The Republican Party is Not Doomed

From Tracing Woodgrains: The Republican Party is Doomed. He begins by making a bold, attention-grabbing assertion “The republican Party is doomed” and subsequently walks back on his original claim.

I don’t mean they’ll lose every election moving forward. My case, rather, is this: they know exactly what they want someone to do, but in an increasing number of institutions, there is no one left to do it. Increasing age and education polarization means that Republicans are rapidly losing the capacity to run public institutions at all levels other than electoral, and this trend cannot realistically reverse within a generation. The near-term future is already written.


The demands of a two-party system mean each party will typically adjust over time to capture, if not 50% of the electorate, at least enough to remain meaningfully competitive. There is no reason to expect that to change. Republicans are electorally competitive and will likely remain so, particularly given their advantage in rural areas with greater Senate representation. People zero in on that, but electoral politics is a small part of governance writ large.

So it’s not dead, no? So maybe the accurate title should be “The Republicans are doomed to lose the ability to effectively-run institutions,” would be more accurate but less click-bait I suppose. For something to be dead implies it does not exist. If it’s still winning elections and having electoral representation, then it cannot be dead, at least by any commonly understood meaning of the word ‘dead’.

But because their voters are increasingly old, rural, and less educated, they lack all but the slightest foothold in the great majority of institutions run by and filled with young, educated professionals: that is to say, the great bulk of institutions involved in the day to day of governance.

People have been making this argument for decades. It may come as a surprise to some, but there is a continuous supply of old people. As soon as today’s old people die, they are replenished by ‘new’ old people. At no point in history has there ever not been old people. Although generational labels are discrete, it’s more like a continuum.

The field of education provides a good case study as to how this plays out. Educators are overwhelmingly progressive in their inclinations. Left to their own devices, they will take a policy and curricular stance broadly in line with progressive sensibilities. Teacher’s unions are unambiguously and emphatically against the Republican Party.

Right, but this is hardly a new development. How does one make the intellectual leap to “Republicans are doomed” from something which has been true forever? This provide no new evidence to substantiate the claim in the headline.

Here’s the problem: by the time you’re trying to legislate every one of your preferences, resisted at every level by the people put in place to enact those preferences, you’ve already lost. Republicans want people who want to enact their values.

downplaying his past within those same institutions, rising to incredible wealth via private enterprise, smashing into the scene of his own party as an outsider obviously loathed by those who have spent their lifetimes within it, focused on a libertarian “burn it down” ethos. To be a popular Republican in the Trump era, you almost need to be an outsider promising to tear the government to pieces.

This ‘burn it down’ ethos is just populist rhetoric. The fact that top Republican leaders and candidates come from top institutions, like Yale, sorta refutes his thesis of Republicans lacking the necessary cultural capital for effective leadership.

As far as policy is concerned, Republicans have had considerable success since Reagan of lowering income taxes and keeping them low. Meanwhile, efforts by the left of a wealth tax have been DOA. Biden’s attempt at cancelling $400 billion of student loans was thwarted by the courts, only forgiving $120 billion. For the right, efforts at controlling the Southern border have failed, but Republicans have had much more success regarding gun laws. The overturn of Roe v. Wade and the ‘illegality’ of affirmative action (although colleges have tried to find ways to bypass this ruling) were big, recent wins, too. Overall, it would seem like both sides have had roughly equal wins and losses, but in different areas.

Conservatives are so desperate for a shred of cultural influence that they turn people like Oliver Anthony (“Rich Men North of Richmond”) into overnight sensations, only to learn that they, too, have nothing but scorn for the Republican Party.

How can conservatives be lacking cultural influence but also turn him into an ‘overnight sensation’? Again, this seems contradictory. The evidence would seem to suggest conservatives have considerable cultural influence, even arguably compared to the ’90s or the early 2000s.

Consider the following recent examples:

1. The biggest podcaster is Joe Rogan, whose popularity is at all-time highs. His content can affect discourse.

2. Tucker Carlson is the most popular media personality now, even after leaving Fox, thanks to Twitter/X. Like Rogan, his huge audience can have a memetic effect on discourse.

3. Elon Musk, the richest man in the world, who is avowedly anti-woke, now owns Twitter, arguably the biggest media company in the world, which is even more influential than CNN in terms of being a source of news. Using his platform, he also waged legal war on the ADL and Media Matters after the organizations defamed him. Jeff Bezos, who is no friend of the woke either, is not far behind.

4. Anti-woke accounts and content on Twitter has seen huge growth and popularity over the past 3 years. Memes like ‘clown world’, and videos that cast the left in a negative light, like of looting, shoplifting, and civil unrest, have gone hugely viral on the platform. This was even before Elon’s takeover. The left has no such equivalent.

5. Even left-sympathetic tech CEOs like Tim Cook keep crawling back to Twitter despite pausing advertising, because alienating or ignoring half your potential customer base is a bad business move.

6. Thanks to the story blowing up on Twitter, Harvard’s president is embroiled in a major plagiarism scandal that may be her undoing. Had it not been for Twitter, maybe it would have been swept under the rug.

7. The former president of the University of Pennsylvania, M. Elizabeth Magill, resigned due to Republican-led backlash for comments deemed antisemitic. This shows how sentiment can lead to tangible results.

8. Biden’s approval ratings hover at around the low 40s despite the booming stock market, strong GDP growth, and historically low unemployment. This is the lowest of any Democratic incumbent since Carter. Unlike in the ’90s and early 2000s, Democrats can no longer rely on the monolithic ‘liberal media’ for support. Coverage by major sources such as The Atlantic, NYTs, and Washington Post has become more negative or impartial in recent years, such as stories about out-of-control wokeness and left-wing intolerance, high inflation, etc. And much more competition and negative coverage from independent or non-mainstream but popular sources, like Twitter.

9. Again thanks to Twitter, successful anti-woke boycotts have been waged on major corporations, which have hurt sales.

10. Nowadays woke educators have to factor in the possibility of having their attempts at indoctrination go viral (such as the Libs of TikTok cultural phenomenon), whereas in the ’90s, before the advent of smart phones and social media, this was less of a risk. Howard Zinn’s A People’s History of the United States was required reading for many high schools and colleges in the ’90s, with seemingly minimal resistance by Republicans or attention from the public.

11. The woke tried to cancel Richard Hanania and his latest book, but failed.

All of this sounds like having a lot of influence to me.

Put simply: right now, at the nuts and bolts of governance, the Republican Party has a much shorter bench of talent than the Democratic Party. Even conservative intellectuals are trained in overwhelmingly progressive institutions. This affects every level of politics, but since it doesn’t necessarily harm them electorally,

Not necessarily as shown by recent landmark court wins, such as against student loan debt forgiveness, affirmative action, and abortion. The left and right differ on almost everything and have diametrically opposed objectives despite having matriculated from similar institutions.

Overall, I fail to see convincing evidence of the Republican party losing influence–either in terms of culture or its ability to govern–and such proclamations by the author of the GOP being dead are premature and unsubstantiated.