Blogger Jonathan Chait: GOP ‘Needs To Be Burned To The Ground And Rebuilt,’ And Trump Could Do The Job

Posted on Mon 02/08/2016 by

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Tom Johnson picture-58-1409692124By Tom Johnson ~

In a Friday piece, New York magazine’s Jonathan Chait delved into why he’d welcome seeing Donald Trump atop this year’s Republican ticket. First, he thinks Trump “would almost certainly lose” in November.

chaiter_0Chait (pictured) also offered two meatier reasons. One is the possibility of permanently driving a wedge between the party’s masses and its financial elite. “The GOP is a machine that harnesses ethno-nationalistic fear…to win elections and then, once in office, caters to its wealthy donor base,” argued Chait. “If, like me, you think the Republican Party in its current incarnation needs to be burned to the ground and rebuilt anew, Trump is the only one holding a match.”

The other is Chait’s belief that Trump would wind up governing as a sort of liberal, a la Arnold Schwarzenegger in California. “Schwarzenegger’s loyalty to Republican doctrine was tissue-thin,” Chait commented. “When conventional Republican governance made him unpopular, he had no incentive to go down with the party ship.”

From Chait’s piece (bolding added):

The GOP is a machine that harnesses ethno-nationalistic fear — of communists, criminals, matrimonial gays, terrorists, snooty cultural elites — to win elections and then, once in office, caters to its wealthy donor base…

Trump’s candidacy represents, among other things, a revolt by the Republican proletariat against its master class…A Trump nomination might not actually cleave the GOP in two, but it could wreak havoc. If, like me, you think the Republican Party in its current incarnation needs to be burned to the ground and rebuilt anew, Trump is the only one holding a match.

Trump-abcdeb…If he does win, a Trump presidency…might even, possibly, do some good…

…[S]omething like [a Trump presidency] has happened before…in 2003, when Arnold Schwarzenegger won the [California] governorship…Like Trump, Schwarzenegger came directly to politics from the celebrity world without bothering to inform himself about public policy…

At the beginning of his term, Schwarzenegger more or less fulfilled the worst liberal fears. He gashed a hole in the state budget with a tax cut he couldn’t pay for. He…proposed a slew of right-wing ballot initiatives…But then something funny happened. When his legislative agenda stalled and his ballot measures failed, Schwarzenegger reversed course. The new Schwarzenegger compromised with Democrats on the budget, raising taxes and funding new public infrastructure. He abandoned his opposition to gay marriage…and enacted cutting-edge legislation to reduce greenhouse-gas emissions. He proposed sweeping health-care reform based on Mitt Romney’s successful Massachusetts plan…By the end of his tenure, it was impossible to deny that Schwarzenegger had become a highly effective governor.

The reasons for this bear directly on a hypothetical Trump presidency. Schwarzenegger’s loyalty to Republican doctrine was tissue-thin…When conventional Republican governance made him unpopular, he had no incentive to go down with the party ship…

…Schwarzenegger [now] appears in ads for the video game Mobile Strike as a joyfully hawkish ­general — barking, “Send a dozen choppers, when one chopper would do”…Video-game pitchman Schwarzenegger, like Trump, sounds like a parody of the foreign-policy thought offered by the actual GOP candidates…The difference: Schwarzenegger, like Trump, is only playing a character. The truly dangerous Republicans are the ones who believe their own dialogue.

Tom Johnson is a contributing writer for NewsBusters.

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