BuzzFeed's Jane Coaston gets it: the only thing that matters to Republicans in 2017 is "Does it piss off liberals, and how much?" There's no better symbol of that than musician Kid Rock, who appears to be serious about his Senate run against Debbie Stabenow in Michigan. The guy has zero credentials or skills other than making albums, but that doesn't really matter in the Age of Trump, does it?
Kid Rock says he wants to be Michigan’s next senator.
Some may think a man who recently sold his 8,300 square foot Balinese-style mansion in Malibu is an unlikely voice for the working people of Michigan, whose swing to the right helped send Donald Trump to the White House. But the author of hits like Black Chick, White Guy("his dick was metal / her pussy was a magnet”) can, in fact, represent the voice of a very specific Republican voter, whose political identity can be summarized as "wants to stick it to liberals."
Pissing off liberals is what the Republican party does best right now. If your political identity is any more conservative than that, you might have a hard time voting for Kid Rock, a supporter of the legalization of all drugs whose position on abortion is “it’s not up to a man to tell a woman what to do.” Take away the commitment to offending liberal snowflakes, and he’s basically Libertarian Party presidential candidate Gary Johnson, if Johnson had once briefly served as the lead singer for both Metallica and Guns N’ Roses.
Which is to say that Kid Rock is not really a conservative, or even someone who pretends to be one. And that’s just fine with many conservatives. As The Federalist put it, he may currently lack "a cogent list of reasons why he wants the job," but will benefit from "a blood connection through his baby’s momma with African-Americans” — as well as the fact that his Democratic opponent “resembles an overweight, scolding aunt.” Kurt Schlichter, of conservative news site Townhall.com, wrote that Kid Rock deserved to be elected to the Senate for the following reasons: He will annoy liberals, and he will also annoy conservative columnist George Will. "We’re past voting for the ideology," he wrote. "Now we’re ready to vote for the id."
"Vote for the Id" would make a pretty solid tagline for Republican politics circa 2017. The policy conversations and conflicts and basic premises that once governed conservatism — or at least appeared to — have been largely replaced by a set of principles built on the rock-solid foundation of irritating liberals.
After winning a presidential election with a candidate who had no serious conservative bona fides, the Republican Party has come to an important conclusion: Conservatism doesn't sell all that well. Telling Americans in desperate need of affordable health care that free markets will somehow sort it out someday is not a popular policy prescription — and Republicans have essentially given up on trying to enact those changes in the first place, settling instead for gesturing dismissively in its general direction. It turns out that many people, including President Donald Trump, kind of like Big Government, especially when a six-figure hospital bill is staring them down.
So amid the quagmire of the Obamacare repeal effort, Republicans are learning once more that being opposed to something is far easier than building consensus in support of something else. And fortunately for their party, plenty of voters also seem to enjoy focusing their searing anger onto other people and relishing in their apparent suffering, conservative values be damned.
Once again, as long as the person in question is willing to run to make Obama voters suffer, Republicans will vote for them every time. There's no hope in courting them by the left, they'll never vote for a Deocrat as long as they live. But they'll vote for anybody with an R next to their name, anyone, even a faux northern redneck asshole from a millionaire family like Kid Rock, as long as their campaign promise starts with "I will make liberals angry, because screw them."
That's literally the only qualification you need to be a Republican and get 40% of the vote minimum in any election in America, and in about two-thirds of states, that's probably a win.
We'll see what happens in 2018.