Naive Pundits

I really don’t know if it was all the Aaron Sorkinesque praises of “real America” but the Pundit class doesn’t seem to understand politics very well or why Donald Trump would receive and endorsement from Jerry Falwell.

Even Nate Silver thinks this means the Republican Party is failing.  Why? Because he thinks the party is no longer capable of nominating a Presidential candidate that advances the agendas of all of their factions.

But that presumes that Donald Trump’s failure to be a doctrinaire market conservative or a religious fundamentalist means that. It doesn’t. Because the Republican party isn’t just a coalition of business, fundamentalists, small government purists, and hawks.[1] Since the realignment of the parties in the 60s at least, and arguably since the end of World War II, the Republican Party has been the White Christian Nationalist party. If you see that as the center of gravity for Republicans, then Trump’s candidacy makes perfect sense.

Just think about what all of those tired liberal charges of hypocrisy against Republicans are saying after all. They favor small government but want to regulate contraception or abortion? Well, not exactly. Those are two “wings” of the Republican coalition. But the reason they work together, the reason these folks have an easier time imagining a low tax world where abortion is illegal than a high tax one where it’s illegal or vice versa is because that world is a Saturday Evening Post cover. It’s every white person’s gossamer memory of the 1950s. In that world, unwanted children are a problem for other people. Paying taxes to support them is to support other people.

This may just be an Instrumentalist Theory of the GOP. It may not actually be “real” in anyone’s head but it perfectly explains their behavior in the last 70 years.

So, in sum, what I’m saying is, there may be some Republicans who have a red line on abortion or a red line or privatizing social security or a red line on this issue or that, but they are mostly willing to operate under the banner of someone who will use those as chits to preserve the world dominating role of the American white christian middle class.

I think this also explains the other side of it: why Obama using markets to improve healthcare from the libertarian/small government think tank wing of the GOP, why Clinton making the economy boom and enacting ideas from the same, while also tickling the law and order G-spot with the crime bill and welfare reform, or Carter balancing the budget did nothing or in fact made Republicans hate them more. Because those ideas are not sacrosanct to them the way that preventing the universalizing of opportunity or the changing of identity roles are.

[1] There are liberal evangelicals like Jimmy Carter, pro-business Democrats like Bill Clinton, Hawkish Democrats like Joe Lieberman, Jim Webb, or even, according to liberals, Barack Obama. There are “small government” governing Democrats like Bill Clinton and Al Gore who wrote “The Gore Report on Reinventing Government.” There are taxcutting Democrats like Kennedy. There are Neoliberal Democrats and Neoconservative Democrats. There are isolationist and globalist Democrats. There are even a few Democrats who aren’t “gun grabbers.” None of these things alone, therefore, can be sufficient to be liked by Republicans.

 

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