Is the Republican Party Finished?

Many have predicted the collapse of the G.O.P. for quite some time. After Governor Mitt Romney’s defeat to President Obama in 2012, political commentators (let’s take a page out of Jose Mourinho’s book and call them “Einsteins”) declared the Republican Party dead and that there was no foreseeable path to the White House.

Fast forward to the 2014 midterm elections and a different story arose. The Republicans, pushing more mainstream candidates during the primary process for House and Senate races, increased their majority in the House to 247 and captured control of the Senate for the first time since 2006. Paul Ryan was successful in fending off more right-wing challengers in his bid to succeed House Speaker John Boehner, and Congress was getting to work.

In mid-2015, a significant number of Republicans began to line up for the upcoming Presidential primaries. Names like Senators Marco Rubio, Rand Paul and, Lindsay Graham and Ted Cruz, Governors Jeb Bush, Scott Walker, Chris Christie and John Kasich, and the likes of former Hewlitt Packard CEO Carly Fiorina and neurosurgeon Dr Ben Carson threw themselves into the race to succeed President Obama and face off to the presumptive Democratic nominee, former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton.

Then, something happened.

Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump speaks to supporters as he takes the stage for a campaign event in Dallas, Monday, Sept. 14, 2015. (AP Photo/LM Otero)

Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump speaks to supporters as he takes the stage for a campaign event in Dallas, Monday, Sept. 14, 2015. (AP Photo/LM Otero)

After flirting with a Presidential run in 2012, New York businessman Donald J. Trump threw his hat into the ring, announcing his campaign from Trump Tower in Manhattan. No one took his campaign seriously, laughing off the prospects of a real estate mogul- turned reality television host ever launching a serious bid for the Republican nomination. Especially not with someone like Hillary Clinton to be his likely competitor.

Republican operatives and leading party officials began to become nervous as more and more debates took place and Trump easily slapped down his would-be competitors Bush, Rubio and Cruz. It didn’t matter who spoke or what they said- all the questions were about either something Trump said or did that week. At that point, he had won. Once you make yourself the main subject, no one else will be able to break out into the light.

The story goes on, as we all know, and after the third and final Presidential Debate last week where Mr Trump and Mrs Clinton squared off again, the saga will come to an end on November 8th.

However, a larger story is emerging from the shadows of Mr Trump’s controversial and at times amateur campaign- has he finally done what many thought was already done and killed off the Republican Party once and for all?

It is a very difficult question to answer, given the uncertainties of his own election and that of many House, Senate, and Governor’s races across the country. One thing is for certain. The G.O.P. will not simply disappear on the morning of November 9th. The party will still likely have a majority in the House, though the Democrats seem poised to pick up a good amount of seats in the lower house and regain control of the Senate after just two years in the minority. Some states might go from Red to Blue this cycle in Governor’s races. Mr Trump’s running-mate, Indiana Governor Mike Pence, is not running again and the election there to succeed him is a tossup in an otherwise predominantly Republican state. North Carolina Governor Pat McCrory is facing a serious challenge to his governorship after poor economic performances and his state’s controversial law banning transgender facilities.

That said, there likely will not be any devastating surprises come November 8th. All signs point to Hillary Clinton winning the election. Paul Ryan’s job will probably be safe, or at least the Republicans won’t lose control of the House. And other Governor’s races are in deeply Democratic states like Vermont, Delaware, Oregon and Washington where the Republicans were never really competitive anyway.

All things considered, Donald Trump has not put the final nail in the coffin of the Republican Party. Mrs Clinton will have to work with Republicans to get at least one Supreme Court seat filled and to pass a budget. Trump’s campaign should be a wake-up call for the Republican Leadership. The party needs to modernise and align itself with more pragmatic and mainstream ideas concerning immigration, LGBT rights and women’s issues. The party needs to return to the classical liberalism that has made it so attractive in the past, sticking to issues of economic liberty and a state that doesn’t meddle in people’s everyday lives.

If the G.O.P. wants to get out of 2016 in one piece, Party Chairman Reince Priebus needs to resign and a moderate needs to take over. The party needs to officially disavow itself from Trump-ism and work for the nation’s best interests in Congress. Republicans need to end their obstructionism and get on with the job of finding a suitable Supreme Court justice.

The G.O.P. is not dead- just in very critical condition.

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