going on in this administration. But none of them want to be decapitated by a primary challenge. Nobody wants the social media fanaticism of the alt-right turned on them.”

    Those Republicans that are in shock and horror have to act–the sooner the better in my view. To not act is to really take a big chance that Trump won’t do something catastrophic, or that something like a terrorist attack may happen, and no one will able to stop Trump from consolidating power.

    It’s easy for me to say this because my career isn’t on the line. But let me say several things about this:

    1. Vocaling opposing Trump is not only the right thing to do, on principle, but it’s the right thing to do for the country.

    2. These Republicans that stand against Trump may lose in the upcoming primary, but if the Trump presidency is as disastrous as I think it will be, then those that stand against Trump might be given a second chance at politics at some point in the future. On the other hand, those who are sticking by Trump will be finished in the long run. (And, as I’ve opined, if the Republicans don’t start standing up against Trump soon, I think they’re whole party is finished.)

    To flesh this out a bit more, I see a civil war within the Republican party as inevitable–at least for the long-term viability of their party or maybe even conservatism. Many Republicans are just supporting Trump for expediency–they’re selling their souls and the country for him. Conservatives need to oppose that and stand out. Yeah, that’ll be messy for the conservative party in the present–including some political losses–but in the long run the true conservatives and patriots will come out standing. (And if they don’t, that will likely mean we’ve lost the republic.) Principled and patriotic Republicans have to be willing to lose a battle to eventually be able to win the war. This is a profiles in courage moment.

  9. Reid

    More Evidence the GOP Is Not a Healthy Party

    From the New York Times: If Liberals Hate it Then Trump Must Be Doing Something Right by Charlie Sykes

    and from The National Review, something similar: Democratic Hypocrisy, Hysteria Don’t Make Trump Right by David French

    Edit (5/15/2017)

    From Max Boot: When Will Republicans Stand Up to Trump?


    I never heard of Paul Miller before, but presumably he’s a conservative (Never Trumper). In any event, he’s saying essentially the same thing as Sykes. I agree with both.

    Edit From the New York Times: The Right Builds Alternative Narrative Around Trump

    Edit (5/17/2017)

    From The Business Insider: Donald Trump Broke the Conservative Media (I didn’t read this yet, but I want to read this later.)

  10. Reid

    From the
    The Daily Beast:

    Conservatives who are viscerally turned off by the Trump cult of personality prize things like the rule of law and balance of powers. Part of what this means is that the idea of a ruling class repels us. We believe the maxim that absolute power corrupts absolutely, and we instead celebrate the system and institutions that check the accumulation of power. We see dissent as patriotic. We see the messianic impulse of some Americans as a very dangerous tendency. We believe that it’s not healthy to put politicians on a pedestal. We believe you should respect your leaders and pray for them—but not to them.

    I know there are writers that fit this description, but where the heck are the Congressional conservatives that fit this description?!

    Edit (5/31/2017)

    E.J. Dionne discusses neo-moderates–I think they’re the ones that could lead conservatives to a new party.

  11. Reid

    WaPo op-ed: The Single Largest Act of Political Bravery in the Trump Era by Michael Gerson.

    This is about Senator Jeff Flake. He has a book out, one that is critical of Trump. He’s the type of Congressional Republican we need–at least, he saying things that most other Congressional Republicans know are true, but are too afraid to say publicly. I understand Flake is now polling at 18% in Arizona. I don’t know if “single largest act of political courage” is apt, but he’s has courage and convictions. I really admire and respect that. We need more politicians like this.

  12. Reid

    It might already be too late.

    (Actually, if they really turn hard on him now–including impeaching him–they have a chance.)

  13. Reid

    From WaPo: Roy Moore’s Victory and Bob Corker’s Retirement Are Fresh Indicators of a Senate That is Coming Apart

    A thought: if guys like Bob Corker and Charlie Dent are retiring partly or mainly because they think their party is too extreme, and if Jeff Flake (and possibly Ben Sasse) will be challenged by a more extreme candidate, what if those individuals just break away from the GOP and start a new conservative party? They might not win, and it would be the start of a civil war, but the latter has already occurred–or the moderates (or real conservatives) are basically selling out to the extremes in their party. In my eyes, unless they do something dramatic at some point, they’re tarnished beyond redemption (or close to it).

    If they openly fight now, underscoring a civil war for the soul of the conservative party, the lay the groundwork for the conservative party in the future. Trump and his followers aren’t really conservative in my view–they’re more ethno-nationalists, and Trump himself is incompetent, corrupt, shameless and maybe mentally ill–so much of what true conservatives oppose. Why not make that clear, draw the battle lines out in the open? If they do this the right way, they may lose the battle, but they create a position to win the war.

    By the way, a conservative civil war will likely hurt Republicans, and hurt Trump in the short term (assuming enough of these principled and patriotic Republicans join with Democrats to oppose Trump), but that–protecting the country from Trump–is a good thing. Those Republicans who are apart of this effort will build credibility for a new, viable conservative party.

  14. Mitchell

    Yeah, but that’s not really saving the party. I predicted a split in the party a year or so ago, and short-term it would mean basically turning the White House over to the Democrats for the near future, but longer term, it could result in three viable parties, especially if the new conservative party were centrist enough to take conservative Democrats with them. It’s not a bad idea, really, except that three viable parties is a step toward possibly getting even less done in Congress than we’re seeing now.

    I think accusing the incumbent of not being conservative is being misled. It’s how he got into office, and it’s who his base is, but his practices are absolutely, deeply conservative, especially his appointments and his rolling back of regulations wherever he’s allowed. He may be socially ethno-nationalist (did you coin that? It’s not bad) but he’s economically super conservative.

  15. Reid

    I should be more precise. What I’m saying may not save the Republican party, but that’s less important than preserving or creating a viable and legitimate conservative party–i.e., a party that genuinely based on conservative principles and values.

    If conservatives don’t break away from the party now, and the Trump presidency ends in disaster, I feel like the Republican party will die (as it would deserve this). What happens to conservatism then? The concept will face a tough road ahead. What I’m saying is that a break from Trump and his followers now can avoid that; it can put the conservatism on a much better path. The path will be hard, but the alternative seems way, way harder.

    Also, in one way, this is a tremendous opportunity for conservatives. They’ve had the carry the baggage of racism for a long time. This is chance to jettison that in a relatively clean and final way. If they do this right they can reposition themselves and their policies to gain an advantage over Democrats.

    By the way, if this happens, there may be three parties, but I don’t think that will last long. If the Republicans that split from Trump do so primarily on the basis of rejecting white nationalism, populism, and authoritarianism, I would think more conservatives/Republicans would follow, and those remaining would be a relatively small group. I can’t be sure of that, though. You think the remaining group would be large and would be able to sustain that support?

    I think much of this depends on what the breakaway party looks like.

    … but his practices are absolutely, deeply conservative, especially his appointments and his rolling back of regulations wherever he’s allowed. He may be socially ethno-nationalist (did you coin that? It’s not bad) but he’s economically super conservative.

    Two things:

    1. His character and his authoritarian stance, particularly with regard to the rule of law and separation of powers, strike me as the opposite of conservative values and principles. Am I off base here?

    2. When it comes to policy and political ideology, I think Trump is largely a blank slate. I don’t think he has any real understanding or convictions in political ideology or economic principles. Whatever he has done that is traditionally conservative, I attribute to the establishment Republicans.

    If there’s any ideology that Trump may have genuine convictions about, I’d say it was ethno-nationalism (No, I didn’t coin that), or white nationalism. A part of me feels like this is largely a product of Steve Bannon’s influence, but there are indicators of racism that occur before Bannon.

  16. Mitchell

    You think the remaining group would be large and would be able to sustain that support?

    I no longer have beliefs about this. I’ve been proven wrong on it too many times. I don’t know.

  17. Reid

    I don’t blame you for feeling that way. Given Trump’s victory, I second guess myself as well.

    But my guess is that if the breakaway Republicans separate themselves because they strongly object to Trump’s ethno-nationalism/racism, authoritarianism, and his shamelessness, unethical behavior, and mental instability and immaturity, I would think this will force conservatives into a choice. They can follow the Republicans who are leaving Trump for similar reasons or they can stick with Trump, knowing that they’re accepting what other conservatives have rejected.

    What’s powerful about this move is that Trump and his supporters will have a tougher time saying this is fake news or some liberal conspiracy against Trump. Trump will probably try to make this argument anyway, but it will be harder for conservatives to dismiss the Republicans that are leaving (depending on how many leave).

    Whether the exodus has this result or not, I see the move as patriotic act, at least partly, and I will think favorably of the Republicans that do this.

  18. Reid

    This op-ed is interesting because it deals with Mike Pence’s Chief of Staff, Nick Ayers, who suggests that Republicans ousting Republicans who fully support Trump’s agenda. In other words, the pro-Trump wing attempting to remove the anti-Trump wing from the GOP.

    Jennifer Rubin, the auhtor of the piece, has this to say at the end:

    So maybe in a way Ayers is right. All the sane Republicans should exit, leaving the GOP as a distilled pool of toxic political waste. Let the party of Lincoln become the party of Moore, while Collins happily returns to run for governor of Maine, Kasich and others carve out a new space in 2020 and a new cast of center-right leaders (e.g., Evan McMullin) build a new party from the ground up. Yes, Democrats will win some elections before a new center-right party takes hold, but that’s the price Republicans will pay for having turned their party over to an authoritarian creep.

  19. Reid

    From WaPo op-ed by Robert Kagan.

    I’m with him here:

    Should we have rooted for Republican leaders to fight back? Sure. And we did. The party would be worth saving if it contained even a dozen women and men of courage. But of course if it did contain such people, it wouldn’t need saving. Today the definition of a brave Republican is someone who is not running for reelection. So rooting for them is no longer an answer. The best thing for the country may be to let the party go. Let it become the party of Trump and Bannon, and as fast as possible. Let the 35 percent of the country who believe Trump is a suitable president, or who hate Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama so much that they would elect Mussolini to the White House, have their party.

    I disagree slightly with what he says next:

    The rest of Republican voters should leave the party until it earns back the right to their support. They should change their registration and start voting for Democratic moderates and centrists, as some Republicans did in Virginia recently, to give them a leg up in their fight against the party’s left wing. A third party of “good Republicans” is a fantasy. This is a two-party country. To defeat one, you have to support the other, either directly or indirectly. Right now the country’s best hope is for a moderate Democratic Party that speaks for that sizable majority of Americans who recognize the peril of seven more years of Trump in the White House. Bannon is doing his part to make that happen. It’s time for Republican voters who care about this country to do theirs.

    I agree with that a third party won’t win many seats, but that’s not the objective. The objective is to fight for the soul of conservative party, and to lay a foundation for that (new) party. In the process, this will likely have the same effect as voting for Democrats, as it will weaken those who remain in the party. And if not, then these new conservatives can vote for Democrats when they need to.

    A part of me feels it’s important to for conservatives to fight for what they believe in now–like what Evan McMullin is doing. Switching over to the Democrats, temporarily, isn’t enough to me. What has been devastating in my view is that so many Republicans have kow-towed to Trump and basically lost their integrity and in the process lost their legitimacy as conservative (American?) politicians.

  20. Reid

    Republicans Letting These Type of Comments and Actions Go Without Hard Pushback is What Has Damaged Our Country and the GOP

    The suggestion that the press or a citizen, for that matter, can’t challenge an assertion made by a general or any politician deeply offends my sensibilities as an American. Republicans should push back hard against this.

    Now, I know this is one tiny instance, and in the grand scheme of things it’s relatively minor. However, all of these sort of things—when you don’t push back–they add up. It’s a slippery slope degrading our ideals and values–and the integrity and legitimacy of the GOP as an American political party.

    Or consider the recent news that Trump is interviewing candidates for attorney generals in districts where Trump and his business could be prosecuted.

    “To be very blunt, these three jurisdictions will have authority to bring indictments over the ongoing special counsel investigation into Trump campaign collusion with the Russians and potential obstruction of justice by the president of the United States,” Sen. Richard Blumenthal (D-Conn.) said in an interview Thursday. “For him to be interviewing candidates for that prosecutor who may in turn consider whether to bring indictments involving him and his administration seems to smack of political interference.”

    Based on what I’ve read, Presidents don’t do this, and given that fact this seems like a blatant and brazen way for Trump to interfere with the criminal justice system to protect himself and his businesses. (Remember, he also was outraged that Sessions recused himself, saying he would never have picked Sessions as his AG if he knew this, saying this is “unfair.”)

    You have to stand up and oppose this sort of thing–and there are many, many other things like this. I don’t understand how Republicans can stand by–how they can’t just leave the party–not without losing their integrity in the process. They have to fight for that and for conservatism and American values and ideals. Trump is already waging a war against conservatism and American values.

    Republicans need to ask themselves a series of questions: Are they for authoritarianism or the rule of law and Constitution? Are they for pluralistic society or white nationalism? Are they for free markets or populist economics? Are they for rules-based international order or isolationism? Trump is really pushing the party and the country toward authoritarianism/autocracy, white-nationalism and isolationism. Does that represent the GOP? If not, they can’t silently sit by.

  21. Reid

    Right–the GOP is moving towards white nationalism, authoritarianism, populist protectionism and demagoguery. But now I think conservatives like Flake should publicly oppose what’s going on and fight for conservatism in America. Conservatism isn’t any of those things, but when Republicans don’t stand up and publicly oppose them, it signals that conservatism accepts those ideas. That is bad for conservatism and bad for the country.


    Here’s Senator Flake announcing he won’t run for office again. It’s a good speech. I hope he speaks out more–and hope others who are planning to stay in office speak out as well.

    The people below are the type of individuals the (true) conservatives have to openly oppose and fight against. They’re fighting against true conservative and American ideals, in my view, so the more moderate group has to stand up and fight against them.

    Here’s a video of the speech:

  22. Reid

    You Can Already See the Schism in the GOP If You Look

    We may not be at a point where there is a true schism, but the writing in on the wall in my view. Flake’s speech and op-ed as well as Corker’s remarks underscore this. But there are even smaller comments like the following:

    Republicans who disagree with Inhofe should publicly and strongly oppose him, signaling their position. This is the winning long-term position in my view. Those that want to turn the GOP into a ethno-nationalist, authoritarian party are placing themselves on a losing side–especially in the long run. And if this isn’t true, it means America will cease being America.

  23. Reid

    Reasons Why We Need a New Conservative Party

    (Read the entire thread)

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