This is the last chance Republicans will ever get

This is it, guys. Just eight years after running the country into the ground, you’ve been given the keys to the castle again. And even stronger than eight years ago. The Democratic Party hasn’t been this weak in 100 years. You control 33 states now, have bigger margins than GWB had in Congress, and now you have the White House. Great, right?

No. You also have a party that is mired in factionalism, has no idea how to govern, and has a leader who many prominent Republicans didn’t even vote for, and who were very public about not voting for him.

So get your shit together. Learn the lessons from Donald Trump’s victory that even he doesn’t understand. You won because working class whites are your actual voting base, not the big corporations, not even small government conservatives like me. This doesn’t mean that you shouldn’t pursue smaller government, or that you shouldn’t support free markets. But it does mean that the working class is what brung ya, and the working class is first in line. That means not rushing to cut food stamps first. It means cutting corporate welfare first. Balance the budget by cutting the rich people and corporations’ programs, then you can talk to the working class about entitlements.

Govern well, free of scandal, respecting the taxpayers’ money, and the voters will reward you, no matter how much demographics change. Their hearts may be with the Democrats, but their heads will be with stability and efficiency and not making big changes. But screw this up and it’ll all fall apart by 2020 and it’ll be the last time.

I know I make a lot of hay about you being wrong a lot, but I think you’ve offered a very cogent analysis and outlined some good actions that the GOP could take as examples of where to place their priorities.

I don’t think it’ll play out that way, tho.

With any other Republican - Kasich, Rubio, Cruz, etc. - the Republican president-elect could just ride the wave of economic recovery launched by Obama and take credit for it.
But Trump is a meddler, and he’ll probably reverse the Obama economic gains.

What Snowboarder Bo said. The GOP has been waiting for this moment since Reagan. It is going to be go-for-broke GOP extremism. I hope I’m wrong, I hope I wind up pleasantly surprised, but we all know who butters the bread of GOP congresscritters, and it ain’t white working class people. Did you Rip Van Winkle the last eight years?

I respect you for being a thoughtful conservative, adaher. But I don’t understand why people like you never grasp that “small government conservativism” is just window dressing for “the naked interests of the very wealthy.”

I liked your post overall, but I’m puzzled by this line:

What % of government spending do you imagine is “rich people and corporations’ programs”? What programs are you talking about?

The Ex-Im Bank, agricultural subsidies that primarily go to big companies like Monsanto, tax breaks for companies that really don’t incentivize much, like the oil tax breaks that Democrats attack effectively.

Most of the budget actually does go to the middle class and the poor, but the optics of budget cutting require that money spent on people who have their own money to spend get cut first. Cutting food stamps on day 1, which is what Republicans generally start out trying to do, is bad politics but also bad policy.

They also need to do tax cuts last, not first. You can’t tell working class white people to take a haircut on their future Social Security and Medicare tomorrow and unemployment relief today, and school lunch aid for their kids, while giving huge tax cuts to rich people. Tax cuts should be the reward for good budgeting, the dessert so to speak, not the appetizer.

As with anything, there are many different ways to go about small government. There are small mostly rural states with small government and few if any Fortune 500 companies pulling the strings. The people like their low taxes and they like to be left alone. It’s that type of small government conservatism that can appeal to a broad swathe of the electorate not the corporate small government that the Republicans have normally practiced.

Which states are you talking about?

Hillary’s biggest failure was not selling her ideas to exactly this group. I agree completely.

This is where we disagree.

It’s either cut the social programs that support the working class or cut military spending. Everything else is a drop in the bucket - there is no “smaller government” in fiscal terms without deep cuts to one, the other, or both.

“Smaller government” in terms of legislation means more '08 bang and bust economics, more Enron, or more “head cheese.” I haven’t asked, but I doubt most republicans are in favor of The Jungle style meat packing plants or a return to rolling brownouts due to “power shortages.”

Cutting corporate subsidies - even according to trickle down economics - makes production more expensive, and therefore less jobs. Hardly helpful to the working class whites…

This is the real problem I have with American politics. The left speaks to the elites about plans that would really help the working class. The right speaks to the working class about plans that would really help the elites. Of course the voters are going to listen to the people speaking to them. Unfortunately, you can never trust a salesman, and that’s exactly what a politician is.

I’m not so sure. I’d hope so, if the republicans drop the ball with all 3 branches of government under near total control, their political positions should be thoroughly disproven… but people have short memories, and people do not vote for truth, they vote for the better salesman.

Romney vs Obama? Obama had swagger, Romeny was kinda… eh. Same with McCain. Crotchety, not charismatic.

Bush vs Gore? People couldn’t stand “I invented the internet” Gore. Or Kerry for that matter. They didn’t want Baby Bush 2.0, they wanted not that guy.

So they can comfortably screw up as much and as often as they want. All they need is a good salesman to remind us not to trust our lying eyes and memories, trust their silken voice and milky words…

That’s the real lesson. The craptastic lesson. Policy is irrelevant. Truth is irrelevant. Sales. Sales. Sales.

States like Utah, Nebraska, the Dakotas, New Hampshire, even to some extent states like Texas and Florida, although being big states there is a lot more special interest wrangling in the legislature. But those states all have one thing in common: low taxes, low services, and the people don’t show much interest in changing that.

I wish I could believe you, but no matter how bad the Republicans screw things up, this country keeps voting them.

Well, there are a few ways we can do this. Let’s say that we can’t have smaller government, it’s just not politically possible. The people want their entitlements and they want their big military. What happens then? Well, the Republicans either raise the money to make that happen or the Democrats win. Forever. If that’s the political reality, then there’s no way for the GOP to succeed other than by becoming the Democrats and it’s already a foregone conclusion.

Another way this can go is “Coolidge/Eisenhower conservatism”. Rather than seeking cuts in government we just control the growth so that government grows slower than the economy, and tax cuts, sometimes yearly tax cuts, are the reward for such fiscal control.

A more extreme version of conservatism that can work if Republicans act out of principle, is “cut cut cut”, but start out cutting the programs that don’t help the working class, even though they are small, and then go to the working class and saying that we need to cut more to preserve our country’s fiscal future. The only reason this has a chance to work is because the deficit picture due to entitlements is really that grim. And it will have to include military cuts.

Or the Republicans could stay true to form, cut taxes, cut spending only a tiny bit(mainly at the expense of the poor), and create a big fat boom/bust cycle.

The problem with the left in this particular time in our history is that they talk in terms of taking away the white working class’s jobs(shut down the coal mines and oil rigs! More imports of manufactured goods! More cheap labor entering the country!), and then think that promising to “take care of” the displaced workers in some sense is supposed to make them happy. The only plausible way to “take care of” uneducated workers whose good jobs are gone is welfare. Some can be retrained, but the idea of retraining masses of people in large regions was never practical.

I don’t know that memories are short so much as when a party does poorly the other party gets a chance, and if they do poorly, then it switches back. The Democrats had an opportunity and they failed. No, it wasn’t as miserable a failure as the GOP from 2001-2006, but what Democrats did when they took power in 2009 was not at all what the public wanted. That’s something that few liberals are yet willing to admit to themselves. Wave elections don’t happen because you did a great job. A governing majority cannot be maintained with poor minorities and rich environmentalists and catering mainly to their interests, yet when you look at what Democrats’ top three priorities were(climate change, immigration, health care), there’s not much there for the working class. Those are issues that primarily benefit the non-working poor and rich people who want to preserve their beachfront homes.

The working class doesn’t care about health care? Nonsense. The working class has more medical problems than the middle class. And there are huge numbers of jobs which don’t have health insurance.

adaher answered that charge; I helpfully bolded the important part:

Nobody wanted health insurance; they wanted health care. I just posted this in another thread:

The “It’s okay if you don’t feel like paying any taxes, we understand” programs, I assume.

To be clear, the working class didn’t need a program to guarantee them health insurance they already had. If you look at the ranks of the uninsured, it’s primarily the non-working class, people who are healthy and don’t want it, and people who have to change jobs a lot. The latter group is the only one I’d consider that really wanted ACA and was in the working class.

What Snowboarder said also made a lot of sense. Some people needed insurance who didn’t have it, true, but most people just wanted it to cost less and not be able to screw them. The insurance reforms helped with the latter, to be sure, but what most people SAW was that their payroll deductions for health insurance got bigger to cover the improved coverage.

I hope you’re right; not so much about this being their last chance, just that Republicans be fairly judged on what does, or doesn’t, happen as a result of their governance. I fear Zero-syde’s prediction, though. The Republican base is already so divorced from reality that I’m not sure there will be an honest appraisal of what they do. Trump could double the debt, trade the John Deere company to China for a fortune cookie recipe, lose North Dakota to Putin in a poker game, but if he came on TV in four years and said “everything’s gonna be great, believe me” I think a lot of people would still vote for him.

Republicans have been running up the debt for 35 years and their voters have stuck by them. What makes you think the next 4 years are their last chance to do something about it?

I don’t worry about that though because it’s not like Republicans or Democrats ever win by huge margins. If Republicans don’t do well, sure, tens of millions will vote for them anyway, but the part of their base that is not particularly loyal or immune to facts will defect or stay home and they’ll lose. 2020 will be an epic bitchslapping if things go as badly as many Democrats predict.

The reason I say it will be the last chance is that if Republicans don’t broaden their appeal by being the better governing party, demographic change will make getting another chance nearly impossible. I don’t think the part of the electorate that actually decides elections is very ideological. I don’t even think a lot of loyal Democrats and Republicans are ideological. Ideological partisans are like libertarians, numerous on discussion boards, rare in real life. A party that doesn’t offend everyone in sight, doesn’t have scandals, and presides over decent job growth need never fear being turned out of office.

Well, he might also have to say once or twice that his opponent is going to grab all of America’s guns.

Don’t support gun control. At all. Easy fix. Democrats had the gun issue neutralized until recently.