[T]his doesn't happen often in American politics, but it does happen. Significantly, it was immigration (from Ireland) that provoked the Know-Nothing American Party and destroyed the Whig-Democrat “Second Party System“ in the 1850s. The outbreak of the Civil War obscured this, because the Know-Nothings were also generally strong abolitionists—notwithstanding recent efforts to smear them as proto-Nazis—and chose to join the new Republican Party.Now, the Main Stream Media is playing catch up, pointing out that the populist/donor class divide within the GOP could split apart the party itself.
You didn't hear it here first. (Well, I did discuss it in Alien Nation, pp. 199-201.) Recently, a variety of well-known names have been quietly speculating that something of the sort may be in the wind: veteran Reagan operative Lynn Nofziger, shortly before his death (scroll down to May 19, 2005 entry); Richard Viguerie, whose direct-mail operations played a key role in the Reaganite capture of the Republican Party; David Frum, despite being author of the cheerleading Bush biography The Right Man; Peggy Noonan, despite being a WSJ Op Ed columnist(although that must certainly give her first-hand familiarity with the problem).
It's hard for people to believe that the political parties they grew up with could ever disappear. All I can say is: I've seen it before, in Canada.
Damon Linker writes in The Week:
If the GOP isn't on the verge of disintegration, it may be just one potent primary challenge away from breaking into two...It's significant that a large number of the Mormon population is "Never Trump," a phenomenon we've explored at VDARE.com. But this shouldn't be overstated, for two reasons. First, despite the ludicrous predictions of Rick Wilson-tier political consultants, the "Never Trump" candidate Evan McMullin (often confused with a breakfast sandwich from McDonald's) didn't come close to throwing the state to Hillary Clinton, let alone winning the state. Second, Utah can indulge in "Never Trump" fantasies precisely because it is mostly white and has little diversity. If the anti-white hierarchy of the Church of Latter-Day Saints gets its wish and turns Utah increasingly Third World, it will actually push the Right in a more Trumpian direction. During the primaries, it was precisely the more diverse states where Trump dominated, especially the Northeastern states where Republicans have to contend with black-dominated urban machines in the cities.
When presidents face a primary challenge, it's usually from a restive faction further out from the center — think of Ted Kennedy challenging Jimmy Carter from the left in 1980 or Pat Buchanan taking on George H. W. Bush from the right in 1992. The goal is to make an ideological point — in the hope of steering the party away from compromise and conciliation down the road.
But in this case, the challenge would come from the more centrist faction of the party that was already defeated in the 2016 primaries. It would be a last gasp, a dying howl of the party's old guard, not a vision for where the party should turn next.
That's why such a primary challenge would be the harbinger of intra-party civil war, not a prelude to a vibrant, forward-looking takeover. Two-fifths of the GOP might be unhappy with Trump. But more than half of this group (or 23 percent of all Republicans) was happy enough with him to vote for him in the first place. A somewhat less volatile and incompetent cultural populist and nationalist could probably appeal to this group again. Only a mere 18 percent of the Republican Party is firmly Never Trump and thus likely to support returning the GOP to what it was before the Trumpening.
That means any attempt to take down Trump with a primary challenge will likely be interpreted by over four-fifths of the party — including, again, those who identify with it most strongly — as an act of disloyalty and self-sabotage by those who lost out the last time. (That an astonishing 11 percent of the Never Trumpers are Mormons and Mitt Romney's name keeps being floated as a primary challenger also raises the possibility of an added dimension of strife, along intra-religious lines, within the party.)
[The GOP's coming doom, December 6, 2017]
[T]hese Never Trumpers that continually receive glowing praise from liberal publications don’t have a real constituency. If their main figures are Flake and failed presidential candidate Evan McMullin, there doesn’t seem a lot of evidence for their brand of politics.Even if Orrin Hatch (who has spoken warmly of President Trump recently) leaves office and Mitt Romney runs and wins, it won't signal a new beginning for the GOP. Even Romney has tacked right on immigration when he has to.
The Arizona senator currently has an 18 percent approval rating among voters in his home state, while McMullin barely netted any votes outside of Utah. These low numbers exist in spite of all the fawning press coverage both men have received.
There is more to Flake, McMullin and the other Never Trumpers than just hating the president — they do stand for a particular political ideology. Essentially, what they support is warmed over Reaganism — low taxes, limited government, unrestricted free trade, foreign interventionism, increased immigration — with the added element of denouncing the majority of GOP voters as racists.
This type of ideology was actually found to be remarkably unappealing among GOP voters, according to a study conducted by election analysts Henry Olsen and Dante Scala. And that study didn’t take into account the ideology’s luminaries continually lecturing about racist Republicans since Trump won the party’s nomination.
It’s hard to imagine Republican voters want to vote for people who have nothing but contempt for them.
One of the surest signs of a civil war raging in the GOP would be party primaries pitting Trumpists against Never Trumpers. However, the major primaries in 2017 have only shown candidates adopting Trumpian rhetoric for their own purposes.
What seems more likely is, as Linker posited, a soft populist/nationalist will take over the GOP after Trump and keep the party united. After all, even if President Trump is removed from office on trumped up scandals, his voters will remain and largely become even more radicalized. The future of the GOP is likely to be someone like Tom Cotton (if he stays in the Senate), not Mitt Romney and certainly not Jeff Flake. The only question is whether someone like that will be enough, or whether the demographic decline of the historic American nation will have already advanced so far as to make the GOP noncompetitive.
That doesn't mean we won't get more of this "Never Trump" foolishness. It's always personally profitable to claim to be a Republican or a conservative and constantly attack to the right. The MSM always needs more controlled opposition to attack the real Right. It's also increasingly clear that for a great deal of what we call Conservatism Inc., the very point is to lose (and to make some money in the meantime) [The Point Is To Lose, by Gregory Hood, AltRight.com, November 27, 2017].
But the grassroots is increasingly intolerant of this game and aware of its existence. And as the Trump campaign showed, the increasingly nationalist grassroots is quite willing to break apart the party rather than bend the knee to the donor class. "The power to destroy a thing is the power to control it," to quote Dune. The GOP Establishment will bend the knee in the end, just like they did to Trump, and even to Roy Moore [Roy Moore Gets Trump Endorsement and R.N.C. Funding for Senate Race, by Richard Fausset, Alan Blinder, and Jonathan Martin, New York Times, December 4, 2017]. They have nowhere else to go.