Guy In Charge Of GOP Elections Insists GOP Will Change Nothing, Twice As Hard
November was tough for Republicans, who lost a stunning and totally inexplicable (at least according to Paul Ryan) 40 House seats in the midterm elections. They've since been busy trying to prevent all those annoying outcomes of losing elections, but they've also taken time to reflect on their setbacks and formulate a rock-solid strategy for 2020. Rep. Tom Emmer from Minnesota discussed the GOP's "don't call it a comeback!" plans in an interview with the National Journal. It basically involves doing absolutely nothing twice as hard.
Emmer is the next chairman of the National Republican Congressional Committee, and according to this interview at least, he really shouldn't be. He's running unopposed to replace Steve Stivers, and unless "unopposed" rallies to prevail in the final vote, Republicans are going to have trouble reversing their current difficulties in the House.
Emmer, who was just elected to a third term in Minnesota's 6th District, is more upbeat than some of his colleagues. Republicans in the lower chamber have begun a public hand-wringing over the future of the party after an electoral drubbing that handed Democrats dozens of districts in suburban areas that were once Republican strongholds.
Yeah, remember how even Orange County, California, of all places flipped blue? That's a clear red alert for Republicans, but Emmer is nonetheless "upbeat." OK, what problem was ever solved by moping around like some prophet of doom? Please, Mr. Emmer, tell us how you're going to make life a cabaret again for Republicans?
"There's a narrative that people are trying to build out there that somehow there's been this shift, this political realignment in the suburbs," Emmer said. "That's not true. It isn't there."
So, you've examined the problem and determined that there is no problem? Huh? What do you even mean that there was no "political realignment in the suburbs"? The evidence is clearly there: it's your ass that Democrats just handed to you. A Republican pollster, responding to Emmer's comments, basically accused him of denying reality. It's obvious that women and suburbanites voted based on how disgusted they are with Donald Trump, and "there is little reason to believe that either Trump or those voters will change their behaviors in two years." You can't fix your problem unless you admit it exists.
Emmer insists that Republicans lost because they didn't effectively remind voters, especially independents, about how awesome the economy was. For some bizarre reason, voters were fixated on Republican efforts to deprive them of health care and help fund yacht maintenance for the dozen or so people in Betsy DeVos's tax bracket. These ingrates were unwilling to consider everything Republicans have not done for them and overlook the GOP's total corruption and enabling of a mad king.
Speaking of which, surely Emmer is willing to place some blame squarely on Trump himself? Midterms are often referendums on the current president. He even admits that Trump's focus on how brown immigrants were going to murder us might've offended the moderates they needed to win.
"You're definitely impacted, but you don't rise or fall based on the executive," he said. "You get to run your own race, but I think this is a customer-service business. You have to have your own independent brand."
I'm fairly sure that's all gibberish, and even if you placed the words in some sensible order, I still don't think I'd agree. When the president from your own party is "Individual 1" in his former personal lawyer's guilty plea, it's slightly possible he has the political buoyancy of lead. Aside from the ongoing criminal investigation that's zeroing in on Trump like a crook-seeking missile, his approval ratings are as terrible as they are lousy. According to a CNN poll released today, a paltry 39 percent of Americans approve of Trump's performance as president. It has remained steady since last month but last month was a fecal exhibition for Republicans.
I don't get Republicans' continued attachment to and perhaps outright fear of Trump. Noble WASP George H.W. Bush enjoyed approval ratings in the mid-80s at this point prior to his re-election campaign in 1992. He'd later lose the race to Falstaff and Lady Macbeth from Arkansas. His approval had dipped to a then-shocking 46 percent in 1992 when he faced a primary challenge from Pat Buchanan. Trump manages mid-40s approval on a good, non-unindicted co-conspirator week. Yet Republicans never seriously discuss denying him the nomination again in 2020. Seriously, what does Trump have on these guys?
Emmer is so dedicated to his "straight ahead at the iceberg" strategy that he's actually considering running the same candidates who just lost their races. To their credit, most of them are more connected to reality than Emmer. Mike Bishop, a two-term Republican who was defeated in November, said that voters, especially women, were generally "dissatisfied" and even a little "repelled" by the GOP. But Bishop think it's up to someone else to "figure out" what to do next.
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Stephen Robinson is a writer and social kibbitzer based in Portland, Oregon. He's on the board of the Portland Playhouse theater and writes for the immersive theater Cafe Nordo in Seattle.