A thoughtful reader wrote last week to remind me of a column I wrote in September 2013. He had made a note then to revisit Creating a New Responsibility five years on, after the 2018 mid-term elections.
First he quoted the last paragraph of the piece,
And in the longer term? My guess is that Tea Party dissidents will lose ground in the midterm elections next year; that the GOP will split in the 2016 campaign and that a Democrat will be elected president; that in 2018 the Tea Party will further fade. And by 2020, the Republican governors who are successful in implementing the Affordable Care Act will be running for president, strongly, on the strength of their records.
And then he wrote,
Things haven’t played out exactly that way, but the Tea Party is fading in many respects. (To what degree is Trumpism a version of Tea Partyism?) But assuming the [Boston] Globe isn’t over-editorializing its news, ACA is becoming more popular, and you may well be right regarding 2020.
It is very useful to be reminded of one’s hits and misses. I immediately thought of “The Accidental President, ‘‘ a column I wrote 10 days after the 2016 election. That remains the way I understand the outcome of that dismal campaign, despite Hillary Clinton’s determination to pin her defeat on Vladimir Putin instead of the Congressional Republicans who forced FBI Director James Comey to write his famous letter.
I thought, too, about “Double or Nothing’’ from last summer, in which I declared my conviction that Trump would not run again. With a hat-tip to EP’s faithful copy editor, who first voiced the thought, I stand by that one, too. It is even more apparent now that Donald Trump can’t hope to win re-election. He should take his marbles and go home to obloquy in New York.
(The copy editor now believes Trump will run again, having become addicted to the attention. He may be right, but in either case, as long as the Democrats can field a candidate, there will be no second term.)
And 2020? With Ohio Gov. John Kasich out of the running, the only Republican governor who fits the bill is former Massachusetts governor Mitt Romney, now representing Utah in the Senate, the man who initiated the approach to the insuring the uninsured that, under President Obama, became the Affordable Care Act. A hat-tip to Utah for that, too. Certainly Vice President Mike Pence is not what I had in mind, even before he was permanently soiled by Trump.
Could Romney defeat Pence in a lightning primary season? It is anybody’s guess. Who knows what the Republican Party will stand for in the future? Who knows who the Democrats will put up? Just a reminder that, for all the talk about how Trump has changed the GOP completely, there exists at least one pathway by which it could change again.
David Warsh, a Somerville, Mass.-based columnist and economic historian, is proprietor of economicprincipals.com.