Hillary Clinton will almost certainly be the next President of the United States. It may be a difficult pill to swallow, but Republicans will have to come to terms with this reality sooner or later. And as with 2012, the post-election environment will be one ripe with reflection and analysis. But it will also likely be ripe with conflict.
In 2012, after Mitt Romney lost the presidential election to Barack Obama, the RNC issued a post-mortem in which it stated; “It is time to smartly change course, modernize the Party, and learn once again how to appeal to more people, including those who share some but not all of our conservative principles.”
Yet this recommendation (among the many others in the hundred-page report) went largely unheeded over the last four years. Since the release of the report, the Republican Party has seen the rise of the ideologically puritanical House Freedom Caucus, the ouster of its pragmatic speaker John Boehner, the rise of Donald Trump, and the demonization of its current speaker Paul Ryan. None of these developments within the GOP seem to take the advice of the 2012 report in kind. In fact, they spit in the faces of its authors, light it ablaze, and stamp out its ashes with a jackboot. Instead of seeing a modernized and welcoming party they hoped for after the 2012 election, the RNC has seen the Republican Party taken over by overzealous hard-liners.
Come November 9, Republicans will face a similar and difficult question: where do we go from here?
Do we look back at this election with shrugged shoulders and a sad sense of helplessness as our party falls to the self-serving populism of Donald Trump and his cronies? Do we talk about changing for the better as we did in 2012, only to do nothing to stop the rise of toxicity and exclusionary self-righteousness among our party’s radical wings? Or do we look to real solutions, unite under our leadership, and enact real reform?
Speaker Ryan and the Republican leadership have already come out with a proposal for a better way forward as a country. The only question this: will let our differences divide us and let our policies drive away key demographics we need to survive, will we band together to defeat the Democrats for the benefits of the American people? Time will have to tell.