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Coming Apart

Let’s start with a simple premise: the Trump campaign is not about running for president. It is about product placement. With the eyes of the world on Great Britain as it voted on one of the most consequential matters in recent memory, Donald Trump positioned himself at one of his golf properties in Scotland, not to comment on Brexit but to … Read More

Where Things Stand: Summer Solstice Edition

Periodically I like to take a comparative look at the nomination process, and with summer here and the conventions still several weeks away this seems like a good time to take the temperature of the Democratic and Republican campaigns. Besides, I promised last Sunday that I would. Right now the campaigns are in a silent phase between the whirlwind primary season and the formal nomination … Read More

Five Excruciating Steps to Republican Renewal (long version)

For readers who requested this in one (very long) post, here is a lightly edited version of my recommendation for how the Republican Party might approach this election cycle. It’s hard to count the number of people who have asked me whether the Republican Party can survive this election. And while I have been tempted at times to draw comparisons to the … Read More

Step #5: Repudiate Trump

Here are some of the things Republican supporters have said about Donald Trump, courtesy of Talking Points Memo: “Well, look, I’m a Republican, I’m on the ballot in November. I support the Republican nominee for president. It’s pretty much that simple.” (OK Rep. Tom Cole) “Do I think that he will modify his positions or maybe explain them more completely? Yes, I … Read More

Step #4: Embrace the Wilderness

I have said elsewhere that radicalization of a portion of the Republican base has created a de facto reactionary party within the shell of what once was a center-right conservative party. The differences between reactionaries and conservatives are profound and explain why there is no common ground between them. Conservatives temperamentally and doctrinally seek to put the brakes on government. Reactionaries want to shut it down … Read More

Step #2: Follow Your Own Advice

The Republican Party has had remarkable success winning governorships, state legislatures, House and Senate seats. Yet they have been shut out of the White House for eight years and run a high risk of losing it again. Both of these outcomes can be traced to the same source: Republican base voters. Older white voters turn out, especially when they are angry or feeling threatened … Read More

Step #1: Choose Defeat Over Catastrophe

Last weekend, I promised that, once back in Philadelphia, I would offer some unconventional thoughts about how the Republican Party can survive the Trump phenomenon and position itself to compete with 21st century voters. My proposal cuts against the short-term thinking that drives the political process. It involves making five excruciatingly difficult choices that run counter to how parties are built to act, which is why I don’t … Read More

Five Excruciating Steps to Republican Renewal

It’s hard to count the number of people who have asked me whether the Republican Party can survive this election. And while I have been tempted at times to draw comparisons to the Whigs, today’s parties are highly institutionalized and decentralized. In many places the Republican brand is strong, and it’s hard to see the party being swept away even in the … Read More

Leaving Washington

I’m tired. I’ve now been in Washington for three weeks, where I have been engulfed by political myopia fed by a certain detachment from the rest of the country. Politics is Washington’s major industry, and like any company town it is infused with an insider’s sense of how things are done that can look quite different from how they appear on the outside. Normally at the … Read More


A garbage truck bearing the name “progressive” turns left as it exits Republican National Committee headquarters, June 2, 2016. No word on whether the Trump campaign was on board.    

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