Republicans Ascendant?

By Jerry Levine

Donald Trump at CPAC 2011 in Washington, D.C. By Gage Skidmore

Being a longtime moderate Republican, I am dismayed by the shift of the party’s base to an extremely angry conservatism. Trump and Carson have tapped into this base, and most of the umpteen others have jumped in too.

The base is angry. They are angry at terrorists, government, the banking system, immigration, the unequal economy, blue collar and white collar job loss, the rate of technological change, and at social issues like gay marriage, abortion and one-parent families. Finally, many are angry about any infringement of the Second Amendment. This anger is heightened by the 24/7 news media with mostly liberal talking heads blasting them.

Worse, they feel they are becoming powerless to stop or slow these changes.

The Republican Party is at a tipping point. To quote David Brooks, the New York Times house (not very) conservative, “It’s (not) any exaggeration to say the next six months will determine the viability of the Republican Party.” The demographics (age, ethnicity, metro vs. rural, sexual life style, etc.) of the country are changing and voting patterns will change to favor Democrats.

Brooks says, “Republicans must ask themselves, are we as a party willing to champion the new America that is inexorably rising around us, or are we going to recede in the rear view mirror of an America that is never coming back?”

In his book, America Ascendant, Stanley Greenberg (a Democratic pollster for Clinton, Gore, and Tony Blair among others) answers Brooks’ question with a resounding, “Yes, the GOP is near collapse!” And once that happens, the New Democrats will reform government in their image. While I disagree with many of Greenberg’s conclusions, there are many nuggets to glean from his extensive polling data.

America is being transformed by revolutionary changes. These changes create opportunity according to Greenberg, “to renew America and make it possible for America to be exceptional again.”

America is being fueled by revolutions in energy, immigration, innovation, big data, advanced manufacturing, and growth and change in metro areas. Democrats are aligned with the growing trends, while Republicans are fighting them. The GOP is the party of the oldest, most rural, most religiously observant, mostly married white voters. The GOP is barely considered by Millennials, the secular, the foreign born and people of color. The Party is not competitive in the country’s most dynamic growing metro areas.

Energy Revolution

Greenberg’s first area of American ascendancy is energy. He rightly points to fracking, 3-D seismic technology and horizontal drilling as having a major impact on our economy and world politics. America’s low energy costs are revitalizing energy intensive industries like steel, glass and petrochemicals. Fracking was developed largely in spite of government, not because of it. Along with the energy development, Greenberg also touts many CO2 emission reductions. But much of what he touts never happened. The advances he lauds in his book are merely press releases. The substance is not there. My former employer, BP, was a master at that, and look where they ended up.

Immigration Revolution

Greenberg does get it right on immigration. The best and brightest from all over the world are being educated at American universities, and 70% of the PhDs stay here. Greenberg points out that 25% of U.S. Nobel Prize winners were immigrants. The United States also benefits from unskilled and blue collar labor adding energy and wealth, and value in both services and manufacturing.

Innovation Revolution

Greenberg touts America’s innovation revolution. An R&D triad has evolved—industry government and academia. The book focuses on Silicon Valley, but one can include Boston’s Route 128 or Raleigh-Durham’s Research Triangle Park, as well as many others.

America is once again becoming one of the most productive places for manufacturing in the world. Markets are also doing well. Raw materials are plentiful, energy is cheap, and automation and skills are great. And this is old boring manufacturing. New high-tech from nanotechnology to biotech to artificial intelligence is exploding in the United States like no other place in the world.

Metropolitan and Millennial Revolutions

America’s cities and metro areas are now the engines of economic prosperity and social change. There is a return to urban life, away from rural and even suburban life. In cities there is a clustering of immigrants, younger people and the best educated. The radical changes in family, life-style and culture feed on one another to create innovation and drive economic growth. Eighty percent of Americans live in cities and produce 85% of the GDP. In Europe it is about 60%. Both young and older people today are not automatically buying single-family homes in the suburbs, but rather are moving to smaller rental units in the inner city close to public transportation.

Household size is declining, so less space is needed. Single person households will soon equal households made up of families. A large percentage of Millennials (people born between 1981 and 1997) don’t even own a car. Zip Cars and Uber are replacing the family car.

Millennials now number 75 million and are equal in size to Baby Boomers. They will make up 40% of eligible voters by 2020. Greenberg expects them to tilt the scale further to the left. However, young people have a habit of growing older and wiser—and more conservative in middle age, so we will see how this shakes out.

Overall, the demographic trends favor the Democrats, and the difference between the parties is expected to grow. Again, to quote Brooks, “Republicans must ask themselves, are we as a party willing to champion the new America that is inexorably rising around us, or are we going to recede in the rear view mirror of an America that is never coming back?”

Question: Donald Trump: Love him or hate him? Why?

Jerry Levine worked for Standard Oil and BP for over 30 years, working as an engineer and lobbyist later in his career. He has written book reviews for TMW for a decade.

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31 thoughts on “Republicans Ascendant?

  1. Steve Ignots

    This quote says it all: America is being fueled by revolutions in energy, immigration, innovation, big data, advanced manufacturing, and growth and change in metro areas. Democrats are aligned with the growing trends, while Republicans are fighting them. The GOP is the party of the oldest, most rural, most religiously observant, mostly married white voters. The GOP is barely considered by Millennials, the secular, the foreign born and people of color. The Party is not competitive in the country’s most dynamic growing metro areas. –

  2. John Bressoud

    On the Republican Party, they have lost control of their primary and they will pay the price.
    On Donald Trump. Trump is the new Hitler, Muslims are the new Jews.

    The scariest thing is that in a democracy we get the leadership we deserve.

      1. Bruskie

        Trump says kill their families, go into mosque’s, spy watch, follow and suspect. Bar from coming to USA. Not too far from “round up and isolate”. He says this about one group in particular. Sounds pretty Hitler-like to me!

      2. Harvey

        Hi Jack,

        I don’t mean this to be condescending, but even Hitler wasn’t “Hitler” until he became “Hitler.” The written and verbal history indicates that his views evolved to become much, much darker. If you go back to his statements and actions from the late 20s, you may be dismayed to find how very similar they are to Trump’s statements today.

      3. Mark Ellenberger

        Hitler, didn’t become powerful until after Germany was disarmed. Hitler had to have Gun control to control the masses. THEN!

  3. dt

    Our country is under attack….. open your eyes.

    Things were a certain way, once upon a time……… Things change, people change, technology changes, beliefs change.

    There are certain laws and beliefs we live by….. those must change sometimes in order to stay free and live in a safe country.

    Someone has moved your cheese….. you can’t keep going back to the same place looking for it…. someone took it, it not there!!!… move on and find new cheese.

  4. Bruskie

    Donald Trump is an attention junkie and a fear monger, plain and simple! Slipping in the poles, say something outrageous, horrible and offensive and you get all the attention you seek. At least in The Donald’s case. Many of the Trump supporters I talk to don’t know what party they stand for or why, they just know they like what Trump has to say and how he says it. I like and admire The Donald as a successful business man…..I cringe, as I have from the very beginning of his run for POTUS, when I think of him as the most powerful person in the world. The “why” should be obvious.

  5. allen

    Mr. Levine’s missing some very important trends/waves/forces to focus on the ephemeral and shallow.

    Faith in government is dropping. That’s observable in two trends; first is the dramatic reversal in American’s view of the Second Amendment.

    Whether it’s the growth of states with shall-issue CCW or in the total number of guns in private hands the previous, and carefully fostered, portrayal of gun owners as knuckle-dragging troglodytes is gone.

    The change in public attitude has had it’s effect in politics.

    President Obama, perhaps the most radically left wing president in American history has been entirely stymied in his efforts to encumber the Second Amendment and in no small part by his own party. If he believes himself immune to the wrath of gun owners many in his party don’t share that belief and aren’t anxious to have to try to run for office with that issue hanging over their heads.

    The second issue in which an erosion of faith in government is noticeable is in education.

    There’s hardly a state in the union in which there hasn’t been law passed that indicates a drop in faith in the public education system.

    Whether it’s charters or vouchers or education savings accounts, not to mention an end to tenure, teacher and school accountability testing, the evidence of the loss of faith in the public education system is everywhere.

    But while the signs have been around for quite a while, evidence Ron Reagan’s landslide second term win despite firing unionized air traffic controllers, we’re far from the end of the change and, in my humble opinion, closer to the beginning.

    The Republican party is in disarray, to the extent it is, because establishment Republicans are mired in a past in which looking like Democrat-lite was a credible route to elective success. It’s very much less so now but those establishment Republicans are stuck in the past.

    1. Harvey

      Allen, it is awfully hard to take you seriously when you write “…perhaps the most radically left wing president in American history…” The guy is more conservative that Nixon or Ike.

      1. Jack

        How can you put Obama and conservative is the same sentence.
        Obama hates conservatives. They are the enemy to him.

  6. Art Santana

    The Trump man is saying all the things many of us want to say but like most of us; he has no answers. He has yet to come with any viable solutions to any of the major issues.
    he needs attention and will do and say anything in order to get it. He will never be president.
    What I am most upset at him not dropping out of the race already and let some one else with a vision to confront Hillary. that in itself is practically giving the presidency to the democrats. We will continue to be the most divided country on earth.

  7. dt

    “Trump is the new Hitler, Muslims are the new Jews.”??… really?

    Were Jews blowing up and gunning down innocent Germans?

    America was fine pre 9-11….. minding our own business. But now, we can’t mind our own business….. they’re killing us……….. how many more killings will it take to realize we are at war and we need to start fighting?


    Better look at the parallels with the president we have now & hitler.
    A lot of the problem is we have forgotten our history, like hitler’s rise.
    Just like calling this a democracy; we are not.
    We are a republic.

  9. Bryan

    Greenberg is the typical arrogant condescending liberal I despise. He is so clever and smart how could anyone disagree with him? There is immigration and there are illegals, I am convinced Greenberg does not know the difference. Our country seems to be quite happy to exploit the illegals. We won’t close the borders nor will we allow them to obtain (before entering the country ) a legal status to work. So we end up with a group in society who do not pay taxes, and cannot sue if their employer does not follow US labor laws. Neither political party seems to have problem with this exploitation. Both Democrats and Republicans have generated plenty of dumb ideas. This is driving a lot of the Trump mania. Trump by the way is a Democrat who happens to be registered as a Republican. I do not like Trump and despise Hillary, can’t they both go away!

  10. Lloyd Graff

    I do not see Trump as Hitler, but he is so narcissistic that it drives him to make outrageous comments almost daily to keep the spotlight on him. He is tapping into the fears of Americans and it seems to adrenalize him to push the rhetoric toward the scary crazy place we are currently headed. He and his people seem to think they can always walk the talk back from the brink to keep Trunp a plausible candidate but his act is starting to wear thin, I think. Trump is not electable in the general election, but I don’t think the Donald believes that, or if he does, he doesn’t care because for him it is about the adulation and the thrill. The issues are really only about him to Trump. If you care about the country
    You have to be worried about the damage this kind of demogoguery can do. Not only will Hillary win the Presidency but we could sell see a Left wing sweep with implications much worse than Obama in 2008.

    1. Mark Ellenberger

      Read Trumps book,
      He’s following his own direction, taking outrageous stances on subjects and owning the media. He is the rating! He also uses this in his “deal making”. Go outrageous then settle for what you wanted in the first place.

      America is also at the 1929 cliff and whoever gets the next Presidency could condemn that party to a decades long banishment. Herbert Hoover was a Republican. If Hillary is in there for the Democrats when the wagon goes off the cliff then maybe we can take our country back.

      The only Republican that has a chance wire walking the cliff is Trump, even then the odds are astronomically weighed to fail no matter who gets it. It’s goin to take a pair!

  11. Bryan Willman

    Hmmm. Well, first, one could imagine Trump getting more or less kicked out of the republican party and responding by running as an independent. I think that would be fine so long as Bernie Sanders is required to do the same. Better yet, Trump and Sanders should be required to run on the same ticket.

    Second, if I remember my blog posts correctly, the best predictor of election results of late observes that at this point in the election cycle, everything is noise, and a real reading of voter views would be “undecided 90% …” followed by single digits for the others.

    And all of this illustrates a bizzare aspect of our electoral system – primary voters (not even the general population) in just two states have a powerful filtering effect on who can run for national office. This is peculiar to the presidency/vice presidency. When you mix it with an inordinately long and costly election process, it yields a great deal of very tiresome noise.

    There are various mechanisms that could fix it, but they’ll no more happen than that I win the lottery.

    1. Big Earl

      Donald Trump = Hilary’s Golden Goose for 2016 just like Ross Perot = Bill’s Ticket to Win in 1992 Slick Willy and the media have set this in motion for Trump to run as an Independent, then magically we get Hilary. So have no fear four (4) more years of total bliss. She will the reset button again. History always repeats it’s self.

  12. John vdLaar

    Trump and Carson have this in common: they are most decidedly NOT of the political class.

    The reality is other than the noises they make it is hard to tell the difference between Republicans and Democrats. But I still believe in the noise that comes out of the Republicans more than the noise coming out of Democrats.

    Democrats say they are the champions of the working man and the little guy, and yet whether by design or default, their policies inevitably benefit and strengthen the big at the expense of the little. All the while their populist message continues to seduce.

    Republicans get beat up for being champions of business, but they will lose for failing to differentiate themselves from the rest of the political class in Washington.

    What we need is a person able to lead by inspiring others to follow, a person able to stand against the headwind of populism and the inexorable growth of bureaucracy and entitlement that is becoming so firmly entrenched in our country.

    1. Jack

      I agree.
      The last 8 years have been so uninspiring.
      Regardless of policy, Obama is the absolute worst leader I have ever seen.
      Terrible, terrible, terrible.

      Who is that candidate?

  13. Frank Block


    As a business man, technical person, and moderate democrat, I’m not happy to see the Republican party continue to destroy itself. We need a two party system. My friends on the left need reasonable (read “moderate republican”) balance as do those (yes I have some) on the right.

    Chasing Muslims is nothing less than religious/racial profiling, and any religious or cultural minority knows what a short step that is to them also.

    1. Jack

      Moderate democrat? Didn’t know there was such a thing anymore.
      You are rare, compared to your so called democrat party.

  14. Erik

    What about Moderate Republicans? How are we served? The reality is that the vast majority of the country in a “Moderate” Something-or-other, and yet it’s the lunatic fringe that is on TV, spewing the kind of garbage Trump and Carson are spewing. I want small government, personal liberty, and low taxes. What I get is a “Christian”-based Social diatribe. And it’s not very Christian when you consider it.

    You want to debate social issues? How about you fix the economy first, and we’ll talk about abortion later? You want gun control? Too late! That genie is out of the bottle. But all you “representatives and senators”l seem to know how to make money for yourselves, so how about we apply that acumen to fixing the broken economy.

    But that’s not entertainment. That doesn’t play on the news or social media. What plays is a blowhard like Trump, saying crazy things. Talk about spreading the “Ugly American” stereotype.

    The choices on both sides stink. The top 4 Republicans are awful. Hillary Clinton? Come on. I can’t think of a more polarizing candidate. The rules don’t apply to her, just ask her. What we need is a “No Confidence” vote.

    And to those of you calling Obama the worst leader in history- you’re off by 8 years. Bloviate all you want, but Bush put us in Iraq on false pretenses. He went to war in 2 countries without funding it. First time in history we’ve gone to war without asking the taxpayer to fund it. The worst recession in history occurred on his watch, largely due to deregulation he supported, and was left to be corrected by the next guy. We’re digging out 7 years later. You’re a complete partisan puppet if you can’t own up to those simple, undeniable truths. I don’t like Obama. That doesn’t change history.

    The lens of history will focus the label of “Worst Ever” on George W. Bush, not Obama. He’ll be remembered as the first black president, and mediocre. But Bush owns the mess we’re in.

    Look at the candidates on both sides and explain to me how we are not doomed. You can’t. I wouldn’t let any of these buffoons watch my kids. I sure don’t want them with a finger on the button. Any of them.

    We are doomed to more ineptitude and poor management if we don’t do something. What should we do? That ship may have sailed, too.

    1. bruskie

      Great point Erik. However, I would allow Bernie Sanders or Mike Huckabee to watch my children All the rest…..NO WAY.

  15. Big Earl

    Donald Trump = Hilary’s Golden Goose for 2016 just like Ross Perot = Bill’s Ticket to Win in 1992 Slick Willy and the media have set this in motion for Trump to run as an Independent, then magically we get Hilary. So have no fear four (4) more years of total bliss. She will push the reset button again. History always repeats it’s self.


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