Democrats and “NeverTrumpers” Working Together
In a recent article, we talked about the fact that the business community, such as the Chamber of Commerce and the Koch brothers, are disappointed in Donald Trump’s trade and immigration policies. We also talked about the danger of a party becoming so big that it splits. We noted that two groups split from the Democratic Party in 1948—the liberal Progressives and the segregationist Dixiecrats. The Republicans are facing a similar fissure. The free-traders are fighting with the protectionists, for example. Then, there are moderates, who feel alienated from both parties.
Conservative columnist David Brooks thinks it may be time for a third party. But his idea is not to have a centrist candidate. He thinks an even more radical person would be needed—someone who would devolve power away from Washington. All presidential candidates run “against Washington,” but they really just want the power for themselves.
Third parties have not fared well, at least not since the Republican Party succeeded the Whigs. Bill Scher writes in politico that the way to get a centrist candidate is for Republicans to align with Democrats.
Some #NeverTrump conservatives, like New York Times columnist David Brooks and former Bush White House aide Reed Galen, are talking about creating a new third party. Others, like George Will and Max Boot, have become registered independents and are urging voters to put Democrats in charge of Congress this November, as a kind of temporary stopgap measure until the Republicans return to their senses. But according to speculation reported by POLITICO, former McCain 2008 chief strategist Steve Schmidt may go one step further: He’s reportedly thinking about signing up with a 2020 Democratic presidential candidate, possibly former Starbucks CEO Howard Schultz.
No doubt Schmidt would get attacked for being an opportunist. But if you are a conservative, #NeverTrump, pro-immigrant, free-trading, anti-Putin defender of the post-World War II international order, the only principled and practical move left is to join the Democratic Party. . .
Backing a no-chance candidate like Bill Kristol against Trump in the 2020 Republican primaries just to make a point is a fool’s errand. And even a serious candidate like Jeff Flake or Ben Sasse doesn’t stand a chance, given Trump’s approval ratings among Republicans. Once #NeverTrump conservatives accept that they have completely lost the core debates about the direction and purpose of the Republican Party, they can open their eyes to the possibility of winning some debates inside the Democratic Party. . .
Join the Democratic Party? That’s the “slightly less bad” option, wrote Galen, where conservatives would be “disliked and distrusted, pushed to the margins.” But wait, how is that different from the space #NeverTrump conservatives occupy in today’s Republican Party?
The Koch brothers have been making headlines lately, saying they would consider backing Democratic candidates, most notably, incumbent Sen. Claire McCaskill, of Missouri. Other NeverTrumpers are working in the background. And some Democrats are helping them.
Since Donald J. Trump began dominating American politics more than two years ago, Democrats concerned about his policies and behavior have taken solace in a group of influential Republicans who have consistently assailed the president as anathema to the values of their party, and the country more broadly.
In the past year, however, influential liberal donors and operatives have gone from cheering these so-called Never Trump Republicans to quietly working with — and even funding — them. Through invitation-only emails and private, off-the-record meetings, they have formed a loose network of cross-partisan alliances aimed at helping neutralize President Trump, and preventing others from capitalizing on weaknesses in the political system that they say he has exploited.
While this network has mostly eschewed electoral politics, some involved see the potential for it to help form an ideological — and possibly financial — platform to back candidates, including a centrist challenge to Mr. Trump in 2020, possibly from within the G.O.P. or even a third party.
The network — composed of overlapping groups led by Democrats such as the donor Rachel Pritzker and several veteran Obama administration operatives, as well as leading Never Trump Republicans like Evan McMullin, Mindy Finn and William Kristol — aims to chart a middle path between a Republican base falling in line behind Mr. Trump and a liberal resistance trying to pull the Democratic Party left.
“If you’re a Republican who is concerned about the health of the liberal order and alarmed over the destruction of the norms of American democracy, there’s no reason you shouldn’t be willing to work with a Democrat who is equally concerned about those same matters,” said Jerry Taylor, a Republican who is president of the Niskanen Center, a moderate think tank that grew out of the libertarian Cato Institute.
The recent defection of former John McCain strategist, Steve Schmidt, made waves.
Steve Schmidt’s public break from the GOP and quiet departure from his corporate PR gig earlier this summer are fueling speculation in Republican circles that that he’ll advise a presidential bid by his longtime client, former Starbucks chief Howard Schultz, or another Democratic candidate in 2020.
Questions about Schmidt’s future began to swirl in June when he announced his departure from the GOP in a series of tweets embracing the Democratic Party. It was a rare act of defiance in a party that has mostly fallen in line behind President Donald Trump — one that has many Republicans talking about what exactly Schmidt plans to do next. . .
Schmidt’s moves coincided with Shultz’s announcement of his retirement from Starbucks, effective June 26. Schultz’s retirement has fanned speculation that he will run for president as a Democrat in 2020, a prospect with which he has openly toyed as he mulls his post-Starbucks future.
There’s a saying that “nothing succeeds like success.” That may be true, but as the Republican Party has become the “Trump Party,” there are plenty of conservatives who think a radical change is needed.
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