GOP TROUBLES JUST BEGINNING
True, many of the GOP’s problems can be traced to the fact that Republican voters have been more interested in sending a message of frustration with the party’s current leadership than in selecting a nominee who could both keep the allegiance of the party faithful and attract new supporters.
But the Republicans’ problems go much deeper than their 2016 presidential nominee. The party has failed to dictate much of the national discussion despite opportunities on issues like terrorism, economic growth and government paternalism. Instead, it has preferred to argue with itself about policies, personalities and who is a real Republican.
If you are a Republican and want to blame the media for the party’s problems, go right ahead. But doing so doesn’t change the near-term reality or help the GOP frame the national debate.
None of this means that the Grand Old Party will become irrelevant next year or that the current issue mix will last. Issues come and go, and so will the current ones — though probably not until Hillary Clinton enacts part of her agenda and turns the Supreme Court considerably to the left.
The GOP could very well have a good 2018, since the midterm turnout will likely be more Republican than 2016's and midterms often offer a rebuke to the incumbent president’s party.
But Republicans have plenty of work to do to adapt to the new electorate and to the new issue mix, including looking beyond their own preferences to see what will sell nationally, among all voters.
Temper tantrums of the kind that we are seeing from GOP voters in 2016 may make the Republican rank-and-file feel good for the moment, but they aren’t a sign of seriousness or pragmatism in the adult world.