Does the Donald just go away? That's a little hard to imagine, although the guy is 70 years old. I think, in any event, the Republican Party is going to find itself in a three-way civil war between Trump's voters, the tea party and the establishment.
Even if Trump doesn't stick around for the 2020 election (in which he'll only be as old as Bernie Sanders is today), what happens to the thirty or forty percent of the party he represents? Surely they will not just disappear, or run back into the waiting arms of the establishment. If nothing else, some
What about the tea party? Despite Tuesday's defeat of Representative Tim Huelskamp in the Kansas Republican primary (the most overlooked story of the week), tea partiers such as Ted Cruz (and far-right groups like the Club for Growth) aren't going anywhere. While I don't think the junior senator from Texas will ever get the Republican nomination for president, that doesn't mean he won't stop trying (and, by the way, won't stop being a pain in the neck for GOP leaders).
(Oh, and allow me to repeat a prediction I've been making lately: No Republican who ran for president this year will ever get the GOP nomination. They all had their chance and blew it. Look, instead, to up-and-comers such as Ben Sasse, Tom Cotton and Charlie Baker.)
Finally, there's the Republican Party establishment. Even if Mitt Romney and the Bushes are yesterday's news, you still have people like Mitch McConnell, Paul Ryan and the Chamber of Commerce as de facto establishment leaders.
I wrote after the 2012 election that the Republican Party was an uneasy coalition of its tea party base and the Washington establishment. And that it would hold back the party until it sorted itself out. Little did I know that someone like Donald Trump would come along and uncover a third faction made up of older white people without a college degree who feel they have lost out in the global economy, don't care much for immigration reform, free trade or wars of choice, couldn't care less about tax cuts for the rich, but do like entitlements for old white people like Social Security and Medicare.
Expect a long and bloody civil war following this election. And it may not end for a while. As Josh Barro said recently, we may run out of popcorn before this is over.