No, The Republican Party Is Not Splitting In Two

Ezra Klein wrote a short piece today—after a week of Tr-mp receiving some undeserved praise for his embarrassing conduct at the United Nations—that simply points out what everyone in the pundit-dominated media should, but doesn’t, know:

It’s become a joke on politics Twitter that Trump’s pivot is always around the corner, that the media can’t stop announcing that this is the moment Trump finally became president. But there will be no pivot. There will be no moment Trump suddenly and permanently grows into the job.

Most of us know this, at least those of us who don’t play the game of pretending that Kelly or McMaster or Mattis can transform an ignorant and disturbed clown into a serviceable chief executive of the country. Not gonna happen. But the media game goes on.

Another media game going on right now is an attempt to separate the Republican “establishment” from the Tr-mp cult, which pundits universally call his “base.” While media commentators have long tried to divide the GOP into those who think Tr-mp is an Orange Jesus and those who are allegedly just tolerating the Apricot Anti-Christ for “agenda” purposes, the job began in earnest recently when Tr-mp made a “deal” with “Nancy” and “Chuck” over DACA—a deal not worth the paper it wasn’t written on. Today, NBC News, through its “First Read” publication (authored by Chuck Todd, Mark Murray, and Carrie Dann), kept the game going with this:

How Donald Trump Is Splitting the Republican Party in Two

The article began with a confident lede:

We now have data to prove that today’s Republican Party is split in two — between a Trump Party and your more traditional GOP.

My first reaction was: horseshit. We hear such talk all the time. We hear how there are really two GOPs. We hear talk of a Tr-mp versus Ryan-McConnell dynamic. We hear how Tr-mp despises those “establishment” leaders and how they don’t much like him either. Again: horseshit. Even if that were true, it doesn’t mean a damn thing. In politics, especially Republican politics dominated by white men, it doesn’t matter if you like the white guy you’re dealing with, so long as he will do your dealing. The real dynamic that means something in this drama is this: for Tr-mp, it is whether the GOP leaders in Congress can give him something—anything—he can sell to his rally cultists as a Big Win; for the GOP “establishment” it is whether Tr-mp will sign regressive legislation like gutting Medicaid and giving tax cuts to bazillionaires.

The truth in all this is that there really is very little practical difference between those who self-identify to pollsters as “Tr-mp supporters” and those who identify as “Party supporters.” The latest poll, upon which the article above was based, used the distinction:

This week’s NBC News/Wall Street Journal poll asked this question to Republican voters: Do you consider yourself to be more a supporter of Tr-mp or a supporter of the Republican Party? Fifty-eight percent of them answered Tr-mp, and 38 percent said the GOP.

The Tr-mp supporters are more likely to hail from rural areas and to be men, while Republican Party supporters are more likely to be women and residents of the suburbs. And the differences between them — on their views of GOP leaders, immigration and race — are fascinating.

Get that? First, almost six in ten Republican voters identify as Tr-mpers. Less than four in ten identify with the party itself. But let’s look at the “fascinating” results. Exactly how fascinating are they? Well, here’s the first result presented:

Approve of Tr-mp’s job performance
Tr-mp supporters: 99 percent

Party supporters: 84 percent

You tell me just how “fascinating” it is that almost all Tr-mp cultists support their cult leader? Who didn’t know that? But also tell me how fascinating it is, in terms of an alleged split in the party, that 84% of Image result for trump is the republican partysupposedly establishment “Party supporters” also support Tr-mp? That’s not much difference. Yet NBC pundits tried to make that a stunning difference, so much so that, remember, the title of this article was “How Donald Trump Is Splitting the Republican Party in Two.” Is a 99 and 84 Tr-mp approval rating result evidence of a split between the cultists and the establishment? Especially of a split in two? Huh? Of course not. But the evidence provided by their own poll was shaped to fit the narrative of the writers.

Although there are more significant differences between Tr-mp voters and GOP establishment types on some of the other issues, on the only issue that matters, whether Tr-mp is performing well, the two groups are almost in complete agreement. And so long as Republican leaders in Congress look at these polls showing such support—among all Republicans—for Tr-mp, they will be afraid to act against him—even if Robert Mueller, bless his heart, gets the goods on him. Again, fear of those who approve of Tr-mp is all that matters.

I know it is hard for some folks in the news business to admit it, but Tr-mp not only belongs to the Republican Party, what is more important is that the Republican Party, almost every bigoted square mile of it, belongs to him. When it comes to Donald the Dotard, there is no split.

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  1. What, I ask rhetorically, is the motivation of Tr;mp supporters, that they should embrace this deviant dotard? It appears to be an extended political tantrum.

    One might think that voters would see through his thin facade, his childish bombast, but the GOP pols are clever. Their latest repeal and replace healthcare bill is designed to reduce spending gradually, over a decade, and by that time most of them will be comfortably retired and raking in bucks as lobbyists. Voters have very short attention spans, it seems.


    • Jim,

      I know I overuse the word “cultist” to describe a significant number of Tr-mpers, but that’s because I can’t think of a better explanation for their behavior. I realize some folks embraced Tr-mp because they liked his rhetoric, his anti-PC rants that these people say among themselves when no “polite” people are listening. They like his willingness to say the things they wish politicians sympathetic to their prejudices would actually say out loud. I get all that.

      But by any measure, people (even those who overlooked his bombast and obvious ignorance) who thought Tr-mp  would help their economic problems, or people who thought he would “drain the swamp” or “blow up Washington” or use his alleged business acumen to “make better deals” for the American people, by now those people who still cling to Tr-mp should be reduced to zero. He has proven himself a narcissistic grifter who is in this for self-approval and enrichment. Thus, his approval numbers should be far less than the Gallup survey of around 37% approval—unless there are more “deplorables” than most of us wish to acknowledge. I suspect that there are, indeed, more deplorables than anyone calling themselves “American” wish there were. We can’t escape that now. It is just the state of American life these days.

      We, and by that I mean a too-slight majority of Americans who are appalled by what we have seen and are seeing, have to face the fact that our democracy has deteriorated and will continue to do so until someone, someone powerful, in the Republican Party has the guts to throw their electoral interests to the wind and call this stuff what it is. There are some signs of hope that the “system” is rejecting this cancer. But there is also appalling evidence that we could see this cancer metastasize beyond our ability to recover. 

      My biggest fear is that mainstream journalism will fail us yet again. Many reporters and pundits are too careful not to make judgments about the obvious. Our democracy, our last election, was hijacked by Russian thugs. And not enough “establishment” people are stepping up in outrage over that fact. If this continues, we are due for a repeat. And who knows how bad that will be. I am rooting for a reestablishment of norms. But I am not optimistic, only hopeful.


      Liked by 1 person

  2. ansonburlingame

     /  September 25, 2017

    Duane and Jim,

    You are touching on a subject that is far more fundamental than most have written about of late. I inject an issue that has nearly consumed me for over a month, now, the fundamental reasons ships are colliding all over WestPac and the evident bureaucratic bungling (Jim, you would be astounded) going on in current “investigations” of those incidents. My old “military buddies” are all over this one right now. They (and I) are in a rage, for sure.

    As part of that month long discussion with old friends and shipmates I was introduced to a great book. It is The Vanishing American Adult written by Senator Ben Sasse. Fundamentally, the book poses the question of how anyone can prepare a millennial to become a productive and self-sufficient adult, today. At least the question is asked. However the attempts to answer it are problematic. As I read the book however, the challenges facing that generation and the responses to it cover just about all the bases I have DIRECTLY observed in the efforts of my 11 grand children to navigate those shoal waters, all the way thru college but now faced with extreme difficulties as adults.

    I know full well how I was educated and trained to become an OOD (or any other job in both the Navy and as a civilian). By today’s standards that education and training was the most politically incorrect system ever devised by humans. As often stated, college was the “4 most miserable years of my life” and then the Rickover program confronted me.

    Subject just about any millennial today to that kind of rigor and the helicopter Moms and social media would demand immediate firing for anyone imposing such a system on their kids.

    My essential point related to recent Navy tragedies, costing $ Billions and killing (in their sleep for Christ’s sake) 17 sailors is this. For some 10 years now (or so) there have been a rash of reliefs for cause of commanding officers in the Navy for “bad command climate”, something I NEVER heard of in my day. Those reliefs for cause had nothing to do with seamanship, operating in crowded seas, at night, etc. They were all for lack of “social adjustments” demanded in the Navy, by politicians and willingly imposed by syncophantic senior leadership in the Navy.

    I am now calling for a different form of investigation into the Navy incidents. I propose that Jim Webb become the “Muller of the Navy” to investigate the “bad command climate” in the Navy that is the underlying cause of failure of the Navy to adhere to the “basics”. He should start at the top, the White House, work his way down through other civilian leaders in Congress and DOD and then into the top ranks of USN, the very top ranks.

    His results should produce a careful analysis of causes and effects of rudder orders from DC with the unintended consequences of inept professionalism in the officer corps and enlisted ranks of our Navy today. Won’t happen for sure, but it should!!



    • Anson,

      I don’t think there is anything older, culturally speaking, than the older generation, of whatever era you want to mention, worried about the younger folks coming up. I don’t put much confidence in today’s easy analysis that the youth simply aren’t prepared for the future. Blah, blah, blah. Somehow, the youth always turn into adults who, for the most part, find their way.

      Ben Sasse, who at times has been quite sensible about the Tr-mp phenomenon, is nevertheless part of the problem, as far as I’m concerned. I haven’t read his book, nor intend to, but I know the ground he tries to till. I’ve treaded upon it so many times before in my evangelical history. I think he means well. I think he is sincere in his devotion to his ideology and, uh, theology. And that’s my point about him. Even if Christopher Hitchens is a bit hyperbolic in his declaration that “Religion Poisons Everything,” there is no doubt that the fundamentalist type of religion to which Sasse seems to subscribe does poison pubic policy.

      Sasse is a brave warrior against the strawman he creates: the idea that young folks think “government” has all the answers to the world’s problems. Bullshit. Young people are quite cynical about the power of government to do much of anything. That’s the problem. Cynicism among the youth is dangerous, especially when they think government is gridlocked and powerless to do anything meaningful, like, say, fight climate change.

      If Democrats need to do anything different in the upcoming election cycle, it is to try to convince young folks that politics, which, like it or not, has fundamental influence on our future, is redeemable. And it is only redeemable if we can get, and keep, young people involved in the democratic process. Government doesn’t have all the answers, obviously. But government creates an environment where answers can emerge from the chaos of human thriving and thought.


      Liked by 1 person

    • Anson,

      I am not in communication with former shipmates as you are but it seems to me that the brass overreacted to this year’s two ship collisions. There are over 400 ships in the USN and two mishaps in a year are hardly a cluster. Both occurred in densely traveled shipping channels occupied by merchants that are often poorly manned, poorly maintained, and unpredictable in such choke points. That said, I can see how the brass needed to make a show of it for political reasons. I agree with Duane, to blame this on some kind of generational defect is a stretch too far.


  3. ansonburlingame

     /  September 26, 2017

    Duane and Jim,

    The last thing this world needs today is old men and women sitting in their pajamas (or dressed up like George Washington) telling everyone to “do it like I did it”. Believe you me I try to check myself on that point as I delve deeply into recent Navy goings on. As well to understand my concerns, fundamental concerns, trying to get at true root causes, you must really get into this mess. Through classmates I have been able to do so, a little bit at least, along with reading things like Naval Institute Proceedings, Navy and Military Times, columns from San Diego Tribune, etc.

    I certainly KNOW how I “did it”. But so what? But I also KNOW how my sons “did it” in a very different era than mine. And I SEE how my 11 grandkids are trying to “do it” today. I won’t write all the mistakes that have happened with grandkids, but some of them are really scary.

    Why is it, I wonder, that I have NEVER really worried about my kids since they entered college. Sure they had bumps in the road, but they overcame them on their own by and large and no help from Dad every really needed. Today I see grandkids that have trouble doing basic things and whine all the time about the situations they find themselves in today.

    Try one that had no idea what they wanted when entering college other than “party”. Then they change their majors 5 times, miss graduating with honors only because they blew off writing an Honor’s Thesis, add on an additional two semesters to graduate because they couldn’t make up their mind what to study, take a really lousy job, hate the job, quit it in 4 months then go unemployed for months now with no more jobs in sight. Next up, law school!!!!!

    Based on what I hear from parents (not grand parents) and read about frequently, I have no idea how to train and educate a millennial to become a happy, productive and self-sufficient member of society today in many, many cases. I also know full well that if I was on the bridge of a ship training an OOD today as I was so trained 50 years ago, I would be fired out of hand for lack of “social awareness” or some such defect.

    As for Sasse, Duane, I agree with you. He posed the correct question, “how does anyone….., today” but his proposed solutions are problematic, to me and you as well. But stating the question and providing good rational for doing so, well that in itself is a good contribution to society.


    Liked by 1 person

  4. Anson,

    Somehow I have a feeling your grandkid with law school in his or her sights is going to be okay in the end, no matter what happens. Some kids just need to fish in different streams before they catch something they want to keep.

    As far as training and educating any millenial “to become a happy, productive and self-sufficient member of society,” there’s no substitute for fostering a sense of responsibility (both personal and social), teaching critical thinking, and instilling the idea that if you are able to, you have to work hard for anything of value. You know, teach them to be a free-thinkng liberal!


    Liked by 1 person

  5. ansonburlingame

     /  September 26, 2017

    Ha! IF they were liberal they would be just fine, right! However, I might add that in the end it is character that counts. Part of “character”, and you know it as your son knows it, hard work is an absolute requirement. As a youngster that hard work must, as well, be very focused on the job at hand and not become distracted with every problem seen in the world. Kids today find it really easy to go a mile wide and an inch deep, it seems to me.

    I find it impossible to have a political conversation with any of them, ages 24 (2) all the way down to a 5th grader. They don’t know anything, could care less about such things, don’t vote and don’t care unless they see it on social media in a sound bite, sometimes.

    On the other hand I could have cared less about any JO’s political views (or skin color, or ……), but if he failed to stand a taut watch, well God help him!! I believe you know, without ever serving as such, what standing a taut watch really means. Basically, it boils down to character and hard work usually under bad conditions, no matter what…….



    • Anson,

      I didn’t mean to get into this stuff this far, but you sort of got me started.

      I think “kids” have always found it “easy to go a mile wide and an inch deep,” Anson. That’s part of being kids, kids who are raised in a heterogeneous socio-economic country, as I see it. I heard my 42-year-old daughter (then a high school teacher), often speak of how many of her students weren’t seriously into their education, of how many of them were apathetic, disruptive, etc. But I think back to when I was in school. You know what? Same thing. I would bet the percentages of kids who were indifferent, who were troublemakers, who just didn’t give a shit, were the same. Yet, somehow the country survived. In fact, in so many ways, we have made progress (at least up until 11/8/16).

      As for having conversations with “kids” under 24, especially about politics, yes it is difficult. But I don’t find it any more difficult than having such conversations with people over 24 and all the way up. In fact, I would say most young folks have a greater general awareness of what is going on in the world than most of the older folks I talk to. What I mean is that most of the younger generation are aware of things like climate change; most of them are much more accepting of inevitable cultural diversity; most are familiar with the contours of this information-age world. I don’t find that same thing with people, say, in their 60s and 70s and 80s. Many of their ideas are frozen in pictures of their past, often distorted by faulty memories and a failure to understand how privileged they really were compared to other people. Many of them are afraid the culture is deteriorating, when often it is only changing for the better.

      And I remind you, it wasn’t young folks who brought us the scourge of Tr-mpism, which represents real deterioration—from which the younger generation you criticize will have to save us.

      Young folks can be distracted by shiny objects, that’s for sure. They can be too cynical about politics (largely thanks to the last couple of generations, as I argue) and just tune out in too many cases. Many of them are still prisoners of their provincial environment, like many around here are. But I will tell you, since my youngest is still young—he’s 22—I think you vastly underrate what so many of them can do.

      My son played college baseball for 4 years. In the offseason, he and his 30+ teammates were expected to get up before 6am, go to conditioning and weightlifting, then go to class, then go to practice in the afternoon, then come home and do homework, and then get up and do it all again the next day. And that’s just in the offseason. It was the equivalent, in terms of time invested, of a full-time job. And the athletes were required to maintain their grades, often missing classes to travel during the playing season. Yet I don’t recall but one or maybe two over those four years quitting the program. And many of those hard-working “kids” stuck around even though they worked as hard as the next guy and rarely got to play in games.

      Now, you might think that athletes are a special case. But I don’t think so. I think we older people believe we know so much and they know so little, that we worked so hard and they are lazy, simply because we’ve just had more experience and experiences, which tends to distort, in crucial ways, our perception. But I do think there is a serious problem involving this younger generation. I do think there are so many things today that can distract them and occupy their attention, from video games to social media to, and I’m repeating myself, to fear and cynicism that their futures have been mucked up by people like you and me.

      So, before you criticize the millennials, perhaps you should start with a judgment of just how bad your generation and my generation really did, in some important ways, muck up the world, whether it be by ignoring our changing climate and our role in it, or starting a war with Iraq that has caused incalculable damage for, quite clearly, generations to come.

      Just sayin’.


      Liked by 1 person

  6. ansonburlingame

     /  September 27, 2017

    Duane, again,

    This exchange has little to do with any of your blogs but I really like it. Thus I continue it at least once more.

    You already know how much influence The Bell Curve had/has on my thinking about younger generations and public education in general. But I only really like the first 3/4s of the book, the analysis rendered to make his various points. His solutions however were and remain problematic for me. Same with Sasse’s book. He states what I consider to be a real problem and says “why” he states it in the first Part 1, of the book, about 1/4th of it in all. His solutions are again problematic for me, too “traditional”. But I find it hard to disregard the first part of the book, why he is concerned about millennials.

    While pondering the challenges facing millennials, and they are new and very different challenges, I am also reflecting “back” by watching the PBS series, slowly and thoughtfully, about Vietnam. One can argue that situation was the fault of the lingering members of the “Greatest Generation” but I don’t. I feel like I/we (my generation of baby boomers) own it.

    The documentary thus far is nothing really new to me as I studied that war in great detail in 85-86 but without the benefit of the book Dereliction of Duty, a truly iconic book to me. But I am now watching and thinking about that history and ask myself what SHOULD have been done differently from just 1960 up to JFKs death.

    I will admit that I had no idea that in the 1954 time frame Ho Chi Minh actually reached out to USA for help for his nation, not his ideology. His appeal never reached any President however and thus no help for Vietnam, not the later partitioned country. Only when the specter of communism arose did American decide to “help”. And there we went down the drain of nation building, part one.

    We, both political parties, continue, in a sense, to make the same mistakes again but now communism is a forgotten foe It, communism eventually died a natural death and few today try to resurrect it. It is radical Islam (OK, Russia too, with a different kind of Chinese threat as well today) presenting the threat and right at home now, given technology, information, etc., etc. Lingering baby boomers are leading the charge but now ably assisted by millennials and gen X, today. Are we replaying THAT old Vietnam history, I ask, or is this one really new and different? I don’t know for sure but suspect history is repeating itself.

    So what or who cares now, right? Now try to have such a conversation with almost anyone such as this one today, particularly the younger generation marching down the path of new social awareness, protest over…., etc., etc. with so much information on hand that no one can comprehend it all.

    I close with one other insight brought to me by the PBS documentary. Simultaneous with the complexity of Vietnam, a la 1960-63, was Civil Rights turmoil at home. Hippies protesting Vietnam had to share space with the Civil Rights movement back then and their common ground was anti-government, federal government, for sure. Today geopolitical debate shares space with ………..? More protests, outrage, etc. over BLM, black on white (or the opposite) matters, etc.

    We are once again outraged as a nation over a multitude of problems and protests are now reaching the stages of violence, etc. as seen in say 1968. War and Peace, Equality and ……, you name it. My only question now is which was or is worse, 1968 or 2017 and still fighting over the same issues, fundamentally.

    Now go ask a millennial what they have to say on such points and see what answers you get back. They are the ones that must, again, try to resolve such continuing turmoil. My generation did some good things for sure, but……. In things really important “we” kicked those cans down the road and our grandkids are faced with a whole stack of old cans now plus a national debt that will prevent us buying ourselves out of anything in the future.

    In a moral world, cost is “nothing”. But in a “real world”…. As well “cost” back in “my days” was all relative. “We”, America had all the money while everyone else “recovered” from …… Today, that relative wealth and cost means a lot more than it used to. That is a polite way of saying “show me the cost of HC” to get my vote, today, morality being a common agreement.



    • Anson,

      I am working on a post about public schools, but have a ways to go, so I am sure I will publish some things you don’t like. We’ll argue about that when the time comes.

      As for the Bell Curve and all the controversy that surrounds that,  I recently listened to Murray on a Sam Harris podcast, which was mostly about IQ, etc. I am still trying to digest what I heard there. I was shocked that Harris so easily succumbed to Murray’s analysis without giving any credence to objections to the whole idea of what constitutes human intelligence. But I have been meaning to go back and re-listen to that discussion (which is fairly long) and haven’t been able to. Until then, I don’t want to get into a debate about it.

      I just started the Vietnam doc yesterday, as a matter of a fact. The first installment was fantastic, as I learned so many things I did not know (including, as a triviality, how to properly pronounce “Diem”). Looking forward to having the time to get through the rest of it. I think Ken Burns and his team (historian Geoffrey Ward is the writer and is simply fantastic) are national treasures.

      Ho Chi Minh’s attempt to involve the US on his side, as opposed to the colonial French, was shocking to me (that attempt actually went all the way back to Wilson). I was taught (by my conservative mentors) that Ho was all about his communist ideology. In reality, it appears the US could have not only—possibly—averted a national tragedy (our failed war and all the death that went with it on all sides, military and civilian), but could have been on the moral side of that decades-long struggle (colonialism v. self-determination.) Alas, Cold War politics was front and center and ruined any chance of a good outcome it seems.

      As for the sixties and all that stuff, I haven’t got that far. But I will say that in the several interviews I have seen Ken Burns do about the documentary, he always compares 1968, etc, with today, especially the fact that Nixon “colluded” with the South Vietnamese to keep Humphrey from gaining even more momentum at the end of the ’68 election. I wish more people knew about that.

      In any case, it’s nice to know you are still fixated on the national debt and deficits. Too bad your Republican friends in Congress (come on, you support many of them) have stopped worrying about the debt and deficits, now that Democrats aren’t in the White’s House. The latest tax proposal, to the extent it can be examined, demands trillions of additional debt, just so rich people can cash in on their investment in the Republican Party. It really is shameful.



  7. ansonburlingame

     /  September 28, 2017

    Which is why I am not a Republican, Duane. I suppose I must now get out the Bell Curve and get back into Murray’s analysis. I do recall arguments over IQ as a meaningful metric, or not. For me I pay little attention to it. But I sure can tell a bad student from a good one, long ago and still today. The grandchild I wrote about having real difficulties has an off the chart, high, IQ by the way. So what if she can’t get a job??

    Now back to Alabama and NFL!!!



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