Daily we read of the GOP's imminent crackup, its looming civil war, its potential unraveling in factional bloodbaths. These downward metamorphoses are projected to reel off in the near post-election season, as President-elect Clinton assembles an administration confronting a solid congressional opposition defined only by fractures and incoherence. So say political projections, which can be dicey things. But not this one — for this one is in the rearview mirror.
As the Post's Greg Sargent notes in "The GOP civil war is coming," we already possess statistical evidence that "Republicanism" — once the ideology of middle-class cloth coats and store-minding prudence — is now the political equivalent of clinical, paranoid schizophrenia. The figures that Sargent cites would be breathtaking if Bedlam hadn't opened its doors for public inspection long ago. "A recent Bloomberg poll found that 51 percent of Republicans and GOP-leaners say Trump better represents their view of what the GOP should stand for" than does the Republican speaker of the House, the party's once and future "leader." To God, country, and mothers everywhere, this finding would be happy news if the GOP rank and file's preference weren't 51 times loopier than Ayn Rand.
"Meanwhile," continues Sargent, "another poll shows that two thirds of Republicans think voter fraud is a bigger problem than voter disenfranchisement is — meaning they’ll be open to Trump’s argument that the election was stolen from them." Two thirds, two thirds of Republicans either genuinely believe this unhinged slop or, worse, are so genuinely dishonorable as to fake it. On such dishonor is tomorrow's virtuous conservatism to be founded.
Over at Heritage Action, its chief executive, Michael Needham, tells the NY Times that "If the party doesn’t learn lessons and change based on what’s gone on for the last year and a half, I think it’s going to be just catastrophe." On its face, that's an eminently rational observation; the last year and a half of Trumpism has been a chronological roadmap to GOP catastrophe. That, however, is not what Needham meant. What he meant was that Trumpism — about to max out, electorally, in the high 30s — is the GOP's healthiest, most rational future.
Elsewhere, the chairman of the House Oversight Committee, Jason Chaffetz, is preparing for years of Clinton investigations. If, from the bully pulpit, the president plays her cards right, Chaffetz's Road Runner House could well be the greatest motivator for a historic Housecleaning in 2020, as well as Clinton's easy reelection. Endless email and Benghazilike investigations are not what an electorate anxious for "change" will have voted for. Assisting Chaffetz & Co. will be the Senate's Ted Cruz & Co.: "There is certainly long historical precedent for a Supreme Court with fewer justices." Any way one cuts it, as a national political strategy this is inarguably bonkers.
Finally (but not really), the GOP's Tea Partiers have achieved Full Walsh — that being the former United States Representative who declared on Twitter yesterday "that he will take up arms if Donald Trump is not elected to the presidency." One might be tempted to think that armed rebellion would be frowned on by the party of Lincoln — but these days, such is the last full measure of Republican devotion to madness.
Does any of this read as though the GOP's crackup is merely imminent, or that internal war looms, or that its factional unraveling is only one of potential? Even the Whigs weren't this obvious.