Joel Kotkin bids farewell to the Republican Party. Excerpts:

Against weak and squabbling opposition, Trump has employed his crude persona, and equally crude politics, to dominate the primaries to date. But in the process he has broken not only the party structure, but also its spirit. Indeed, some of the party’s most promising emerging leaders, such as Nebraska U.S. Sen. Ben Sasse, have made it clear they cannot support a candidate who seems to have little respect for the Constitution, or any other cherished principle.

In contrast, the Democrats, for all their manifest divisions, remain united by a desire to reward and parcel out goodies to their various constituencies. Hillary Clinton, as the troublesome Bernie Sanders fades, will gather a Mafia-like commission of Democratic “families” – feminists, greens, urban land speculators, public unions, gays, tech oligarchs and Wall Street moguls. Given the self-interest that binds them, few Democrats will reject her, despite her huge ethical lapses and appearance of congenital lying.

Kotkin blames economic elites for driving the GOP off the cliff:

Those most responsible for the party’s decline, however, are those with the most to lose: the Wall Street-corporate wing of the party. These affluent Republicans placed their bets initially on Jeb Bush, clear proof of their cluelessness about the grass roots – or much else about contemporary politics. They used to attract working- and middle-class voters by appealing somewhat cynically to patriotism and conservative social mores, which also did not threaten their property and place in the economic hierarchy. Now these voters no longer accept “trickle down” economics or the espousal of free trade and open borders widely embraced by the establishments of both parties.

The fecklessness of the party leadership has been evident in the positions taken by corporate Republicans. Reduce capital-gains taxes to zero? Are you kidding, Marco? New trade pacts may thrill those at the country club, but not in towns where industries have fled to Mexico or China.

And then there’s immigration.

It didn’t have to be this way, but the mandarins couldn’t see what was happening to them, and reform themselves. Kotkin is not a Trumpkin (“The election of Trump would elevate an unscrupulous, amoral and patently ignorant bully to the White House”), and he believes that though Trump will draw some blue-collar white Democratic vote away from Hillary, she will win — and Democrats may well win the Senate, too

… leaving Clinton a clear path to dominate the Supreme Court. This will strip away the only barrier to ever more intrusive rule by decree. Clinton has already made it clear that, unlike her husband, she is ready to circumvent Congress if it dares decline her initiatives.

In this way, the rest of the country will increasingly resemble what we already have in California – a central governing bureaucracy that feels little constrained about expanding its power over every local planning and zoning decision. The federal republic will become increasingly nationalized, dispensing largely with the constitutional division of power.

Centralism, as known well in California, comes naturally to a one-party state. Businesses, particularly large ones, faced with uncontested political power, will fall in line.

Read the whole thing. Lots to chew on there. Kotkin says that if the GOP loses the White House for the third time in a row, it will be shattered. The only hope for conservatives is that the country will be so fed up with Hillary overreach after four years that it will elect a decentralizing president and Congress in 2020.

Hey, you take hope where you can find it. And for religious conservatives like me, a Hillary victory would be a catastrophe. She is fully on board with pro-abortion feminism. Remember when she gave the speech last year saying that religious beliefs worldwide had to be changed to make abortion more widely available? And her going all-in for the LGBT agenda means she would be an unmitigated disaster for religious liberty. She has already endorsed the Equality Act. Andrew T. Walker explains what that means for dissenting religious institutions, like colleges:

The reality or effect of the Equality Act would be to cudgel dissenting institutions whose views on heavily disputed categories, such as sexual orientation and gender identity, do not line up with government orthodoxy. In effect, if an institution takes sexual orientation or gender identity into account, it is seen as violating federal non-discrimination law. The conflict this poses for religious institutions that do not agree with the morality of LGBT ideology, which would be protected in federal law, is enormous.

The conflict is reflected in the now-infamous exchange heard in the Obergefell oral arguments:

Justice Alito: Well, in the Bob Jones case, the Court held that a college was not entitled to tax­exempt status if it opposed interracial marriage or interracial dating. So would the same apply to a university or a college if it opposed same-sex marriage?

[Solicitor] General Verrilli: You know, I don’t think I can answer that question without knowing more specifics, but it’s certainly going to be an issue. I don’t deny that. I don’t deny that, Justice Alito. It is — it is going to be an issue.

“It is going to be an issue.” Never has a government lawyer been so forthcoming.

Consider this: Scalia is gone, and his seat will be filled either by Obama this year, or Hillary, if she wins. Either way, a Democrat. Ruth Bader Ginsburg is 83 and in poor health. She is likely to retire or expire in the next president’s term. Justice Kennedy is the second-oldest justice, at 79. It would not necessarily be a loss to religious liberty and other causes dear to social conservatives, but it would give President HRC an opportunity to appoint a younger liberal to sit on the court for decades. Justice Breyer is 77, and if he so pleased, could retire knowing that a Democratic president would replace him with a liberal.

And if Hillary gets a Democratic Senate, she’ll be able to name whoever she wants to the Supreme Court. If Ginsburg, Kennedy, and Breyer leave the court, she could lock in a solid 6-3 liberal majority for a very long time.

Get your Benedict Option plans ready, folks.