A Republican intellectual explains why
the Republican Party is going to die
CLEVELAND — Avik Roy is a Republican’s Republican. A health care wonk and editor at Forbes, he has worked for three Republican presidential hopefuls — Mitt Romney, Rick Perry, and Marco Rubio. Much of his adult life has been dedicated to advancing the Republican Party and conservative ideals.So what does this mean for the future of the GOP? Read the whole thing. It has embedded links and video to back up what it's saying. I've heard portions of this argument over the years, but the author here has done his homework and tied the facts together nicely. The way he ended the article speaks especially well to what we are looking at today. Sad, but true.
But when I caught up with Roy at a bar just outside the Republican convention, he said something I’ve never heard from an establishment conservative before: The Grand Old Party is going to die.
“I don’t think the Republican Party and the conservative movement are capable of reforming themselves in an incremental and gradual way,” he said. “There’s going to be a disruption.”
Roy isn’t happy about this: He believes it means the Democrats will dominate national American politics for some time. But he also believes the Republican Party has lost its right to govern, because it is driven by white nationalism rather than a true commitment to equality for all Americans.
His history of conservatism was a Greek tragedy. It begins with a fatal error in 1964, survived on the willful self-delusion of people like Roy himself, and ended with Donald Trump.
“I think the conservative movement is fundamentally broken,” Roy tells me. “Trump is not a random act. This election is not a random act.”
Goldwater opposed the Civil Rights Act of 1964. He himself was not especially racist — he believed it was wrong, on free market grounds, for the federal government to force private businesses to desegregate. But this “principled” stance identified the GOP with the pro-segregation camp in everyone’s eyes, while the Democrats under Lyndon Johnson became the champions of anti-racism.
This had a double effect, Roy says. First, it forced black voters out of the GOP. Second, it invited in white racists who had previously been Democrats. Even though many Republicans voted for the Civil Rights Act in Congress, the post-Goldwater party became the party of aggrieved whites.
“The fact is, today, the Republican coalition has inherited the people who opposed the Civil Rights Act of 1964 — the Southern Democrats who are now Republicans,” Roy says. “Conservatives and Republicans have not come to terms with that problem.”
“Conservative intellectuals, and conservative politicians, have been in kind of a bubble,” Roy says. “We’ve had this view that the voters were with us on conservatism — philosophical, economic conservatism. In reality, the gravitational center of the Republican Party is white nationalism.”
Conservative intellectuals, for the most part, are horrified by racism. When they talk about believing in individual rights and equality, they really mean it. Because the Republican Party is the vehicle through which their ideas can be implemented, they need to believe that the party isn’t racist.
So they deny the party’s racist history, that its post-1964 success was a direct result of attracting whites disillusioned by the Democrats’ embrace of civil rights. And they deny that to this day, Republican voters are driven more by white resentment than by a principled commitment to the free market and individual liberty.
“It’s the power of wishful thinking. None of us want to accept that opposition to civil rights is the legacy that we’ve inherited,” Roy says.
He expands on this idea: “It’s a common observation on the left, but it’s an observation that a lot of us on the right genuinely believed wasn’t true — which is that conservatism has become, and has been for some time, much more about white identity politics than it has been about conservative political philosophy. I think today, even now, a lot of conservatives have not come to terms with that problem.”
This, Roy believes, is where the conservative intellectual class went astray. By refusing to admit the truth about their own party, they were powerless to stop the forces that led to Donald Trump’s rise. They told themselves, over and over again, that Goldwater’s victory was a triumph.
But in reality, it created the conditions under which Trump could thrive. Trump’s politics of aggrieved white nationalism — labeling black people criminals, Latinos rapists, and Muslims terrorists — succeeded because the party’s voting base was made up of the people who once opposed civil rights.
“[Trump] tapped into something that was latent in the Republican Party and conservative movement — but a lot of people in the conservative movement didn’t notice,” Roy concludes, glumly. [...]