WASHINGTON – I really like Paul Ryan; but I am skeptical about his ability to bring order, cohesion and a sense of shared purpose among the House Republicans. I wish him well in his new job as House Speaker. But I doubt that he can succeed. Not because he is not smart, but because the Republican Party is now a horrible mess. It is a composite of some moderates, religious fanatics and fiscal radicals with insane ideas. You put all of them in the same room, and they will agree on almost nothing when it comes to policies and priorities.
Ryan is a good man
Paul Ryan is a principled, smart and humane conservative. He really understands the challenges facing America. He really understands the Federal Budget, fiscal policy issues, and the pressing need to reform all major entitlement programs.
And this is not just about cutting costs. He has good ideas about how to reformulate welfare programs so that they do not continue to be part of a perverse trap of perpetual, multi-generational poverty and perpetual dependence on modest public assistance.
There is no doubt that Ryan is intelligent, capable and energetic. But I am not sure about his ability to recreate unity among the House Republicans, so that they can work together and create a credible alternative to the tired, and yet still appealing, slogans of the left.
This is not about Ryan’s leadership and skills. This is about hopeless ideological animosities among House Republicans that make lasting agreements on just about anything next to impossible.
Donald Trump leads
More broadly, if we look at the potential Republican voters as the primaries season begins to shape up, one should get even more worried. The very notion of Donald Trump as a serious candidate for President should make people laugh.
But here is the thing. Donald Trump is a candidate for the Republican nomination, and he is leading in all the polls. His numbers are not staggering. But with about 25% he has a comfortable lead on everybody else. And this includes former Florida Governor Jeb Bush, by all accounts an accomplished policy-maker with stellar credentials on key issues such as public education and immigration reform.
But would-be voters are uninterested in policy. Bush barely gets a nod from a few moderates, and he is now relegated to the second tier of improbable candidates, with very few chances of breaking out.
Tough guy, with Instant solutions
The fact is that a sizable number of Republicans are now literally unhinged. They are not interested in real world policy choices, and they have little interest in the complicated process that is necessary to make things happen.
They want “The Man with Magic Formulas”. They want stuff done –today. They want all the illegal immigrants out, (that’s 11 million people); and Trump –a Real No-Nonsense Guy– in the White House, so that he will be able to outsmart the Chinese, the Russians and the Japanese because –you know– he is a tough negotiator.
Never mind that the American constitutional make up, (with divided powers and a complex system of checks and balances), makes instant change virtually impossible. These voters are willing to listen to Trump because –despite the Constitution– he promises immediate results. And they just love his swagger and braggadocio.
Leading in all the polls
And so Trump is way ahead, (for the moment anyway), because he promises to make America Great, because he is irreverent, openly offensive regarding all his opponents, and “good on TV”. Never mind that his speeches are a mixture of semi-incoherent stream of consciousness free associations, invective, and grandiose promises. A sizable number of would-be GOP voters (about 25%) like this stuff and obviously like this style.
And so, here is the irony. The GOP won the 2014 mid-term elections, by a large margin. And yet the Republican Party at the national level is so divided and so immature that it cannot produce credible leaders, leaders who can translate real credentials into national appeal. And so, reality TV hero Trump is up. Two terms Florida Governor Bush is down, and probably out.
Soon to be Speaker Paul Ryan will do his very best to unite the House Republicans. I wish him well; but I doubt that he can succeed. Again, not because he lacks talent; but simply because this looks like “Mission Impossible”, given the depth of the internal ideological divisions within the GOP.
If Trump is the nominee, Clinton will be the next President
And if we look at the upcoming 2016 presidential elections, if Donald Trump gets the Republican Party nomination, (this is now becoming a distinct possibility), we can rest assured that Hillary Clinton, (unless she is indicted because of her “private e-mail server problems”), will be the next President.
Clinton is not insane, thank God for that. But she has proven to be opportunistic and coldly unprincipled. In this campaign she has calculated that she needed to re-engineer herself as a left of center candidate, in order to please those who want more state interventions, more public spending, more welfare programs, and higher taxes for the rich. Not a good prospect for America.
Clinton is a real politician
If Donald Trump is preposterous, Clinton is real. If the choice is between her and Trump, she will get elected. If this is the case, following 8 years of anti-growth Obama policies, her left wing agenda will continue to drag the US down into a future of Europe-like welfare and global irrelevance.
Again, not a good prospect for America.