Shorting the Republican Party

No thanks to its former leadership -- and all thanks to Trump and those who support him -- the Republican Party is on the cusp of a major political victory that promises to crush the Left, and the Democratic Party, for the foreseeable future.

The only real threat is the constant simmering of opposition within the party (“the traitors within the gates”) that could weaken, divert, and distract efforts in the vital weeks ahead. This is despite strong efforts by Trump to unify the party by selecting conventional conservative Mike Pence as VP and endorsing Paul Ryan.

Of course, the best response would be a Republican “Night of the Long Knives,” but that would obviously be too messy and would alienate some parts of the GOP that are at least going along with Trump in the run-up to the election. So, for the time being, Trump is forced to tolerate this treachery and try to contain it.

In order to do this, it is important to understand what drives the anti-Trump Republicans, so that their disingenuous arguments can be countered and their murky motivations exposed.

There are several well-known reasons. For example, the Alt-Right has long pointed out the “Cuckservative” problem, namely that many conservatives are in fact hollow in their beliefs, having imbibed core liberal and leftist values -- like globalism, atomization, political correctness, etc. -- that undermine their opposition to liberal political positions. Trump cuts directly across these shared Cuckservative and Liberal values in several important ways.

Others in the Republican Party oppose him for reasons of tone and temperament. This is essentially class politics, as Trump, although immensely rich, well-connected, and stylish in his own way, evokes in his demeanor and virile manner, the lower classes, rather than the “refined” elite.

Another version of this is religious distaste, with Trump seen as too “worldly” and materialistic, and lacking humility and due deference. His meme sobriquet of “God Emperor” -- bestowed because it rings true to a large degree -- reveals a Nietzschean dimension to Trump. The “invention” of a god implies the death of God. This rubs some Christians the wrong way.

Next, there is the Zionist agenda. Trump’s common sense foreign policy -- e.g. avoiding needless conflicts in the Middle East -- threatens Israel’s interest because they have benefitted the most from the destabilization of the Middle East through Neo-Con interventionist policies. Many Jews dislike Trump mainly on this basis, while others fear his invocation of a strong American identity that, inevitably, is implicitly White and Christian, even though Trump lacks racial awareness and strong religious views.

All these reasons are simple enough and well-known on the Alt-Right, but there are also less obvious reasons, related to subtler psychological factors. For example, many of those who oppose Trump do so for the simple reason that they have backed the wrong horse too strongly and got badly bruised in the process.

Normally, when there is a contest in a political party -- especially an establishment party like the GOP -- it is a rather sedate and subdued affair that gently builds to a unifying acclaim. Important people in the party take sides, of course, but they generally keep the door open to other candidates, especially candidates with a chance of winning. This means that even if their preferred candidate is defeated they don’t lose too much political capital, and can easily adapt themselves to the slightly different new order.

Trump’s campaign, however, threw out the form book and upset all the calculations. Rather than just preferring their own candidates, those opposed to Trump were panicked by his unconventional appeal into attempting to slam the door on him. When Trump nevertheless managed to break through each door, in turn, these party worthies were put into both an awkward and disempowering position. They had got it wrong and had then doubled down on their error -- and had been forced to bend the knee nonetheless. They thus found themselves devalued and disempowered within their own party.

The best analogy to demonstrate what is going on is the financial market. Trump has effectively crashed their value as politicians, so they now have two options: (1) to hang in there and slowly rebuild their political value, taking their place behind those who realized the Trump train was winning and jumped on board, or (2) they can try to short the Republican Party, which essentially means contributing to a Hillary victory.

In finance, shorting is the practice of selling investments, not currently owned, at the present price, while paying for them at whatever price they are at an agreed future date. If that price is lower the deal makes money, if not, it loses.

Right now the anti-Trump movement in the GOP has lost possession of the party and their only way to get it back is by a process of successfully shorting the party. By opposing Trump, despite his overwhelming primary victory, they are effectively selling their remaining, diminished stake in the party at a relatively high value, in the hope that they can pay the costs for this at a much lower rate in the future.

The main value that they are getting in this transaction is the illusion of moral posturing and being seen as selflessly principled. The main cost, however, is the opprobrium that generally attaches itself to those in party politics who break ranks, divide unity, and throw away victory. Their hope is that once Trump fails, the cost to themselves of shorting the party -- political opprobrium -- will be much less than the value of their supposed “principled” opposition to Trump.

Such a transaction, if it comes off, will see them accrue political capital, and be in a strong position to once again buy into the party when it devalued by defeat. But it essentially means that they are partisans of defeat, and as such are protected from the full consequences of this by Trump’s reluctance to start a political bloodbath so close to the election.

If they miscalculate, as they have before, and Trump wins -- as I think he will -- then their attempt to short the party will greatly lessen the value of their moral posturing, while greatly increasing the costs of their political betrayal.

In that case, we can expect to see them wiped out, which might make one or two of them, at least, think about hedging their bets.