It’s almost astounding how low the GOP has sunk since Trump became president.
To be fair, their moral descent started decades ago, but since 2017, it’s been a sinking ship.
And now they have to grab everything they can before the ship goes under.
The last Republican to win the presidency by the popular vote, without being an incumbent, was George H. W. Bush in 1988, for one term, and the party was much different then. He lost to Democrat Bill Clinton in 1992.
A Republican presidential candidate has literally not won the popular vote in the last 30 years, the only exception being George W. Brush’s reelection campaign in 2004, whilst we were in a war (it’s worth mentioning that statistically voters tend to vote to keep a president in office during wartime versus replacing them). Donald Trump lost the popular vote by more than anyone else before him: nearly 3 million votes.
So, why does it feel like a failing party has so much power? The answer is quite simple: they know how to play the system. And I have to be honest, they know how to play the system better than the Democrats by a LONG shot. And this is where the DNC has so sorely failed.
The GOP has been playing the long game starting thirty years ago. In 1982, after being discouraged by the amount of liberal leaning judges coming out of the top colleges, conservatives in the Ivy League decided to start a conservative law students organization for those hoping to become judges. Since then, it has become just that: a pipeline for conservative law students to conservative judges.
When Trump spoke about picking the next Supreme Court nominee from a list, that list was written and given to him by The Federalist Society. He just had to pick a name (and coincidently he didn’t pick the most conservative judge, but he did pick the one that wrote in 2009 that they don’t believe a sitting president should or can be indicted).
But their judicial plan went deeper. Trump has appointed more judges than Obama and Bush at this point in their presidency combined. Obviously, it’s important to have conservative judges in every circuit court, because they can strike down any laws or lawsuits that may interrupt the system that keeps conservatives in power: it’s a defense mechanism.
Aside from their judicial plan, they realized after Obama’s win in 2008 that they needed to take legislative action.
In the way of redistricting and blocking votes.
In 2010, two years into Obama’s presidency, Karl Rove published an article in The Wall Street Journal explaining the GOP’s new strategy: REDMAP. The goal was to win the local elections, because it was a census year and that means whoever was in power would be able to draw new district lines and gerrymander their districts to help them win. Basically, the purpose of that publication was for all and any GOP candidates and voters to understand the importance of local elections: if they took the local districts, they would be able to draw the districts the way they would need to win federally.
And it works. It works too well. Districting is incredibly important. For example, if a college town is majority liberal leaning, but surrounded by conservative rural areas, all one has to do is split the college town into two districts and their liberal leaning majority has been made obsolete.
The DNC slept on this. Entirely. It was published for everyone to see, the DNC knew about it, but they didn’t take it seriously.
I should also mention the GOP’s push for strict voting laws. A huge strategy by the RNC is simply to suppress racial minorities’s votes, as they tend to lean liberal. State Voting ID laws, some of which have been founded to be unconstitutional, disproportionately discriminate against minorities. As does another of their voting tactics: shutting down polling places, making it more difficult for racial minorities to get to the polls.
Flash forward to 2012, their plan is already unfolding. Yes, Obama won again, but the GOP’s slow cooker plan was working. They had won – a lot, and they were able to redistrict counties in numerous key states which helped them win congress, hence why they were able to block anything Obama put forth until the end of his presidency.
Obama only had two years of his presidency with a Democratic majority congress (he gets shit for not doing more in that time, and yeah, but hey, hindsight), after that, it was controlled by the GOP, and their strategy was to block nearly every bill he put forth, hindering his options and forcing him to use his Executive Power (which, of course, they could easily criticize. And did – frequently).
So here comes the 2016 elections. In the primaries, they stretched themselves too thin by having so many candidates, some too similar and some to different. Because of that, they end up with Trump, which was quite obviously not in their plan.
Nonetheless, they turn their attention to the general election and the Electoral College, which often works in their favor.
Sidenote: The Hillary campaign definitely made mistakes by not focusing enough of swing states she thought she had in the bag, like Wisconsin, Michigan and Pennsylvania. Some wonder if the DNC email hackers knew those states were not being targeted, and handed that information over to the Trump campaign, though we can’t say for sure.
Either way, the Electoral College was originally intended to actually deter the very situation we are in. It’s primary intention was to “check” the uniformed mass voter base via a group of electors who could vote for or against how the people voted. Nowadays, electors are more of a formality than anything.
Rural areas tend to vote conservative, but have less people. Urban areas tend to vote liberal, but have more people. The Electoral College disproportionately gives rural state voters and swing state voters more power than those in urban areas. My Illinoisan vote carries less weight than an Ohioans’ vote, as they are a swing state.
The Electoral College has many problems, and no one can fully decide if it favors either party, or is unfavorable to both. Either way, it’s a system that can be played.
Trump’s win obviously came down to much more than districts and the Electoral College, but the GOP’s rise to power isn’t about Trump’s win. It started a long time ago, and it was very strategic.
Kavanaugh’s confirmation to the Supreme Court was a strategic necessity. With a conservative majority in the highest court of the land, they believe they can ensure that the system that works for them will not change.
That being said, though it may feel like the GOP’s views are the majority, it’s simply not true.
I truly believe as more people start to catch on to their tricks and strategy, they will not be able to sustain their power.
TL&DR: The GOP played the system for decades, which has led them to their current position of power, but most importantly, that does NOT mean they reflect the majority. Yes, because they have power, it may SEEM like majority of the country supports them, it’s simply not true.
Have hope. Vote. Don’t stop pushing.