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Monday, August 01, 2016

Trump is Modern Republicanism Purified 

by tristero

One more subtle effort to characterize Trump as a cancer on an otherwise rational, Republican party. 
Some in the press, especially on television, will continue to normalize Trump, treat him as if he were just another Republican candidate, which will give mainstream conservatives the cover they need to vote for him. But the more responsible members of the media who care more about the direction of this country than they care about their own neutrality or their clubbiness with fellow journalists, will continue to pummel Trump, hoping to disabuse this army of resentment of the notion that he will help them.
There is a false underlying assumption here, namely the notion of a reasonable "mainstream conservative." There is no such thing today.

Of course Trump should be pummeled. But that's because he is what passes for a "mainstream" conservative" today. It is because Trump is the quintessential modern Republican that he poses such a profound threat:

Dark, paranoid worldview? Nixon.

Narcissistic, thin-skinned and prone to mocking the powerless? George W. Bush, Chris Christie.

Incurious, inattentive, impulsive, and prone to shooting himself in the foot? Ronald Reagan, John McCain.

Extreme isolationism? Pat Buchanan, Rand Paul

Refusal to accept scientific facts? Inhofe, among nearly every other modern Republican.

Incompetent? Jindal. Bush, Jr. Scott Walker

Prone to playing the race card because it's politically opportunistic? Bush the Elder, Reagan.

Ignorant and belligerent? Limbaugh. Beck.

Favoring economic policies that favor the extremely wealthy? Koch brothers, every Republican president post-Eisenhower.

Comfortable with white supremacists? Rand Paul (and so many others).

Looked at this way, Trump's appeal is obvious. He fully expresses very single trait and policy that Republicans have been promoting since Goldwater. Conditioned to believe that "trusting your gut"is a good idea, that tax breaks for the rich will lead to prosperity, that doubling down on stupidity is a virtue, etc etc etc, Trump is the perfect incarnation of the modern Republican worldview.

Trump is no anomaly. And merely defeating him will change nothing. The Republican party itself needs to be defeated, and overhauled so that it becomes a truly rational and responsible party.

Ezra Klein is right: the Republican party is quite abnormal. But it has been so for a very, very long time.

UPDATE: As Paul Krugman points out, there are decent, rational Republicans. I even know some. But very few (if any) are running for any major office, either on the national or local level. For example, not a single Republican presidential candidate this year had the basic respect for reality to publicly accept evolution.

UPDATE 2: John McCain quoted by Sophia Tesfaye in Salon:
“While our Party has bestowed upon him the nomination, it is not accompanied by unfettered license to defame those who are the best among us,” McCain said. “I hope Americans understand that the remarks do not represent the views of our Republican Party, its officers, or candidates.”
It don't work like that, John. The presidential candidate your party nominated does, by definition, represent the party, its officers, and its candidates. As Tesfaye says, "unfortunately for McCain, who is locked in a tough primary battle this month, in 2016, Trump is the Republican party."

And most tellingly, "McCain’s statement ended with no indication he plans to withdraw his endorsement of Trump’s presidential campaign."