Trump Reflects the Transformation of the GOP

John Cassidy comments on the “larger reality” that Trump’s style of campaigning reflects.

“With Trump in a strong position to win the primary, Republicans are engaged in a bitter battle not just about who will represent them in November, but about the broader nature of their party. For the past forty years, the G.O.P. has been an uneasy alliance of social conservatives, free-market conservatives, and corporate interest groups, with the latter largely dictating economic policy. Trump has been drawing on a base of alienated white working-class and middle-class voters, seeking to remake the G.O.P. into a more populist, nativist, avowedly protectionist, and semi-isolationist party that is skeptical of immigration, free trade, and military interventionism.”

“To transform a political party, you need a clear message, a broad electoral base, and allies within the existing power structure. Trump now has all three of these things. As I’ve pointed out before, his claim that Washington is broken and can only be fixed by an outsider resonates with many Americans, and not just arch-conservatives. So does his demagoguery about illegal immigrants and the supposed threat that Muslims present. What is perhaps more surprising, at least to Washington-based conservatives, is how many Republicans are also embracing Trump’s populist lines on ending free trade, protecting Social Security, and providing basic health care.”

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  • pisher

    The closest analogue in modern times–

    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Barry_Goldwater

    But look how different. Much as I despise Goldwater’s politics, he was a fine man, and an outstanding American, who never attacked President Johnson personally in the entire campaign. He later spoke out against many of the extremes in his own party that he planted the seeds for. He’d be considered much too liberal today to run for any high office as a Republican.

    Trump doesn’t have Goldwater’s intellectual coherence, his policy expertise, his experience as a Senator–but what we’re seeing now is something remarkably similar, as the party base, tired of being taken for granted, looks for somebody who reflects their values. They think that’s Trump. For their sake, I hope they are mistaken.

    I doubt Trump has the staying power to reshape the party he’s decided to take over, but he certainly can do what Goldwater did–get rid of the old leadership, and make room for new leaders–who might be even worse.

    First as tragedy, then as farce.

  • rightwingrick

    Well, all the “establishment” seems to agree he’s a con man and that he has no policy depth whatsoever. And then Cruz, Rubio, and Kasich all say at the end of the debate they would support him if he wins the nomination. This single fact outlines what’s terribly wrong with the Republican Party right now….party and power are more important than what’s best for the Country.

    • pisher

      Romney did say he’d write somebody in if Trump were the nominee (not himself, he insists).

      But Romney’s not running for anything now. For any of the remaining candidates to say they’d support Hillary–who is probably the only one who can stop Trump now–would be political suicide.

      They’ve always welcomed renegades like Zell Miller and Joe Lieberman–praised their courage–never called them traitors.

      Time for some Republicans to cross the aisle–much more reason for it now than ever before. And Christine Todd Whitman might just be willing to go public about it, and maybe trigger a brief crisis of conscience, that will bring some Republicans over to the Democrat side, just to prevent President Trump from becoming reality.

      Don’t look for that kind of courage from any office seeker, though.

  • a lot of present day GOPs are going to be left without a party

  • enfuegobuddha

    I think there’s a few policy issues that are catching up to the party among the blue collar republicans.

    Tax breaks largely viewed as being slanted toward those with higher income.
    Massive spending on overseas wars and the veterans they create.
    And lack of infrastructure spending within the US relative to the massive spending on the military.

    Also, Americans are increasingly starting to view politicians–on both sides of the aisle–as elitists who see themselves as above the average citizen. Voters like the idea that we elect candidates to serve the population.

  • enfuegobuddha

    I think there’s a few policy issues that are catching up to the party among the blue collar republicans.

    Tax breaks largely viewed as being slanted toward those with higher income.
    Massive spending on overseas wars and the veterans they create.
    And lack of infrastructure spending within the US relative to the massive spending on the military.

    Also, Americans are increasingly starting to view politicians–on both sides of the aisle–as elitists who see themselves as above the average citizen. Voters like the idea that we elect candidates to serve the population.

    • O_day

      Wouldn’t that be something–a President and Congress that would lead the Country by refusing foreign entanglements (i.e., war), legislating an everyone-provides-his-fair share tax code, and the spending of tax dollars on renewing this Country’s infrastructure!

      • pisher

        It sounds like a fantasy.

        And those are best left to the imagination, because when you make them real, they never work out as planned.

        “Foreign entanglements”? Are you typing this from the 18th century?

        We had them back then too. They are unavoidable. No land is an island (least of all the ones that are actual islands). We trade with other countries, we get immigrants from them, we visit them, we retire to them.

        I don’t think Americans appreciate just how many prerogatives they have that citizens of many less happier lands would envy.

        Well, they don’t come for free. I’m all for avoiding war whenever possible, but if we abandon our place in the world’s power structure, someone else will occupy it, and odds are it won’t be someone we can trust to have our best interests at heart.

        America doesn’t get to retire, the way Great Britain did (and the Brits have never stopped kibitzing since then).

        As for the ‘everyone provides his fair share’ thing–I really hope you don’t mean the flat tax. That hasn’t worked. If you mean the Sanders soak the rich thing, I’m for more of that–but let’s fact it–it wouldn’t pay for half of what he wants to do. He’d soak everybody, and people would get mad, and he’d get voted out (if he lived long enough to get voted out).

        Stay the damn course. You don’t ever get to a destination worth reaching that easy. It takes time. And consistency. But we just keep changing direction, changing parties, changing politics, one foot at sea and one on shore, to one thing constant never.

        Let’s at least try the same basic approach for three consecutive terms.

      • pisher

        It sounds like a fantasy.

        And those are best left to the imagination, because when you make them real, they never work out as planned.

        “Foreign entanglements”? Are you typing this from the 18th century?

        We had them back then too. They are unavoidable. No land is an island (least of all the ones that are actual islands). We trade with other countries, we get immigrants from them, we visit them, we retire to them.

        I don’t think Americans appreciate just how many prerogatives they have that citizens of many less happier lands would envy.

        Well, they don’t come for free. I’m all for avoiding war whenever possible, but if we abandon our place in the world’s power structure, someone else will occupy it, and odds are it won’t be someone we can trust to have our best interests at heart.

        America doesn’t get to retire, the way Great Britain did (and the Brits have never stopped kibitzing since then).

        As for the ‘everyone provides his fair share’ thing–I really hope you don’t mean the flat tax. That hasn’t worked. If you mean the Sanders soak the rich thing, I’m for more of that–but let’s fact it–it wouldn’t pay for half of what he wants to do. He’d soak everybody, and people would get mad, and he’d get voted out (if he lived long enough to get voted out).

        Stay the damn course. You don’t ever get to a destination worth reaching that easy. It takes time. And consistency. But we just keep changing direction, changing parties, changing politics, one foot at sea and one on shore, to one thing constant never.

        Let’s at least try the same basic approach for three consecutive terms.

  • embo66

    “What is perhaps more surprising, at least to Washington-based conservatives, is how many Republicans are also embracing Trump’s populist lines on ending free trade, protecting Social Security, and providing basic health care.”

    This is the same old blindness we’ve been seeing for months now. Yet the author already pointed out the cause for this new-found populism: “For the past forty years, the G.O.P. has been an uneasy alliance of social conservatives, free-market conservatives, and corporate interest groups, with the latter largely dictating economic policy.

    What’s good for a corporation is NOT typically good for people. Democrats have always known this; about damn time the Republicans began to understand it, too.

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