The GOP focus needs to shift back to GOP
Its going to be 250 years to the idea of the USA. Due a power vacuum of 8 straight years, GOP did the unthinkable. Thanks to self-bombing of the Democrats and hated/loved electoral college system, GOP is now relishing power in all three strata. There is a big problem ahead for GOP, that is its own existence. It is actually not quite apparent for now given nearly 52% are still okay with the current status of #MAGA campaign on twitter polls. While the nationalistic approach is a sure footed strategy for any people-oriented political party, GOP has more on its plate than a simple nationalistic agenda. Trump has become GOP and GOP has become Trump.
One of the problems of USA political pundits is that they do not actually study ( or do not care about!) other democracies. Other problem is that those who study do not get to sit on FOX or CNN discussion panels. The phenomenon that USA press is so baffled about has happened numerous times in India. Trump in that sense is an amalgamation of Indira Gandhi, Narendra Modi, Mulayam Singh, Lalu Prasad Yadav and the most hated Digvijay Singh and Kapil Sibal of India. That is a lot of characters in one and then there is True Trump himself. If one analyzes how these characters affected/are affecting the history of Indian democracy, it can help gauge the seismic change Trump can bring upon the GOP.
First is the obvious, a lot of ill will towards Trump from those who do not support his policies, his personal life and his alleged nepotism. Take Lalu Prasad Yadav for example, who still holds cards in Indian elections. He actually put out his entire family in politics and once made his wife, a surrogate CM, while he was doing a prison-time for corruption! The power of votes and firm believe in one’s leader can actually spin out the unthinkable. This was challenged by Nitish Kumar of Bihar who defeated Lalu en masse, thanks to his policy on development. Ask anybody in India about how son-in-law of Sonia Gandhi (INC) became a losing-point for that party in the elections. So the take home message is that if GOP does not control Trump-mediated nepotism or any hints of it, it is liable to lose a strategic point in 2020.
Coming back to wide spread ill will towards Trump himself, you turn to the case of Digvijay Singh and Kapil Sibal. If you ask today in India, even today, I am sure these two are the most hated politicians in India. It is because there is actually no moral standards for them when they attack their opponents. They seem to be up for any type of political risk (! not for them) when it comes to communicating their counter-arguments. These two are masters of deflection and misleading the press and super-shifters of goal-posts, so much so that you will end of feeling defeated by the end while talking logic to them. But after 2014 elections, their party suffered a humiliating defeat (INC) and it has still not recovered. However, that’s not the case for the Democrats. The margin of defeat for the Democrats is not humongous and they still have upper hand of the popular vote. Therefore, the take home message here is if Trump keeps pumping out insults after insults, its soon going to boil over and GOP has to face the flak for helping him in. It does not matter whether he acts presidential on one day and tweet out unsubstantiated (may be he has intel, he is president!) allegations on politicians the other day, people will remember the negative emotions more.
There was a time in India, when Indira Gandhi became India and India became Indira Gandhi. She actually did the most damage to the democracy of India by completely eliminating freedom of press and implanting emergency. The INC, despite having many members, kept on electing members of Nehru family and Indira enchanted a huge population of India with her Roti-Kapada-Makaan idea, meaning enhancing basic living. However, she became so powerful that whole INC party started dancing to her tunes and then there was emergency, end of constitutional freedom in India. She was loved by masses, she took bold steps in science and development, relationships with Russia etc but the power hunger in her became detrimental to democracy. She was completely defeated in the elections that came after the emergency. Her party had to see enormous losses in elections. GOP needs to learn from the history or else it will repeat the same mistakes.
Next comes the current prime minster of India, Narendra Modi. Actually, Trump has been playing the same cards as Narendra Modi. Sometimes, I wonder whether Trump is actually being coached by those who have followed what Modi did in India. Just like Trump, Modi had the baggage of ultra-right religious groups which felt empowered under a new “right” wing government. However, Modi set things right by stamping out any opposition to his development agenda and harmonious yet nationalistic approach. I do not see things like that from Trump. He has not addressed fringe elements of GOP directly and he provided just a passing remark in the inaugural address to the congress. This could be really catastrophic to the fabric of the society. Opposing radial Islamic terrorism is one thing and addressing hatred in the society is another. With Sean Spencer coming on board and delinking “get out of country” from Trump supporter chorus, this can not be a good news for GOP. A power that a president has to attack a hostile section of the society (read radical Islam, or Wahabism in particular), is equal to the power and responsibility he has to be empathetic to the plight of those who did not do harm. Instead of earning brownie political points, its necessary for GOP to address these issues head on.
Last but not the least, people like Comey, who seem to be good for democrats for sometime but bad another time. People like Comey who seem to be good for GOP sometimes but not so welcoming at other times are going to be a challenge for GOP. No matter what ones political affiliation is, there is no dearth of people who want to stick to the rules, be righteous and conduct themselves to be answerable on the judgement day with a straight face. I feel, that is what makes us humans live through the most difficult times and help sustain a society through it. These people are going to be difficult to handle because Truth is very powerful. If the Democrats stop their monkey business (and possibly split!), there is a section of society which wants to be on the right side of the constitution. They can not be stopped and they will not support GOP is Trump does not eternally become presidential-in heart-mind and soul.
So my conclusion is this. With a declaration that I am is a centrist and I support the development agenda of Modi (who is right wing in India), I feel that GOP is at the brink of a complete wipe out in 2020 if it can not contain the narrative that is coming out of the white house. The people who are providing GOP the power it so needed would not be there to rely on if it is business as usual. There is a greater need than ever before, for GOP to get back to basics of what it is to be a GOP. It has to decide whether it is Trump’s party or GOP. It has the responsibility to make the president understand that power is good but respected power is better. Its not too late to be right but it is always better to be right.