Dead Presidents

Historical facts, thoughts, ramblings and collections on the Presidency and about the Presidents of the United States.

By Anthony Bergen
E-Mail: bergen.anthony@gmail.com
Posts tagged "Republican Party"
I know you've touched on this in past posts, but is the GOP really suicidal enough to run Jeb Bush against Mrs. Bill Clinton? I would love to see a conservative win in 2016 but I cannot envision a third member of the Bush clan swinging enough moderates to compete with her. I would think Romney round 2 would be a better call than Bush^3.
deadpresidents deadpresidents Said:

No, I don’t think that it would be suicidal at all.  I think Jeb Bush is the best possible candidate that the Republicans can put forth in 2016, and I think that he’s the only GOP contender who might be able to hang with Hillary Clinton.  Ideologically, Jeb Bush is far more similar to his father than his brother, and I believe that he’s the only possible GOP candidate (unless the Republicans nominate Jon Huntsman — like they SHOULD) who can lock down the support of moderates.  Bush would have trouble with the hardcore conservatives in his party, but if the GOP wants to have a chance in 2016, they’ll need to rally behind a candidate who might be able to…you know…win…and Bush is their best shot (and, even then, it’s no sure thing).

Romney has been adamant that he’s not running for President again and that he doesn’t imagine any sort of of draft changing his mind.  Because of the guy that Romney is, I believe that he doesn’t want to run again, but I also think he’d accept a draft if he felt it was his duty to serve his party and country.  And despite Romney’s defeats in the 2008 GOP primaries and the 2012 general election, I think he’s probably the strongest possible Republican candidate in 2016 (if he did change his mind and run) besides Jeb Bush.

Asker Anonymous Asks:
The challenger who tried to unseat Thad Cochran in MS blamed his defeat in the primary runoff to democrats who voted in the primary and helped Cochran win. What do you think of that possibility and should elections like that be overturned?
deadpresidents deadpresidents Said:

Mississippi’s two U.S. Senate seats have been in the hands of Republicans for over a quarter-century — and in the case of Cochran, it’s been held by a Republican (him) for over 35 years.  Mississippi voters recognize that a Democrat isn’t winning that seat anytime soon and if they want to actually make a difference in the election of someone who represents all of them, crossing over and voting for the lesser of two evils (to Democrats and most African-Americans) between the two Republican candidates is their only opportunity to make that difference.  The GOP Senate primary in Mississippi basically decides the general election since the winner is virtually guaranteed to beat the Democratic nominee in November.  When there is a threat of someone like Chris McDaniel — someone who Democrats and African-Americans in Mississippi disagreed with so strongly that they actively supported Thad F’ing Cochran (!) — winning a primary election that would basically clinch him a seat in the U.S. Senate for the next six years, I think it’s a wonderful display of our political system when voters organize themselves in a way that allows them some measure of self-determination.  I don’t know why an election in which that happens would be overturned.  Nobody broke any voting laws and Mississippians were exercising their franchise in the best way possible — to make sure that they played a part in voting for the person they wanted to represent them.

Incidentally, this type of crossover should open the eyes of any groups or people who wonder about the feasibility of creating a new third political party.  It’s one thing if voters are just flat-out fed up and stay home because they don’t care about the candidates, they don’t see any reason to actually go to the polls, and they just don’t care.  But these voters in Mississippi clearly care very much about who is going to represent them. The voters who crossed over are so concerned about who is elected to serve their interests that they went to the polls and voted against someone that they’ve probably voted against throughout their lives in order to have some influence in the political process.  People want alternatives, but the extremists on both sides of the aisle that both Democrats and Republicans actually put forward as alternatives are so unappealing that voters settle for the incumbents that they don’t really like — and, in the case of yesterday’s Mississippi Senate primary, many voters supported an incumbent just because they disagreed with him less than they disagreed with the other guy.  

Every region of this country is ready for a backlash against incumbents as long as the alternative isn’t an extremist.  This nation is ripe for a moderate third political party that draws in independents and the frustrated Democrats and Republicans who don’t really identify with those parties as they stand today.  Building a third party takes time and money, but it can be done and it should be done.  If a third party is organized efficiently in each state and then coordinated on national level, a third party can grow and be successful.  It’s not going to result in a third party candidate being elected President right away, but building the party and coordinating it effectively so that the party earns name-recognition and ballot access will allow the new party to elect candidates on a state level and start making progress.  Two to six years in and that new party would hold seats in Congress and State Legislatures, grab a few Governorships, and be able to position itself for a serious run for the Presidency.  It needs to happen.  The country is ready for it now. 

Asker Anonymous Asks:
Obviously Romney's not going to run again for a number of reasons, but if he did, do you think he could/would snatch the nomination again? He's doing well in NH polling and there aren't a lot of moderate-wing candidates on the roster.
deadpresidents deadpresidents Said:

I don’t think he’d even have to “snatch” the Republican nomination.  If Jeb Bush doesn’t run for President, the only Republican who would have any shot at beating Hillary Clinton and winning the election is Mitt Romney.  Believe it or not, if Hillary Clinton shockingly decided not to run, I think Mitt Romney could very well be the front-runner, Republican or Democrat — and that might be enough to convince him to go through everything again and take another shot at running.

Otherwise, I doubt he would put himself and his family through another Presidential campaign that might end in loss.  The campaign itself is punishing, and that’s without even factoring in how devastating it is to lose. Romney and his family have dealt with losses in a primary campaign (2008) and a general election (2012), and I don’t see them doing that again unless there’s a really, really, REALLY clear indication that he’d do better than he did against Obama.  

There are a lot of people — even people who didn’t vote for Mitt Romney — who are now wishing he would have won the 2012 election.  I imagine there will be a lot of hope or nostalgia for Romney to run again in 2016, especially as the Republican field starts to battle for the GOP nomination and it becomes obvious how sub-standard many of the leading “contenders” are.  If Jeb Bush runs, he should set himself apart from that field quickly.  If he doesn’t run, a lot of people are going to urge a “Draft Romney” effort.  It’ll be interesting to see what happens and Romney as the GOP savior (for the Republican Party, not the country) can’t be totally discounted, but I think Jeb Bush will run in 2016 and give the Republicans somebody who at least won’t lose to Hillary by 400 electoral votes.

Asker Anonymous Asks:
Did LBJ Republicans exist? What kind of people were they?
deadpresidents deadpresidents Said:

Well, they weren’t really identified as such (like “Reagan Democrats), but there had to be some traditional Republican voters who supported LBJ in 1964 because he won 61% of the popular vote — it’s still the biggest margin of victory in the popular vote in American history.  

Goldwater definitely took the GOP far to the right in 1964 and many moderate Republicans were unhappy with the prospect of voting for him. That — and the civil rights legislation and Great Society progams of LBJ’s Administration shifted the status of the Republican and Democratic parties from that point on.  The states of the Solid South — which had been traditionally Democratic since before the Civil War and anti-Republican since the time of Abraham Lincoln — shifted to the Republican column with the appearance of more Conservative GOP candidates.  Some of the blue-collar areas of the Northeast, Midwest, and Mountain West, which had been a stronghold of moderate or progressive Republicans for years began shifting to Democratic.  When people talk of the two major parties “switching places”, this is what they normally mean.  They didn’t necessarily switch places, but they evolved into different versions of what they previously were, largely in the area of social issues.

"LBJ Republicans" would have been traditional Republicans like those in Vermont and Maine who normally went with the GOP but were so turned off by Goldwater that the states not only went to LBJ in 1964 but they’re now solidly Democratic.  "LBJ Republicans" could also be found in Midwestern and Mountain West states that had long had a history of electing progressive or moderate Republican Senators.  Those Senators also played an integral part in passing LBJ’s civil rights and Great Society legislation that the Democratic Senators from the previously Solid South were vehemently opposed to.  As the GOP became more Conservative, many of those progressive and moderate Republicans Senators either switched parties or ended up losing their seats to challengers as the population of their state shifted to the right and further away from their traditional ideology.

Asker Anonymous Asks:
If Jeb Bush doesn't get the GOP nomination in 16, who do you think is the most likely to get it?
deadpresidents deadpresidents Said:

I don’t have a clue.  None of the other Republicans frequently mentioned as possible contenders for the nomination in 2016 have a chance at winning a Presidential election and I can’t even fathom how some of them could even be nominated.  If Jeb Bush doesn’t run, I can imagine the other candidates diminishing each other because of the size of the field and the lack of any standouts and just battling each other to a stalemate that results in a brokered convention.  I have no idea who would emerge victorious from that scenario, but it most likely wouldn’t be one of the main candidates going into the convention.  Honestly, if that happened, the GOP seriously would be better off organizing a Draft Mitt Romney movement and nominating him again.  If Jeb Bush doesn’t run, the Republicans are going to have a very rough 2016.

Asker Anonymous Asks:
re: your answer about the GOP: since Eisenhower isn't alive what would you advise frustrated Republicans like me unhappy for many of the reasons you stated?
deadpresidents deadpresidents Said:

Fight.  Take back your damn party.

It doesn’t require an Eisenhower.  It requires passion, organization, and time.  It’s like a campaign to take back your party so that you can maybe win another campaign someday.  Listen, I’m a Democrat, so it seems like I’d be fine with the GOP basically forfeiting Presidential elections to my side every four years, but I also want my country to work and it isn’t working this way.  Republicans can win local elections and state elections in various regions.  But the Republicans currently controlling the party and the Republicans most often cited as Presidential contenders in 2016 cannot and will not win a national election.  Not in 2016, not ever.  Maybe someone will be able to pull off a popular vote majority, but they will never win an Electoral College victory. 

The thing is, the Republican Party realizes this.  That’s why they eventually nominate people like Mitt Romney and John McCain, neither of whom were crazy or unreasonable.  The problem is that the GOP puts them through a circus of debates and primaries against so many nutjobs that they are tainted by association.  They look ridiculous by being placed on the same level as a Rick Santorum, Herman Cain, Ron Paul, or Michelle Bachmann.

If you’re a real Republican and you care about your party and country, do what I suggested Dwight Eisenhower would do about the GOP if he were alive today, and fight to take it back.  Reclaim the Republican Party.  Please!  Even though I’m a Democrat, I want you to succeed.

Asker Anonymous Asks:
If Dwight Eisenhower were a politician today do you think he would still be a Republican?
deadpresidents deadpresidents Said:

I think the better question is if Dwight Eisenhower and Herbert Hoover and Richard Nixon and Gerald Ford were in politics today, would they have allowed batshit crazy extremists who have NO chance of ever winning a national election to hijack the Republican Party? 

No, they would not have allowed that.  Because Eisenhower, Hoover, Nixon, and Ford were leaders.  And the GOP doesn’t have any leaders right now.  That’s why hey have to have a 15-person Royal Rumble every four years to decide on their Presidential nominee.  That’s why they haven’t elected a President not named “Bush” since 1984 — 1984!  If JFK hadn’t been assassinated, he would have been 67 years old in 1984 — the same age Hillary Clinton will be this year.  That’s the last time the Republicans nominated someone not named “Bush” who could win a Presidential election.  And the most reasonable of the rumored 2016 GOP contenders is the guy with that same last name, too.

The question isn’t if so-and-so would be a Republican if they were around today; it is who does the Republican Party belong to?  What does it stand for?  What country does it really believe it represents?  Where is Lincoln’s Republican Party?  Where is Theodore Roosevelt’s Republican Party?  Eisenhower’s Republican Party?  Hell, where is NIXON’s Republican Party?  Because I don’t know many people who today’s GOP represents, and I’m certainly not close with anybody who represents today’s Republican Party because those aren’t the type of people I surround myself with.  The GOP had an identity that I might not have agreed with, but I respected it and Republicans could be proud of it.  They were the party which helped make Civil Rights a reality — not just with Lincoln, but by delivering the votes that LBJ needed in 1964 and 1965 to offset the Southern Democrats.  Today, if the GOP has an identity — and they don’t, I don’t know what they truly stand for, I just know what they are adamantly opposed to — it’s that they are the dysfunctional family that thinks Rand Paul, Ted Cruz, Rick Perry, Scott Walker, and Rick Santorum are viable contenders for the Presidency.

So, this is a long way of saying, yes, Dwight Eisenhower would be a Republican if he were active in politics today.  Why?  Because Dwight Eisenhower was a warrior and a true leader.  Dwight Eisenhower believed in himself, in his ideals, and in this country and the American people.  And if Dwight Eisenhower were around today, he’d take charge of the Republican Party, clear out the crazies, stand his ground, and say, "I am a Republican.  This is what the Republican Party represents.  And you — Rand Paul, Ted Cruz, Rick Perry, Scott Walker, Rick Santorum, Jim DeMint, Mike Lee, Cory Gardner, Raul Labrador, Dan Burton, David Vitter, Michele Bachmann, Tim Scott, Eric Cantor, etc, etc, etc — are NOT Republicans. Give us back our party so we can make our country work again."

Asker Anonymous Asks:
Do you think Ben Carson has any chance for nomination?
deadpresidents deadpresidents Said:

No, definitely not.

Asker Anonymous Asks:
Do you think Jeb Bush is too moderate to get the republican nomination in 16?
deadpresidents deadpresidents Said:

Not if the Republicans want to avoid another four years of Democratic control of the Executive Branch.  Moderates may have difficulty winning the GOP nomination, but not a single one of the Conservatives rumored to be considering Presidential bids in 2016 can win a national election.  The Electoral College favors moderates and the Electoral College is the only thing that matters in a Presidential election.  If the GOP nominates Rand Paul or Rick Perry, they might as well concede the election at the Republican National Convention because candidates like Paul and Perry can win a local election or a state election in certain parts of the country, but they can’t win 50 state elections taking place the same day throughout the nation — and that’s what a Presidential election is.  It’s not one big election; it’s 50 regional elections.

Asker bbkld Asks:
So how do you view Reagan's challenge of Ford in 1976? I think if RR had been patient, GF would have been re-elected and RR would have been POTUS in 1980, anyway. The 1976 challenge seemed like a political misstep from a smart politician known for caring about his public perception.
deadpresidents deadpresidents Said:

I agree.  Especially for the guy who always talked about the “Thou shall not speak ill of any fellow Republican”, Reagan really should have shown more respect to President Ford, been patient, and supported the leader of his party.  Historians talk of the Nixon pardon destroying Ford’s chances of being elected in his own right in 1976, and it certainly didn’t help, but what really beat Ford in 1976 was the challenge from Reagan and the right-wing of the GOP.  Ford had to move to his right to meet the challenge, made a move that he regretted for the rest of his life when he dumped Vice President Rockefeller as his running mate for Bob Dole to placate the conservatives, and had to spend all spring and plenty of money just to win his own party’s nomination.  Ford was spent by the time the Republican National Convention rolled around, stumbled during the general election against Jimmy Carter, and yet, he still barely lost the 1976 election.  Also, after the GOP Convention, Reagan really should have been out campaigning for Ford instead of nursing his wounds.

It’s said that Reagan himself was hesitant about challenging Ford in 1976 and that he was pushed into it by Nancy Reagan and his top political advisors.  They were worried that four more years of Ford would cause fatigue for Republican leadership and make it more difficult to win in 1980.  They were also worried that Reagan would lose some of his luster because he was already 65 years old in 1976 and his term as Governor of California had ended in 1975, removing a powerful platform for politicking.

But I agree that, even if Ford had won in 1976, Reagan would have almost certainly been elected in 1980 anyway.  Because Ford had served more than two years of Richard Nixon’s unfinished second term after he assumed the Presidency following Nixon’s resignation, Ford would have been term-limited in 1980 and Constitutionally ineligible to run for President again.  Reagan would have been the front-runner in 1980, no matter what.

In the end, of course, it worked out well for Reagan, but it was a pretty shitty way to treat Ford who had helped restore faith and trust in the Presidency in the wake of the Watergate scandal.  Ford deserved the Republican Party’s support in 1976 after all that he had done, and he deserved loyalty from Reagan and the conservative wing of the GOP that was just unwilling to offer it and impatient about electing Reagan.

Ford was understandably stung by the entire ordeal in 1976. Anybody who ever knew or met Gerald Ford talked about how kind and gentlemanly he was, mentioned that nobody ever said a bad thing about him, and noted how his optimism and how well he got along with even his political rivals. But the challenge from Reagan in 1976 left him bitter about it for the rest of his life and he blamed Reagan for his loss to Carter in ‘76 more than anyone or anything else. Even then, being the good Republican that he was, Ford wholeheartedly supported Reagan publicly in 1980 and campaigned for him — despite personal animosity over Reagan’s 1976 challenge and Ford’s own deep-seated fears that Reagan simply wasn’t suited for the job of President.

Asker Anonymous Asks:
would you say that the Bush family is elected because of their name
deadpresidents deadpresidents Said:

It certainly doesn’t hurt.  

Listen, I certainly have my issues with George W. Bush, but stop and think about this for a second:  Maybe the Bush family gets elected because they are the only Republican candidates capable of capturing some moderates and conservative Democrats in a national election because, to a lot of reasonable people, the GOP is frighteningly extremist and out-of-touch.  Is that possible?  This country hasn’t elected a Republican President not named “Bush” in THIRTY YEARS.

In last week’s cover story, Chris Christie’s Loss Is (Someone’s Gain), Politico Magazine asked leading Republicans and Conservative thinkers who might be able to take advantage of the troubles facing New Jersey Governor Chris Christie and become the frontrunner for the Republican Presidential nomination in 2016. Many of those who answered mentioned people like Jeb Bush, Marco Rubio, Paul Ryan, or Scott Walker.

Except for Tom Ridge. The former Governor of Pennsylvania and first Secretary of Homeland Security gave the best answer, the smartest answer, the right answer — the answer which should make Republicans wonder, “What about Tom Ridge?”:

With due respect to your premise, I’d prefer we focus on our party’s message, not our messenger. If Republicans wants to govern, we must win national elections. To do so, the narcissists and ideologues within our party need to understand that Americans are more conservative than liberal, but are more practical than ideological and more tolerant and open-minded than judgmental. They are also looking for real, not rhetorical solutions. Let’s focus on the message now and the messenger later. If we don’t get the former right, the latter won’t matter.

I had read repeatedly that I was the most conservative President since Herbert Hoover. My feeling was, if that’s true, damn it, the extreme right wing ought to be satisfied. But the truth is they never are unless they lock you in to a little ideological circle that is a miniscule number of voters in the American public. Regardless of the political consequences, I knew that I had to call them as I saw them from the nation’s point of view and at the same time from my own political experience. The facts of life are that satisfying the extreme right dooms any Republican in a Presidential election.

Gerald Ford, on his refusal to cater to the far right-wing of the Republican Party during the 1976 Presidential campaign