American conservatism died tonight in Indiana

Photo credit: Gage Skidmore via VisualHunt / CC BY-SA
Tonight marked the end of the conservative movement in the United States. In 2008 and 2012 the cracks started to show, with those elections demonstrating a demographic problem with electing Republicans in a national vote. In 2016, conservatives failed to win the Republican primary, leaving them without a party to call home.

Conservatives have only themselves to blame. According to the GOP's own analysis, following the end of Mitt Romney's failed run in 2012, Republicans had to appeal more to minority voters in order to win. While they did make efforts to sell black and Latino voters on their agenda, they did not modify it at all to make it more appealing.

Instead they went in the other direction. Since the 'Gingrich Revolution' in 1994 Republicans have moved steadily to the right. They became anti-intellectual, anti-science and punished not only movement to the left but even the appearance of compromise. They created and fed the fires of fear among the Republican base, making the party more and more anti-feminist, anti-Muslim, anti-immigrant and anti-black. They stood by the side of police and even vigilantes who killed young black people and waved the flag. No policy, no budget and no candidate was ever 'conservative enough'.

In 2016 the fear and anger they fed got away from them in the form of a racist, misogynistic, would be dictator who promotes not only fear and anger but violence within the rank and file. His policies are xenophobic, racist, protectionist, isolationist and are not only bad for the American people but for American business.

All indications to this point are that Trump is heading for a historic defeat. His Democratic challenger Hillary Clinton, despite being fairly unpopular nationally, is on a path to win with long enough coat tails to give Democrats back control of the Senate and by extension the Supreme Court, as well as pick up some ground in the House of Representatives.

What is more interesting than the election itself, is what the fallout is going to look like. The conservative establishment will have a hard time reasserting control over the party and even if they do it won't be good enough. Demographics are shifting away from the Conservatives, because of immigration and simply because of time.

According to research published in 2015, the Republican Party is losing more than a quarter-million voters every four years due to old age. The younger voters that are replacing them are not only more liberal than the Republicans, they are more liberal than much of the Democratic party (as demonstrated by the Bernie Sanders campaign).

The coalition that elected Republicans from Reagan to George W. Bush is simply not strong enough to elect a president anymore. To lure in new voters, the Republicans would need to move to the left and as this election has clearly demonstrated, there is no chance of doing that while retaining their current grass roots support.

Additionally, the "Bernie or Bust" movement which is pulling progressives away from the Democratic party and toward an isolated, political no-mans-land, will make moderate Republicans and some Republican donors more comfortable switching to the Clinton camp and possibly permanent residence in the Democratic party.

After years of never being "conservative enough" for the Republican base there are likely to be many prominent Republicans who are ready to switch camps and actually get something done.

After the Trump candidacy the post-apocalyptic GOP will be left with a lack of unifying leadership, without an ideology that they can run on nationally, they'll be demoralized, smaller in number, have fewer donors and will still be as badly divided as they are now.

Whatever else comes out of the 2016 elections, the brand of conservatism that has kept Fox News in business is dead or at least no longer a force to be reckoned with in national elections.

Before the Republicans can seriously challenge for the White House again, they will need new faces, a bigger party and a whole new agenda - one farther the the left than they have been in decades.

Conservatism has been on the ropes for years, but its heart finally stopped beating at the Indiana primary in May 2016.

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