The GOP is split in two by Trump. What comes next? Brian Beutler in The New Republic points out that if you slice the GOP between Trump and "conservatives" both slices separately have no future. The Trumpist half rejects the economic idealism of conservatism, which could appeal to a broader audience of Independents and Democrats. But the thorough going hatred of black and brown people is a demographic dead end. Meanwhile, the other half, so-called "conservatism", has no hope of building a majority coalition either:
Conservatives committed to the existing conception of the GOP, or something that closely resembles it, have a hard time seeing beyond the coming wreckage. Mitt Romney used to carry around a three-legged stool to symbolize the factions of the Republican Party—social conservatives, libertarian economic ideologists, and military imperialists—each one supposedly indispensable. Most conservatives are either satisfied with this arrangement, or can imagine no better way to assemble a national majority.
Beutler quotes Ross Douthat for the conclusion that this kind of conservatism already has as much support as it's ever going to get. Not enough. But is Douthat right to then conclude that nothing much will happen as a result of Trump except a lot of bickering?
What if they ditch "movement conservatism"?
Douthat may be correct, if the only conservatism Republican elites are interested in advancing is the party’s existing brand of messianic, movement conservatism. But it is possible to imagine a conservative American party organized less around absolutism than, well, conservatism—one that could thus become more appealing to the American right, which currently despises its own party. It’s also possible to imagine that party appealing to a larger number of middle- and upper-middle class voters, many of whom aren’t enamored of liberalism per se, but simply find the current iteration of the Republican Party downright scary.
But what about a different kind of Republican?
A Republican Party that accepted the testimony of American minorities who see Republican activities (like vote suppression, opposition to LGBT equality, and so on) as driven by bigotry could stop doing them. If it also pursued more modest economic-policy goals, shaped by a recognition that the New Deal consensus won’t be undone (and certainly not all at once), a cosmopolitan-friendly Republican Party could appeal to middle- and upper-middle class minorities, gays, lesbians, and young professionals with a more modest conservatism of lower middle-class taxes, and somewhat less business regulation, rather than the current platform of radical regressivism and fealty to the one percent. This kind of platform would attract large numbers of Democratic voters who aren’t doctrinaire progressives, especially as the Democratic Party continues to move left. The GOP would still be conservative, just no longer radical.