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Thornton Hall

The Revolution Will Be Kuhnian.

Primarily About Killing The Republican Party

I have suggested that the GOP will go the way of the Whigs thanks to a simple formula: winning a statewide GOP primary requires a candidate and a platform that cannot win a national election.


The money game, which used to play a moderating role, has been blown wide open by Citizens United, a Supreme Court decision that levels the money playing field on the GOP side. Now one crazy billionaire can singlehandedly provide the kind of cash that used to require the broad support of Chambers of Commerce. The "adults" in the GOP Establishment have lost their money veto. 

My point is that that Crazy wins GOP primaries and Crazy now has access to infinite money.  


But in New York Magazine, Gabriel Sherman highlights another factor that makes primaries bad for the GOP: the primary campaign as book tour phenomenon. Even if you're too crazy to win a primary, you can still parlay being "crazy candidate front runner of the moment" into "best selling author and sought after speaker."

These candidates have made six- and seven-figure paydays even before the first ballot is cast. With hours of free airtime on television to promote their brand, their market value is sure to increase. “Even if you lose, you exponentially increase your marketability,” the consultant told me. “Right now, let's say you’re giving speeches for $20 grand. You run and it becomes $40,000. If you do well, maybe there’s a Fox show. Then you write a book about how to save the party. Then you write another about why the next president sucks. There’s a million marketing opportunities."

So what? They are the party of making a buck, right? The problem is that it's hard for the future nominee to ignore the crazy. And "the conversation" is driven by the press, who love  crazy. 

After Mitt Romney’s 2012 loss, a GOP-commissioned autopsy revealed that voters saw the party as “scary’ ‘narrow-minded’ and ‘out of touch.’” This year’s reality-show primary significantly complicates Republicans’ efforts to soften the brand for a broader electorate. After all, a candidate seeking to monetize a demographic niche has zero incentive to modulate their message for wide appeal. “The conversation during the primary is driven by self-serving interests and aimed at a certain constituency,” complains another top GOP strategist. “There is no need to be responsible for those particular candidates in language, issue-focus, or anything else since it's not about the overall

Frank Rich: Thornton Was Right About "Way of the Whigs"

Frank Rich: Thornton Was Right About "Way of the Whigs"

How Many People Did Economists Kill a Today? A Million? A Billion?