Friday, October 14, 2016

The GOP is history. What about the country?

By Fareed Zakaria Opinion writer October 13 at 5:23 PM, WashPost

Politics is an enduring feature of human life, but political parties are mortal. This week we watched the beginning of the end of one of the United States’ great, illustrious parties. The Republican Party, as we knew it, is dying.

The death of a party is not so unusual. Scholars divide U.S. history according to six distinct party systems, each responding to a particular political era. Sometimes parties retain their names but morph ideologically, like the Democratic Party, which went from being Southern, pro-slavery and pro-Jim Crow to the opposite. On other occasions, parties collapse entirely, as did the Whig Party in the mid-19th century, torn apart by divisions over slavery. (In fact, in an interesting parallel, the fall of the Whigs was hastened by the rise of a party called the Know-Nothings, dedicated to stopping what was then seen as uncontrolled immigration.) Whatever the form of the Republican Party’s collapse, it will be messy.

Sunday’s debate may have been the watershed moment. As many commentators and some of his own strategists noted, it was pretty obvious what Donald Trump needed to do — apologize, be contrite, and then strike broad themes of change, bringing back jobs and putting the nation first. Ideally, he would have reached out to women — the group of voters he desperately needs to win the election.

Instead, Trump did the opposite. He minimized his behavior as “locker-room banter,” accused Bill Clinton of much worse and paraded the former president’s accusers at a news conference. Since then, things have spiraled downward. Trump’s strange, self-defeating strategy has led to speculation that his real ambitions lie beyond the election, when he may set up a conservative media network to rival Fox News.

(More here.)

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