The GOP is, without doubt, the party in power. They control just about everything. Both houses of Congress, President and shortly the Supreme Court. They're in control of some amazing percentage of state houses. It really is almost without precedent.
However, all of that kind of belies the fact that there are really no fewer than 3 republican parties. There remains the old, social conservative republican party – but mainly at the state level. You can see that on full display in Richmond with bathroom bills, pornography proclamations, abortion, gay marriage and other legislation crucial to controlling our private lives. Actual governance kind of happens by accident and it's normally driven by the budget. The stuff that gets considered in Richmond is just as crazy as anything you'd see further south. That's the social conservative wing.
Next you have the fiscal conservatives. They are sometimes wrapped up with the social conservatives but not always. The TEA party is pretty representative of this wing of the party. These guys really do not care about anything but the bottom line. I got no fight with that but this world view makes the allergic to planning because that commits them to spending money at some point in the future….even if they agree with those expenditures.
Then you have the Trumpers. They believe in Trump and his ability to singularly influence the outcomes on no fewer than a dozen policy fronts. The Trump phenomenon is a populist one: he and he alone can deliver what everyone else needs. Need a job? not a problem. Fixing health care? pish. Rebuilding infrastructure? easy. Foreign relations and treaty issues? We just need better deals. The Trumper wing of the party is interesting because it contains a core of true believers for whom anything but good news is fake news. However, the increment that put Trump over the top in the general election are folks from the middle and social conservatives who cautiously invested in the Trump phenomenon.
Interestingly, those three wings don't include guys like me. Center-Right "Businessman Conservatives". You know, the guys who have historically been responsible for cautious spending with a willingness to invest. Think about guys from both sides of the aisle that everyone holds near and dear: Harry Parrish and Chuck Colgan come to mind. We will occasionally invest in the fiscal conservative movement but they tend to extremism and we don't like that. We aren't, after all, politicians really. And don't start in with "RINO" and all that BS. Those same businessmen conservatives balance the books in every municipality every year and the current brand of "republicanism" we see doesn't make much sense although I'm open to the argument that this is mainly due to the current messenger.
I don't know what the future holds for the GOP. Along party membership lines, I think the group of people who identify themselves as "Independents" continues to grow as the parties become more extreme. From a here and now perspective, my guess is that Trump continues to bumble. At some point, it will occur to the GOP in Congress that they are going to have to run for office again so they'll crank up their legislative processes and start putting legislation on the Presidents desk whether he wants it or not. Hopefully healthcare gets fixed in a useful way and we'll do some tax reform.
I don't remember much from the Nixon administration so the "Saturday night massacre" is really history to me. I cannot imagine, mainly due to the massive changes in media, that interest in politics could be any higher than it is right now. As I write this, we're about a month into a new administration, the national security advisor has already resigned and it's clear the Trump administration is headed towards some sort of reboot. I welcome that. Many of the centrists cautiously invested in the Trump administration and I, along with them, do hope that the President gets his act together. I do think the President, along with a GOP majority in Congress, has a historic opportunity to get some big things done but the self-inflicted wounds are piling up.