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The GOP Ignored Our Advice and Lost Steve Schmidt

Thursday, June 21st, 2018

Flying_Pig“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:

Steve-Schmidt29 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.

millergoebbelsThe 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.

richardpainterWill 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.

calbuzzartLegend 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.

ElephantSadBottom 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.”

Hog aeronautics.

Ex-Insurance Boss Poizner Seeks Non-Partisan Re-do

Tuesday, June 19th, 2018

poiznerWin or lose in November, Steve Poizner already has made history.

Poizner, a 61-year old Silicon Valley zillionaire, finished first in the June 5 balloting for Insurance Commissioner — the first political independent ever to qualify for election to state office in California.

His victory, with 42 percent in a four-candidate field, carries huge political significance, a groundbreaking achievement in an election that marked the decline of the once-mighty California Republican Party to third-place status in the state.

Pre-primary figures show GOP registration – 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.

LonelyElephantSound of his own drummer? Cue the sound of the late President Reagan whirling in his Simi Valley resting place.

“If I can pioneer this path of demonstrating that you can run as an independent and win, it will open the door for other people who don’t want to be partisan warriors, but just want to serve,” Poizner said in a telephone interview with Calbuzz. “And if I do, it’ll be a very disruptive thing, in a positive way.”

First, however, the new champion of non-partisan politics faces a big, awkward political obstacle: his own words and record as a slashing partisan Republican.

The back-story. Political enthusiasts will recognize Poizner as the correct answer to a California trivia question: Who is the only Republican not named Schwarzenegger elected to statewide office in the 21st century?

In 2006, he captured the same office he now seeks, when he campaigned for Insurance Commissioner as an old-school, moderate Republican, stomped a Democratic hack and then applied his entrepreneurial skills, honed while making a private sector fortune in GPS technology, to one term in office.

Four years later, he blundered. Badly.

poiznervpoiznerUnder the old party-line primary system, Poizner reinvented himself as a fierce right-wing warrior to campaign for governor. He bashed Republican rival Meg Whitman, the eventual GOP nominee, as squishy soft on immigration, demanded an end to education and health care benefits for “illegal aliens,” called for National Guard troops to patrol the Mexican border and even backed a controversial Arizona law requiring people to carry proof of citizenship or legal status.

Born-again on immigration Given the shift in California’s political dynamics — where a strong majority of voters believes undocumented immigrants should be provided a pathway to legal residence and even citizenship — it’s not surprising that Poizner has since  jettisoned his retrograde stance on immigration.

“I wish I had the 2010 campaign to do over again,” Poizner said, “because I no longer think my views (expressed then) on what to do with undocumented folks make any sense. And I regret it.”

johnkasich“The solution that I concur with is similar to (Ohio) Gov. (John) Kasich’s which is if you’re undocumented here in California then we should put you on a pathway to become documented. If you a dreamer, we should put you on a pathway to become a citizen. That’s what I believe.”

Was his decision to run as an independent a rejection of the Republican Party? Calbuzz asked him.

“No,” Poizner said. “Do you feel fully in tune with the Republican Party still?” we asked.

“I wouldn’t say that necessarily,” he said. “I personally don’t have any interest in partisan battles. Not where I am right now. I am interested in being a problem solver for California. I think it would be really great if California had a super strong two-party system. We don’t. We have a monopoly going on there. I think offering more viable choices to voters would be a great thing.”

He said he doesn’t really have a problem with the Republican Party — whose voters he’ll need if he hopes to win in November — but partisanship is just not his thing right now. When push comes to shove, it sounds to us like Poizner is at heart a Kasich Republican (he worked to elect him president in 2016) masquerading, posing, functioning — for now — as an independent.

ricardolaraAnd in this corner. Alas for Poizner, his 2010 harbinger of Trump performance will be recycled incessantly by general election foe and Democratic state Senator Ricardo Lara of Long Beach, seeking to make history himself, as California’s first openly gay statewide office holder.

“I’m glad he repents what he said,” a poker-faced Lara recently told political writer Joe Garafoli. “It’s an important part of his coming to terms with the new political reality.”

While disowning his own right-wing adventurism, Poizner remains mindful that he can’t win as an independent without attracting Republicans, no matter how toxic the Trump and GOP brands are in California, along with NPPs and moderate Democrats, as well.

Thus he conspicuously tap dances around questions seeking his views about the current occupant of the White House.

After Poizner outlined his affinity for Kasich, Calbuzz asked: ”So you don’t really have a problem with the Republican Party – you have a problem with Trumpism?”

“I wouldn’t put it that way,” Poizner replied. “I have a problem with all the problems that aren’t getting solved in California. I wouldn’t put the burden of being responsible for all those problems on one party of the other. Or one person or the other.”

Bottom line. As a practical matter, immigration and most other hot button issues have little to do with being Insurance Commissioner, a low-profile but powerful autonomous gig overseeing 1,400 employees, a $250 million budget and a $300 billion insurance sector, the fifth largest insurance market in the world.

So despite his historic quest, Poizner cautiously focuses on specific and technical aspects of the job, desperate to avoid involvement in the bitter tribal and cultural wars Trump has ignited across the nation.

Which is why he argues: “There’s no room for partisan politics at the Department of Insurance.”

Unless you’re a partisan.