“When pigs fly” is an adynaton, a way of saying that something will never happen. As in, Steve Schmidt – the savvy Republican strategist who guided campaigns for George W. Bush, Arnold Schwarzenegger and John McCain – will repudiate his membership in the GOP “when pigs fly.”
This just in: The swine are airborne.
Tuesday night, Schmidt let loose the following tweetstorm:
29 years and nine months ago I registered to vote and became a member of The Republican Party which was founded in 1854 to oppose slavery and stand for the dignity of human life. Today I renounce my membership in the Republican Party. It is fully the party of Trump.
I have spent much of my life working in GOP politics. I have always believed that both parties were two of the most important institutions to the advancement of human freedom and dignity in the history of the world. Today the GOP has become a danger to our democracy and values.
This Independent voter will be aligned with the only party left in America that stands for what is right and decent and remains fidelitous to our Republic, objective truth, the rule of law and our Allies. That party is the Democratic Party.
The rise of neo-fascist authoritarianism, represented by the likes of Steven Miller and Kirstjen Nielsen, the yawning corruption of the likes of Scott Pruitt and Wilbur Ross, not to mention the kakistocracy created by President E. Molument Clause himself, finally was too much for Schmidt.
Trump’s family separation policy – which was so toxic he pretended to reverse it with an executive order on Thursday – was the final straw for Schmidt, whose one-time hunger for GOP victory led him to urge McCain to choose the vile and idiotic Sarah Palin as his vice-presidential running mate.
This child separation policy is connected to the worst abuses of humanity in our history. It is connected by the same evil that separated families during slavery and dislocated tribes and broke up Native American families. It is immoral and must be repudiated. Our country is in trouble. Our politics are badly broken.
The first step to a season of renewal in our land is the absolute and utter repudiation of Trump and his vile enablers in the 2018 election by electing Democratic majorities.
Will Schmidtism spread? He’s in good company, following in the footsteps of George Will, Jennifer Rubin, Richard Painter and many others who, according to an analysis of Gallup Poll data by Emory University’s Zachary Peskowitz for commentator E.J. Dionne, have caused the proportion of Americans who call themselves Republican to decline from 32.7 percent before the 2016 election to 28.6 percent in late May to mid-June.
As an electoral matter, there’s also preliminary evidence that Schmidt may be the tip of the spear in a mid-term movement of Actual Conservatives abandoning Trumpism and rooting for the other team, as Matt Lewis noted in the Daily Beast:
As Trumpism becomes harder for Reagan conservatives to abide, an almost sacrilegious notion has begun to pop up on the right: For the good of conservatism (and America), Democrats must win the mid-terms…
These are not people who want to burn it all down for the sake of burning it all down, even if their strategy sounds something akin to the “We had to destroy the village in order to save it” trope. Instead, these are real-life conservatives who have reached the end of their ropes. And they are presenting perfectly rational reasons why electoral defeat might be the last best chance for purging the part of Reagan from its newfound Trumpist impulses.
The goal is to force an awakening—a sort of defibrillation treatment–that might shock the GOP back to its senses.
Legend in our own minds. Alas, Schmidt would not be shedding his Republican Party persona if the national and California GOP had just taken the friendly advice Calbuzz offered in the wake of the disastrous 2010 general election in California in which Jerry (Gandalf) Brown stomped eMeg Whitman in the governor’s race.
Here’s part of what we said then (when registered Republicans still outnumbered independents in California):
We don’t want Republicans to become Democrats — we want Republicans to become relevant.
So that there is a vigorous contest of ideas in California politics. Right now, Republicans are so trapped in their ideological hall of mirrors that they have become a distorted caricature of themselves. They can thump their chests and win big attaboys at the California Republican Assembly convention. But they utterly fail to reflect the impulses of the vast majority of California voters who tend to be fiscally conservative and socially moderate.
Republicans believe in smaller government, lower taxes, reduced regulation, economic growth, individual freedom and law and order, to name a few GOP values.
They should continue to stand and fight for all of those. But they need to build all that into a platform that begins with a realistic growth agenda. Investments in roads, bridges, dams and/or levees, water projects, schools and universities, redevelopment projects, ports – all these things and more – are wholly consistent with their philosophical world view. Their fixation on opposing everything the Democrats propose is hurting them more than it is helping them.
Republicans could become leading advocates of an economic rebound strategy that relies on Silicon Valley innovation, green jobs, high-tech research and development. They could integrate this with increased exports for a growing agricultural sector and a healthy and expanding service economy.
They don’t have to continually serve the interests of the wealthiest 2% of California families – they can focus of the struggling middle class. And they need to remember that California is not Kentucky or Alaska or any other state where the so-called “tea party” is a big deal. In California, tea party ideology is a non-started,
In particular we suggested the California GOP (and the national Republican Party if they’d listen) should change their position on pathway to citizenship, get behind green jobs and environmental conservation, develop their political bench, re-calibrate their position on abortion and sound sensible not strident.
Bottom line. Sadly, not only has the Republican Party not made itself relevant in California, it has doubled down on its irrational exuberance for wing-nut extremism, further driving away voters to the point where the latest data from the California Secretary of State show GOP registration is now 25.1 percent – not only trailing the Democrats’ 44.4 percent, but also the steadily increasing share of Californians self-identified as No Party Preference independents, now 25.5 percent.
And so, the GOP now has an implacable critic in Schmidt, who sees shame far beyond Trump himself. “The party of Lincoln, of Eisenhower, of Reagan, it’s dead,” he tweeted the other day. “And the people who killed it are Paul Ryan, Mitch McConnell and dozens of other complicit cowards.”