Bush: The Last Republican President?

Matt Vespa
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Posted: Jul 20, 2016 6:45 PM
Bush: The Last Republican President?

Donald J. Trump is now the official Republican nominee for 2016, but not everyone is happy. As we speak, various members from the Republican Party, who are horrified that Trump is the standard bearer have been drafting secondary protocols in the case that Trump is absolutely decimated, along with the rest of the down ticket races. During a staff reunion with former President George W. Bush, the 43rd president worried that he might be the last Republican president…ever (via Politico):

It was mid-April when as many as 1,000 alumni of the most recent Republican administration descended on Dallas for a staff reunion to reminisce about sunnier times. Former President George W. Bush autographed cowboy hats, Vice President Dick Cheney snapped selfies and First Lady Laura Bush chatted up the crowd. The memories were happy; the fajitas were plentiful.

[…]

But few were as dark about the Republican Party’s future as former President Bush himself. In a more intimate moment during the reunion, surrounded by a smaller clutch of former aides and advisers, Bush weighed in with an assessment so foreboding that some who relayed it could not discern if it was gallows humor or blunt realpolitik.

“I’m worried,” Bush told them, “that I will be the last Republican president.”

One of the contingency plans is a Ted Cruz 2020 run, but let’s relax (for now) about whether this is the end of Republican politics. American parties have fractured before. The Democrats have a four-way split in 1968, the anti-war wing led by Sen. Eugene McCarthy of Minnesota, the hope and change brigades led by Sen. Robert F. Kennedy of New York, the old guard represented by President Lyndon Johnson (along with Mayor Daley of Chicago and the unions), and the southern Dixiecrats. That’s one helluva schism. Vietnam was not only killing thousands of Americans, but also ripping apart the Democratic Party to pieces, along with the riots that were raging and televised for all to see. Richard Nixon ran as the law and order candidate. Trump is doing the same this cycle. Nixon won in ’68. The nation’s brief bout with Jimmy Carter after 1976, but overall, the Democrats have only had two two-term post-World War II presidencies in Clinton and Obama.

The point is that this isn’t the end of the party. Political parties go into wilderness years. The Labour Party in the United Kingdom found itself there for almost two decades, and the Democratic Party pretty much became four parties by the end of the 1960s. The Republican Party is undergoing what appears to be a violent rebirth. And while it’s too early to see whether this will be detrimental, beneficial, or innocuous—the notion that Bush will be the last, or that the party is finished, seems a bit premature.

At the same time, it's a bit disconcerting when pollster Frank Luntz says that the GOP has lost an entire generation of voters to progressivism.