Signing the discriminatory state law HB-1523 has made Mississippi Governor Phil Bryant a household name overnight. Virtually no one involved in the struggle for civil rights cares about what happens in the state of Mississippi because it is never on the front lines of any positive change. It takes a special type of Reactionary to fight for the Confederate flag and sign into law a bill that violates the civil liberties of citizens and encourages people to treat others worse (while protecting business owners who want to discriminate against potential customers and employees), but Governor Phil Bryant did that and suddenly anyone who cares about civil liberties knew his name.
Before HB-1523 makes it to the Federal Supreme Court where it will be fought over on the question of whether or not lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgendered people are a protected class or, as American citizens, are they inherently protected from discrimination and the law will likely be ruled Unconstitutional, Governor Phil Bryant has the potential to become a key player in the 2016 Presidential contest.
The Schism In The Republican Party
The Republican Party is in crisis. As I detailed in a prior article (that's here!), it would be virtually impossible for the Republican Party to win the U.S. Presidential election because of the way the Tea Party has hijacked the party. The Tea Party has eradicated most of the lingering moderates in the Republican Party and, in the process, has created a large roster of candidates who have local appeal and a very short record of political accomplishments. That makes it difficult for virtually any Republican candidate to win on the national stage.
Moreover, for the 2016 Presidential election cycle, the Republican Party has been further fractured by the primary contest being brutal to the candidates involved and the Party itself. Despite members of the Republican Party voting for Donald Trump in the majority of the contests, the idea of Trump as candidate has begun to make establishment Republicans very nervous. He is not someone they can control and they are unsure how well he would represent their base. While this might be a great basis for an argument to end political parties in the United States (as I did in the article here!), the Republican Party is determined to put forth an electable candidate for the November Presidential election.
The conflict between the Tea Party faction and the traditional Republican Party has reached a peak and most political pundits do not believe any of the three major Republican candidates still running for President can get a majority of votes to win the nomination at the RNC Convention. Donald Trump is a candidate the Republican establishment does not want as their candidate and Ted Cruz faces an inevitable Constitutional challenge to his electibility should he succeed in getting nominated for President and then win a general election. Paul Ryan and John Boehner have already publicly noted that the Republican candidate for President might well be a candidate who gets a floor nomination at the Republican Convention. If that is the case, virtually any Republican is eligible for consideration.
Phil Bryant For President?!
Governor Phil Bryant might be a candidate that could be floor-nominated for President at the Republican Convention. Bryant's term as Governor is term-limited and expires in January 2020. While it is possible he could wait until then to begin a campaign for President, an active sitting Governor who is in the public eye has a much better chance of getting considered seriously than someone who is already out of office (just ask Michelle Bachman, Sarah Palin, George Pataki, etc. etc.). Bryant's ideal time to run is, actually, for the 2016 Presidential cycle.
Bryant is not a terrible choice for the Republicans. He is not currently mired in scandal, like Michigan's Republican Governor Rick Snyder. While those with an understanding of civil liberties and basic human rights (as well as a knowledge of the Bible that extends past one or two Old Testament lines) find Bryant's philosophies utterly deplorable, Bryant is a great candidate for the current Republican Party. He does not isolate the Republican base; if the Republicans are going to be the party of racists and homophobes, Bryant is an unapologetic candidate to represent that party. Moreover, Bryant's extremist positions are unimpeachable; he has made a career of zealously attacking abortion providers and promoting a narrow, theistic view under the guise of promoting business interests.
Statistically, Governors have a better record of winning Presidential election than members of the U.S. House Of Representatives. Bryant has the advantage over someone like Scott Walker or even Chris Christie in that, having not been a part of the 2016 Primary contest so far, he cannot be accused of being a quitter. Walker and Christie had their shot and gave up either before votes were cast or before the vast majority of states were in play. Governor Phil Bryant could conceivably use his present celebrity to get a floor nomination without having to go through the gauntlet of primary elections and the criticisms that come with that. Surely there are plenty of Republicans who would love to see April as Confederate Heritage Month nationally. There are no surprises with Phil Bryant; he is devoted to his cause and his faction has seized the Republican Party; why wouldn't the Republicans want him representing him as their Presidential candidate?
Could Phil Bryant Be A Component In The Republicans Winning The White House In 2016?
As the 2016 Republican Primary contest has progressed, strategists have attempted to find a winning strategy to seize the Presidency and find a candidate who could actually win them the White House. Phil Bryant could actually be the right candidate for that. There are two strategically viable paths to the White House for Republicans who are struggling with the candidates currently in the field and Phil Bryant might well be a key component in either of them.
If there is a floor nomination for the Republican Presidential candidate, the key reason Republicans would abandon the candidates currently in the primary field is that they do not believe in the electibility of any of those candidates in the general election. The Republican Convention and the Republican Party, at the end of the day, are most concerned with winning the Presidential election (you can't govern if you can't win the election!). To that end, they need to find a candidate who can win in the general election and regardless of how a floor-nominated candidate might be tailored to combat the Democratic nominee, Phil Bryant could be an integral part of that process.
If Bernie Sanders is the Democratic Presidential candidate, the most sensible election strategy for Republicans is to nominate a moderate Republican. With Sanders pushing openly liberal policies and a strong philosophy, the only sensible strategy for a party so devoid of ideology that it cannot argue (i.e. running on records of accomplishments reveals a strong contrast to ideals - Republicans vote as fiscal conservatives for candidates who, when in office, either rack up massive debts or decimate their public institutions by underfunding them) is to nominate someone who has moderate proposals and a record of winning elections. While the moderate Republicans are virtually extinct, only a moderate Republican would have the ability to sway massive amounts of independent voters in key states (i.e. Midwestern Republicans might not love Bernie Sanders's position on gun control, but they aren't so keen on the Federal government inhibiting their businesses and some have seen how tax revenues can help alleviate funding problems in health care and education, which are generally seen as public goods). Nominating a moderate Republican - if one can even still be found - carries with it the inherent risk of alienating the Tea Party core of the Republican Party. Having Phil Bryant on the ticket as a Vice Presidential candidate - with a wink and a nod to the base over the Vice President advising on key positions like Judicial nominees - gives the Republicans a surprisingly solid strategy for a fighting chance to win in the general election. The mass appeal of a moderate and the voting block of the Tea Party is about all that could break the actively liberal and activist voting block the the Democrats have developed with Sanders.
If Ted Cruz is the Republican nominee, Governor Phil Bryant could be the best strategic nominee for his running mate. Bryant has endorsed Cruz for President and both are members of the Tea Party core of Republican Party, so the two are ideologically on board with exactly what the Republican Party wants as their Party's nominee. Cruz as candidate, however, has some serious issues facing him. If Cruz is the Republican nominee and if he was to win the general election, he would undoubtedly face a serious Supreme Court challenge to becoming President. Cruz is a Constitutional crisis waiting to happen. Governor Phil Bryant, as a running mate for Cruz, could either be the solution to that crisis or insurance against it. If Ted Cruz were found to be ineligible to assume the Presidency, his running mate would have the opportunity to argue a right to the Presidency (though opponents would no doubt argue a lack of mandate - that few were voting for President thinking the VP candidate could assume the position). The advantage of the Republicans using someone like Phil Bryant as running mate for Ted Cruz is the potential that he could be used as an insurance policy against challenging a Cruz Presidency. After all, Liberals and Democrats may not be fond of Ted Cruz, but they might see an inexperienced, ineffectual junior Senator as more manageable to deal with and combat than an ideologue ex-Governor who is more consistent in his Reactionary tendencies. The center and left might not want to fight the legitimacy of a Cruz Presidency if it meant a Bryant Presidency.
Right now, there are many rooms in which many Republican strategists are trying to calculate a path to winning the 2016 Presidential election. Only the leadership and their key advisors know for sure the direction the Republican Party is going to go in, but with prominent RNC leaders like Reince Priebus publicly calling for Donald Trump to honor the Republican Convention's eventual nominee, it is reasonable that the leadership is not counting on Trump being the nominee. It is naive to think that, as the RNC's calculations progress, Governor Phil Bryant is not being considered in their calculus.
For other political articles, please check out:
Why Modern Libertarianism Is Disastrous For The United States
How The Affordable Care Act (Obamacare) Is Unconstitutional
For other reviews, please check out my Main Review Index Page for an organized listing!
© 2016 W.L. Swarts. May not be reprinted without permission.
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