I do not understand this whole line of thought in the last few months that the Trump phenomenon is the end of the Republican Party. Michael Cohen writes an obituary for the GOP:
At one point, the Republican Party nominally stood on a platform of economic and social conservatism. At least that was the public face of the party. Today, with Trump at its helm, it’s a party of nativism, xenophobia, crudeness, and misogyny. Those elements were of course always present in the party — and are at the root of its modern political success. But they were generally hidden below the surface or utilized with dog whistles. With Trump, there is no mistaking the fact that what drives GOP voters is not conservative dogma, but rather resentment, anxiety, and fear, particularly of minorities, Muslims, and immigrants.
That post-2012 Republican Party autopsy that said the GOP must reach out to Hispanic voters if it wanted to win a national election again is dead and buried. Quite simply, the Republican Party cannot win national elections if it doesn’t find a way to broaden the party’s appeal. With Trump as the presidential nominee, that effort will be set back, perhaps a generation or more.
Even more searing than the electoral challenges, Trump has delivered a savage blow to the GOP’s conception of itself. Armed with a mere handful of endorsements from elected GOP officials, Trump has run a campaign aimed directly against the Republican establishment. And he beat the stuffing out of it. And by taking positions on everything from taxes and trade to transgender Americans and terrorism that run directly against decades of conservative orthodoxy, he’s left the Republican establishment with no clear ideological mooring. Is the GOP a party of small government conservatism or a party of nativism and white male resentment? For decades, Republicans tried to be both, and Trump has, with a single presidential campaign, exposed the fallacy that lay at the heart of the party — namely that its voters were only interested in conservative dogma insofar as it was married to those aforementioned feelings of resentment, anxiety, and fear. But when given a choice between dogma and dog whistle, they’ve chosen this year – overwhelmingly – to go with the latter.
I think there are two ways these obituaries go. Cohen more specifically talks about the short and medium-term electoral issues. While it’s very hard to see Trump winning, the Republicans will still control the House and many statehouses. They’ve baked their advantages into the cake that the GOP really isn’t “dead” electorally even in the short term outside of the White House. Even if they lose the Senate in 2016, they may well win it back in 2018. Others seem to go farther and really think the GOP is dying as a political party and a major realignment is happening. Here I am highly skeptical. At most, the GOP is “dead” in the same way that the Republicans were in 1964 or the Democratic Party was in 1988, which means not at all. For me, all that has really happened is that the base voter for the GOP has thrown off the elites. They don’t really care about corporate tax breaks. They care about their own white nationalist resentments and figured out that they don’t need Mitt Romney or another GOP elite to give it to him. They can choose their own daddies.
There are several others examples of these sorts of essays. Here’s Robert Reich’s version. Here’s Zack Blumenfeld in Paste. There are many others. None of them make much sense. All of them suffer from short-term prognostication about the current presidential race. The GOP is going nowhere.