Republicans’ Chief Concern: Trump’s Policies Speak to Their Base

Ezra Klein notes that while Republicans can content themselves that Donald Trump “isn’t really a Republican, and as the primary grinds on, Republican voters will figure that out,” there’s a more worrying interpretation: Trump is “willing to cater to the opinions of the Republican base in ways that the Republican establishment wouldn’t dare. And in doing so, he can exploit longstanding cleavages between the Republican Party and the voters it represents.”

“The broader issue here is that both parties are, at best, imperfect reflections of their bases … The gap between the rigid agendas followed by the party establishments and the more diverse opinions of loyal partisans leaves both parties vulnerable to a candidate like Trump who has the money, and the star power, to campaign on a platform that party elites would normally suppress.”

“And that’s what makes a candidate like Trump potentially dangerous. On immigration, Trump holds a hard-line position that the Republican Party establishment has tried to mute, and so far Republican voters are loving it. On Social Security and Medicare, Trump — who opposes cuts — is closer to Republican voters than the party establishment is. On free trade deals, Trump shares a skepticism held by about half of Republican voters, but that’s usually suppressed by the party’s powerful business wing.”

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