Bret Stephens Whistles Past the Graveyard

My Former Republican Party

A comment I left in response at The Right Coast:

He wants a party that represents his views better. I want that too but it’s not available. Until it is I’ll settle for the lesser evil.
The country has changed and the political parties have changed with it. Some of the changes are shocking and undesirable. Trump is a kind of crowdsourced response by middle-class, mostly Republican voters to all of this. Despite his bad qualities he gets some big things right that the political mainstream insists on ignoring. He represents the least-bad option at the moment. As Glenn says, if he is rejected the next least-bad alternative will be even less attractive to the people who complain about Trump.

18 thoughts on “Bret Stephens Whistles Past the Graveyard”

  1. That column is absurdly content-free, and emblematic of why the GOP as currently constituted is dead. The guy’s 42 and doesn’t seem to have live through the last 30 years at all.

    On immigration, he fails to mention the tens of millions of illegal immigrants since 1980.

    On trade, he fails to mention the collapse of industrial manufacturing employment, and the associated decimation of small and mid-size cities all across the country.

    On foreign policy, he fails to mention Iraq.

    On “culture, civility, and character”, well, good grief, see the above 3 points, people ain’t happy.

  2. I’ve admired Bret Stevens and of course Trump is unattractive. However, I can’t see how the first lady of a White House whose most frequent foreign visitor was Arafat and whose chief and ever supportive aid is a woman whose family is involved with and certainly admires the Muslim Brotherhood and who was willing to sell American plutonium to Russia as long as her friends (with deep pockets for her) did the deal is not a danger at home and abroad. (That’s not getting into the vulnerable e-mails and the Clinton Foundation.) To say an argument against Hillary is not an argument for Trump ignores what Ryan called the binary choice before us this time. And with a nationalized health care system, and control of the FBI, Justice Department, IRS, etc. does anyone think the next election is going to offer a choice we like better?

  3. I rather expect that Stephens will get the Republican Party he wants that is the junior partner of the Democrats. For at least a while. However, regardless of who wins the presidential election, the Republican Party as previously constituted is dead. Watch the R-D-I registration figures after the election. While we may not have another election after this year, I expect that until it becomes moot that the number of people registered Republican will plummet.

  4. “I expect that until it becomes moot that the number of people registered Republican will plummet.”

    If Trump wins, I think your prediction will be incorrect.

    It may realign radically but so did the Republicans compared to the Whigs in 1856.


    the Whigs supported the supremacy of Congress over the Presidency and favored a program of modernization, banking and economic protectionism to stimulate manufacturing. It appealed to entrepreneurs and planters, but had little appeal to farmers or unskilled workers. It included many active Protestants, and voiced a moralistic opposition to the Jacksonian Indian removal policies. Party founders chose the “Whig” name to echo the American Whigs of 1776, who fought for independence. “Whig” meant opposing tyranny.[3] Historian Frank Towers has specified a deep ideological divide:

    Democrats stood for the ‘sovereignty of the people’ as expressed in popular demonstrations, constitutional conventions, and majority rule as a general principle of governing, whereas Whigs advocated the rule of law, written and unchanging constitutions, and protections for minority interests against majority tyranny.

    I disagree on several of these.

    The Whigs, as I understand it, were for commercial ventures, like canals and railroads. They became the party of the gentry and the wealthy.

    I agree with this:

    As Jackson purged his opponents, vetoed internal improvements, and killed the Second Bank of the United States, alarmed local elites fought back.

    The Whigs also were the party of “every day, in every way, things are betting better and better.

    “Most Democrats were wholehearted supporters of expansion, whereas many Whigs (especially in the North) were opposed. Whigs welcomed most of the changes wrought by industrialization but advocated strong government policies that would guide growth and development within the country’s existing boundaries; they feared (correctly) that expansion raised a contentious issue the extension of slavery to the territories. On the other hand, many Democrats feared industrialization the Whigs welcomed. … For many Democrats, the answer to the nation’s social ills was to continue to follow Thomas Jefferson’s vision of establishing agriculture in the new territories in order to counterbalance industrialization.”

    That I agree with. Slavery came to overwhelm all other issues, just like the culture wars may do so here and now.

    The Democrats seem to be going down the road of cultural suicide. Immigration is part of it. The Muslims are part of it.

    Britain is now experiencing the effects of the Labour importation of a new voting class. They are our future.

    The Globalist class do not care about culture here or in Britain. The Democrats have made a pact with the devil. It may destroy them.

  5. “If you like your country, and you want to keep your country, vote for Trump.”
    Per Howie Carr, Boston Talk Radio:

    If you don’t care about the American Bill of Rights or American sovereignty, if your satisfied with subsidies and handouts, and you long to live in a transnational flophouse, you’ve got Hillary.

    Pretty simple, eh?

  6. Go back home to the Democrats Bret. You lost me at Harry Truman, father of our failed internationalist strategy of losing wars in order to be subservient to Eurabia.

  7. Bret runs a risk of alienating Trump Republicans who are the best friends Israel has in the US, or anywhere for that matter. Trump’s daughter is a convert and her husband is Orthodox, I believe.

    This is clumsy at best. The Bush clan are not friends of Israel.

    I became very pro-Israel when they rescued the hostages at Entebbe. I am not Jewish nor a very good Christian but I respect people who do what they have to do and don’t complain.

    We used to be like that.

  8. We are long overdue for a political re-alignment, which has happened several times in the past, most notably with the formation of the Republican party to replace the hapless Whigs in the runup to the Civil War.

    Both of the major parties have undergone transformations over the last century, switching places in various ways, and the current parties have very little resemblance to the parties I grew up with.

    Trump is a surfer riding a wave he discovered, but didn’t create, and Clinton is the latest capo attempting to achieve the top spot in the criminal organization of which she is an active member.

    It would not be at all surprising to see either party, or both, fragment into competing factions, along the fault lines already clearly visible, after the election, regardless who wins.

    It is troublesome that the most respected and trusted social entity left is the military, but the other major elements of our social/cultural superstructure have disgraced themselves so badly, esp. the media, and the legislatures, that there isn’t much left for the average citizen to have much confidence in, either as regards honesty or competence.

    I have been shocked and dismayed beyond description that two such outlandish characters have gotten this far in a contest for the highest office, but I can also sense the boiling frustration and anger that has propelled much of this electoral cycle into strange and foreign vistas.

    I doubt either candidate will manage to finish a full term, for either health or legal reasons, or some other more unfortunate incident. The truly crucial election will be in 2020, if it is held at all. After this year, God only knows what kind of bizarre circus that will descend into becoming, but our social conventions are badly frayed, and the hostility between the blues and the greens is becoming ever more violent and dangerous. (That last is a Byzantine reference—an historical model I find most apt these strange days.)

  9. Mike K Says:
    October 25th, 2016 at 3:36 pm

    If Trump wins, I think your prediction will be incorrect.

    Of course, if Trump loses, at least 40% of the Republican Party will walk.

    But even if he wins, the Republican Party just doesn’t know it is dead yet. Those who fought so hard to stab us in the back repeatedly will be subject to political revenge. And they will not stop fighting Trump, alongside the Democrats, and I expect a lot of them will become Democrats. Either way, the Republican Party is gone.

    Here in Colorado, most TEA Party members are registered Republicans. In several counties the TEA Party controls the County Party, including my own. Most of them here, like me, plan on leaving the Republican Party if he loses, and probably if Trump wins. If Trump ends up supporting a real SECOND party, a lot of us will be there. I have said elsewhere that the National and State Republican Parties are engaged in an experiment. They believe that they can stay in office even if they micturate on their own voter base from a very great height on a regular basis. They will be proved right or wrong fairly soon.

    Of course I could be wrong. Romney or Eggs McMuffin may be the future.

  10. Apparently, Arthur Vandenberg’s son was gay. Hoover had a file on him going back years and used it later to prevent him from being appointed to a White House position in the Eisenhower Administration. It’s not a big leap to imagine that information could be used by Truman to sway the Senator from isolationism to internationalism.

  11. We encountered Vandenberg’s nephew General Hoyt Vandenberg back in September when the Senate Korean War hearings mysteriously came back into the news. It was Hoyt who turned the knife in MacArthur’s back when he falsely testified that China was holding back their Air Force in reserve in case we escalated. Hoyt, once described by Omar Bradley as “not a smart man,” was the second CIA chief from 1946 to 1947. His tenure was notable for resting Latin American intelligence operations from Hoover’s and the FBI’s iron grip. Shortly after he left the CIA to become chief of the new Air Force, his uncle Arthur Vandenberg became chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee and immediately threw his unyielding support behind Truman’s Internationalism.

  12. ” Arthur Vandenberg’s son was gay. Hoover had a file on him going back years”

    I wonder if that was the basis of “Advice and Consent?”

    Drury was gay and the book dealt with the topic of concealed history.

    I also had (I don’t know where books go) Drury’s ” A Senate Journal.

    It is excellent and the basis for the novel.

  13. “The Bush clan are not friends of Israel.”

    Not to quibble Doctor, but I recall Netanyahu on Charlie Rose gushing that George W was the best friend Israel ever had. True, that was back around 2005ish, and there may have been some political posturing there. But I’ll take his word over yours on that matter.

  14. “But I’ll take his word over yours on that matter.”

    I’ll take the words of James Baker in 2015.

    Baker told the gala dinner for the left-leaning Israeli advocacy group J Street that he supported efforts to get a deal with Tehran — but he called for President Barack Obama to bring any agreement before Congress, even though he may not legally be required to do so.
    Baker, who was the chief diplomat for President George H.W. Bush and is now advising Jeb Bush on his presidential campaign, cited mounting frustrations with Netanyahu over the past six years — but particularly with comments he made in the closing days of last week’s election disavowing his support for a two-state solution and support for settlements strategically placed to attempt to change the borders between Israel and the West Bank.

    Or, James Baker in 2014.

    As head of the State Department under president George H.W. Bush in 1990, Baker said that Netanyahu, then deputy foreign minister, was barred from the building after saying American foreign policy in the Middle East was “based on lies and distortions.”

    “I barred him,” Baker said. “That may not be widely known.”

    The Republican administration’s snub of Netanyahu was reported at the time, but Baker’s comments provide an institutional perspective on the US-Israel relationship as reports surface of unprecedented tensions between the two governments.

    “There are always tensions in all foreign policy relationships, even with allies,” Baker told CNN’s Candy Crowley.

    Or, George W Bush about his father.

    When they first met as U.S. president and Israeli prime minister, George W. Bush made clear to Ariel Sharon that he would not follow in the footsteps of his father.

    The first President Bush had been tough on Israel, especially the Israeli settlements in occupied lands that Sharon had helped develop.


    The first President Bush came to the Oval Office with long diplomatic experience, strong ties to Arab leaders and a realpolitik view that held the United States should pursue its own strategic interests, not high-minded goals like democracy, even if it meant negotiating with undemocratic regimes like Syria and Iran.

    There’s more.

  15. Or you could both be right. Baker’s pretty notoriously anti-Israel. Bush I had his CIA & Arabist connections. W, with his strong evangelical faith, was quite different from either of them, and was very strongly pro-Israel (for all the hysterics about neocons, one has to remember W wasn’t one of them–he was & is a theocon, if we’re going to get fast and loose with stereotypes). The only thing important about the Bush clan now is that they be done with high elected office.

  16. I remember the movie version of Advise and Consent. I’m going to check that book out. It’s interesting when these NeverTrumpers use so many of the same overlapping storylines (like they’re all coordinating, hmmm), then those storylines themselves are composed of other overlapping storylines. So much of interpreting history is reading between the lines anyway. There’s no end to what you dig up.

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