What’s the Matter With Republicans?

How the party of Trump became a liberal caricature.

Comments: 143

  1. You need to distinguish between Trump the carnival barker and the legislation he is willing to sign. Trump did not design the trio of failed GOP "repeal and replace" bills. I doubt he has had much input on taxes. The naked Trojan horses Trump has wheeled into the EPA and other regulatory bodies as are the judges he has nominated were fed to him. If Douthat wants to chastise the GOP for tolerating Trump, fine. But the policies Trump is pushing are the GOP's. The problem is the GOP.

  2. What's the problem with Republicans? One word. Trump. Republicans went for the tawdry glitter and now they may have the White House but they also have a huge problem.

  3. Trump is a symptom, not the cause.

  4. What's wrong with the Republican Party? Well, when you consistently get into bed with people who simply want to Believe, sooner or later that's going to rub off on you and make you abandon reason and fact based argument. Behold the modern Republican: I believe that tax cuts for the wealthy create jobs rather than simply increasing profits for businesses and wealth disparity. I believe that deregulation spurs economic growth rather than creating bubbles that burst to the detriment of the economy. I believe that free markets and unrestrained capitalism can solve all problems rather than leading to poor working conditions, expendable employees, child labor and unchecked environmental damage. I believe in limited government as in the divine right of the federal government to limit the rights of anybody's world view or concept of morality does not agree with mine. I believe that liberals are evil because they believe that government can be used to solve problems and they've had successes that would be inconvenient if I actually believed in facts.

  5. As a general thing, I have not 'duped the world' nor attempted to do so... I have generally given people the worth of their money twice told. P. T. Barnum Describes the Republican Party.

  6. Ross I have news for you the Republican party you seem to speak of is dead and gone. The election of this man to the White House was it's end. Right now as we speak the party is split into 3 factions that cannot stand each other. Look for a far-right Bannon party to take over or be a third party.

  7. Correction: Gingrich was the beginning of the end.

  8. And Trump is the end of the end.

  9. What continues to be missing from critiques of Trump policy proposals is who is making them. Certainly not Trump, who has neither the intellect nor interest in formulating complete sentences, let alone policy. Trump is a garbled messenger for someone in his circle of advisors. Is it still Bannon? Is it Miller? Not enough attention is being paid to those who are pulling the strings.

  10. The GOP donors seem especially interested in the tax cuts.

  11. Grover Norquist on the GOP candidates: All we need is someone who can 'handle a pen' (or something to that effect) The Rep donors sure got what they wished for, didn't they?

  12. Well, I am glad you see that Trump is a con. But Kansas itself validated Frank's argument before Trump. Kansas took supply side economics to its logical conclusion and it was a disaster. Eventually the Republican legislature had to overrule Brownback and raise taxes. Nixon invited disaffected Democrat racists into the party. Reagan pushed the lie that the government is the enemy. According to the constitution, government is how democracy does things. By be willing to do or say anything to get tax cuts for the rich, the Republicans and Fox trained their base to love a Trump. The reason why the social issue wars are fake, is that neither party is really trying to solve these problems. Instead they are used to distract from economic issues, on which about two thirds of the country want higher taxes on the super rich and global corporations, universal healthcare, cheaper education, and infrastructure. Even Trump ran on the of these four issues. Meanwhile economics determines who gets the basics they need to thrive. Social issues are not as important. What is wrong with Democrats? They do not push the economic issues that majorities of voters agree on. Why not?

  13. We would have to agree on what is the "common good" for this article to have any effect. And, of course, that will never happen.

  14. Thanks for this observation, which ranks high in the annals of faint praise: "not everything about the Bush era was disastrous."

  15. It is hard to defend BUsh's economic policies to help the middle classes when he cut taxes which created a huge deficit and brought on the financial crisis.

  16. Personally, I think one reason the Republicans in Congress don't repudiate Trump is because down the road they can run just about ANY candidate and that one - by comparison - will seem reasonable and voters - relieved to see the Republicans return to "sanity" - will happily vote R.

  17. Trump is the result of Republican ideas all along. They have promoted ideas with no evidence, or worked to suppress the facts. Spiro Agnew was famous for his dismissal of intellectuals. Dick Cheney, divided CIA data about Iraq into two piles, agent reports that supported his ideas, and those against, he buried the latter. Ignore the science behind global warming. Ignore the number of guns in this country and its link to murders in this country. Ignore the healthcare needs of this country. Let them buy cheap health insurance, which as most people who buy cheap insurance know, it's great as long as you don't need it. Ignore data about the top 1% richest who are not making decent jobs for Americans, why not make them richer and then they will start creating jobs. Drill for oil in pristine waters, it's safe. Dig for coal, workers are fine, the air is clean. Abortion, no one favors abortions. Laws were enacted because rich women could always get safe, clean abortions and will continue to do so no matter what restrictions are made, the less well off had to resort to dirty back room abortions. Women died. Republicans have for a long time ignored facts, rather choosing, their own financial benefits. Open market for health care? shop around for the best care when you have been injured or diagnosed with cancer. Their first priority is themselves, Trump is the epitome of this.

  18. What's the matter with social conservatives may be that their values blow away in the face of a gentle breeze of prosperity gospel. Said another way, in their view God wants them to be wealthy more than he cares about their adherence to the 10 commandments. In that light, it's easy to see why Trump is their guy.

  19. "Far better to have a president who really sticks it to those overpaid babies in the N.F.L. and makes the liberals howl with outrage — that’s what a real and fighting conservatism should be all about!" This just follows the argument used a lot in the GOP models of economic policy , namely that the most important part of a business plan is to get maximum returns for the investor. The NFL is getting maximum return for its investors but paying their players, you say overpaying, for a product that would not exist with out the players. If more business models realized that the most important player is the employee EVERYONE would succeed. Remember this, they would not be "over payed" if the owners weren't making loads and loads of money.

  20. I am struck by a comment from Speaker Ryan, today, regarding the Republican tax reform/cut framework. His profundity is deeper than I have seen in the past: "Higher wages lead to bigger paychecks!" This must become the first plank in the Republican platform. And even Trump, a non-economist, can understand it-----I think. Maybe its that new Wisconsin air, the Scott Walker stench wafting across the plains.

  21. I’m trying wrap my head aroma d the difference between higher wages and bigger paychecks. It sounds tautological to me

  22. When conservatives bray"...some moral questions are more important than where to set the top tax rate", it has a chilling effect. It is kind of like claiming the cause of the Civil War was about states rights and the limits of federalism. These days, the moral question generally is about sex; and the holy grail seems to be passing laws to discourage and punish all but heterosexual married couples who are trying to have children who do it. Ross Douthat is never shy about proclaiming his faith, which as an American, is his right. Morality is a personal matter, left best to individuals, families, and willing communities. In its narrowness, it is a lousy basis for public policy. Setting the top tax rate, on the other hand, is what public policy, and politics, is about. So is guaranteeing the rights of all people to live their lives according to their own beliefs. Not his.

  23. No he was right. He was right then. He is even more right now. They see the writing on the wall and they are pushing hard and faster and being more obvious, but he was right then, and he is right now.

  24. Wow, never thought I would agree so much with Ross Douthat.

  25. To those of you who hate the government: Have you ever used 911? Did you drive on a public road today? have you ever been in a car accident and were grateful that your seatbelt worked? Do you appreciate your Fireman, policeman, Air Traffic controller, National Park Ranger? Did you ever feel a bit of Schadenfreude when the Highway Patrol officer pulled over that idiot driving at top speed and weaving in and out of traffic? Do you still hate all government, want to make it so small that you can drown it in your bathtub and free you from paying any taxes...taxes which pay for all of the above? Instead of whining about how you wish for the good old days when Reagan was selling arms to Iran, Bush lied about WMD's in Iraq and led the country to the very brink of economic disaster; fix Kansas. Stop government promotion of marriage, family planning or promotion of one religion. Republicans, want to win again? Start governing and stop whining. No moral issue is involved in building bridges, and schools, paying teachers and firefighters or helping those brought low by disasters. And if you believe that there are, that some roads are too morally corrupt to deserve fixing, that some firefighters hold the wrong religious beliefs to fight fires, then there is something wrong with your values.

  26. They're pontificating "holier than thou" hypocrites.

  27. I really couldn't get beyond the title of this column. It would take an encyclopaedia to answer this question.

  28. Before Ross Douthat succeeds in seatng George W. Bush in the pantheon of the greats, next to Jefferson, Lincoln and the Roosevelts, let's not forget for a minute that Mr. Bush's unnecessary tax cuts favored the wealthy, greatly increasing wealth inequality, and are responsible for approximately 40% of the present federal deficit. He began with peace and a surplus and gave us deficits, Iraq and the Great Recession. In his favor, he didn't grab women by their genitals and assault female magazine reporters in one room while his pregnant wife waited in the adjacent room. That isn't setting the bar very high. The Republican Party is a fraud and a con and has been for decades. Republican leaders and their deep-pocketed supporters, mix greed with stupidity and call it governance. Morality is a minor consideration for them.

  29. The conservative answer to everything--look backwards. Thanks Ross.

  30. Selfish, bullying, all trump really wants is to cut the estate tax and the AMT--the only two taxes that have or will hurt him and his family. Just like milking the government for his hotels, his estates, his golf courses, his only plan is to enrich himself.

  31. If anyone wants to know why Donald Trump will continue to be popular in the heartland, just read the article by Lindy West in today’s NYT. Also, browse the comments. Trump voters don’t believe that either party will help them economically. They are not stupid. But, they know what they don’t like, and they know what they fear about the future of this country.

  32. Look at where many of the commenters supportive of Ms. West's essay are writing from: South Dakota, Wisconsin, Michigan, New Mexico, Maine, Pennsylvania, Ohio, and, yes, New York, Massachusetts, and California. You don't get to define "the heartland," or speak for everyone out there.

  33. And why do they believe the Democrats won't help them economically? Because centrist Democrats refuse to try to promise the working class anything.

  34. case of cutting off the nose to spite the face.

  35. I rather wish that Trump was like Conan, who, upon becoming king, sided with the common people against the predations of avaricious nobles.

  36. Trump is an avaricious noble.

  37. The 800 pound elephant nobody wants to talk about is the right-wing media complex, feeding anger, resentment and bile 24/7 to 35% of my fellow Americans.

  38. Taking a page out of Bush's playbook, or contemplating "real conservatism" is a waste of time at this point; mainly because the Republican billionaire donors (Koch, Mercer, and Co.) are 50 steps ahead and wanting what is best for middle America is not on their agenda. Why do you think the TeaParty was formed? They don't want America as it was or is and they don't want what is best for the country--they want what is best for themselves and the rest of the 0.1% and they want it now.

  39. Hey Koch Brothers, that's what I what too.

  40. Mr. Ross, would you compare the Sam Brownback Kansas experiment to the Jerry Brown California experiment?

  41. Yes look what W did for (to?) the middle class. A pittance tax cut, runaway deficits, a seemingly permanent war, and a close encounter with the great depression. Please add the rise of the so-called Tea party (basically a front for the Koch brothers). We then follow that up with the Obama years where a coterie of maniacs have taken control of the government with the ongoing blessing of the leadership in their enforcing what was once called the Hastert rule. Oh, and don't forget that the Bush tax cuts were built on a lie where a 'sunset' provision would make everything all better. Where were the Republicans when armed people showed up around Obama rallies, why were they mealy mouthed about the 'birther' controversy. Face it, you and the rest of the 'conservative intellectuals' stood silent as the current party was built, lie by lie, hate by hate, constantly trying to sell what most actual surveys show the actual people don't want. Oh yes and supporting a mad man for the Presidency.

  42. Reagan said "government is not the solution, government is the problem." He then cut taxes and ballooned the deficit. The rest is history. This is a good start Ross, but I think the mendacity goes far deeper than you are willing to see.

  43. The distribution of wealth has far more effect on society - particularly on morbidity and mortality - than "some moral questions". It is THE overriding moral question. Mr. Douthat conveniently selectively interprets Frank's book. What happened to Kansas wasn't simply about "where to set the top tax rate". It was about middle-class people voting for an economic agenda that laid waste to Kansas and to their own communities because those who wished to redistribute wealth to the wealthiest used "moral" issues to effectively hide their agenda in plain sight. Jesus mentions the poor and castigates the wealthy many, many times. He mentions the hot-button issues of the fundamentalist christian right - virtually never. He would be as scandalous today as he was then - to the same people.

  44. "Republicans, in the Bush era and before, did make a concerted effort to deliver for the middle class." You probably mean Bush Sr. These type of republicans all died when Bush Sr left office. George W Bush did nothing for the middle class.He did Medicare Part D reluctantly and then gave billions to big pharma. His tax cut was almost as bad as Trump's. I think it was Clinton's Presidency that did something to republicans. They have been lying ever since about their goals - working exclusively for the rich.

  45. Bush's "Social Security Reform"? You mean where he tried to mandate that Americans had to buy retirement insurance (sorta like the ACA mandate for health insurance) but he would also keep paying existing SS benefits but without any more inflow of payroll tax? You mean the scheme that would have enriched the mutual fund industry, removed the guaranteed income of Social Security, and blown up the deficit by nearly a trillion dollars? Yeah, reform.

  46. Nicely argued. Sadly, however, there is nothing smart and caring conservatives can do about Trump. He is what he is, and he's not going to change. Sad. Very very very sad.

  47. If you'd like to know the main difference in the political climate between now and 15 years ago, and why gop politicans seem so much more beholden to their donor class (the ultra rich) and their needs than the desires and needs of their voters, I have two words for you: Citizens United.

  48. Ockham's razor would imply that Frank was right rather than prescient. Because you can point to a few policies that might have helped the middle class it doesn't undermine the overall thesis.

  49. Some moral questions *are* more important than where one should set the top tax rate. For example, "Why does your leader lie so much?" would be just one such question.

  50. If you lived through Ronald Reagan and George H.W. Bush's political campaigns you would understand Frank's thesis. It was born from the premeditated culture wars launched by Lee Atwater and his Republican acolytes. The entire game was to separate the Democratic Party from non-college educated white voters by distracting them from the GOP's elitist agenda. Ross, how else do you explain the elder Bush's embracing of the Willie Horton ad? Do you remember that ad? It depicted a very large black man going through a prison turnstile. The ad was the work of none other than Roger Ailes — he of the family values wing of the Republican Party. Does anyone recall the biggest issue of the 1988 campaign? No, it wasn't taxes, trade or the deficit. It was the pressing issue of flag burning. Bush took the bold position of opposing it. All of this continues today and gave birth to Trump. Republicans paved the way for the Monster in the White House through their relentless promotion of culture wars.

  51. Douthat fails to mention the unfathomable, unwritten epilogue to "What's The Matter With Kansas?". Since that book was written, Kansas elected Gov. Brownback who enacted extreme Republican economic policies. The tax cuts failed to trickle down, the state economy tanked, severe cuts had to be made to public education to help pay for the mess he made... AND THEY RE-ELECTED HIM! What's the matter, indeed.

  52. "So “What’s the Matter With Kansas?” was a poor guide to the party of Reagan and George W. Bush . . . ." Um, no. First, Frank's book claimed that the change in Republican strategy started in the early 90's, well after Reagan -- so the book wasn't supposed to be a guide to Reagan's party. Second, the Bush tax cuts were heavily skewed to the top 1% (roughly 30% of the benefits went to the top 1%) -- so the book was in fact an accurate guide to the party of G.W. Bush. Trump's tax cuts are even more heavily skewed toward the super wealthy. Trump is just continuing the Republican strategy that Frank identified -- only, he's doubling down on it.

  53. Well, Bruni is right about Republicans voting their values. Middle class Republicans wanted the economy to work for them, but they decided that issue wasn't as important to them as having a government that represses gay people, keeps out brown immigrants, and keeps minorities in their place.

  54. Don't forget the desire to control women's bodies, too.

  55. You don't only have to believe that some moral questions are more important than the tax rates. You also have to believe that moral questions should be decided by the government and enshrined into law.

  56. What we're seeing is what happens when you sell your soul.

  57. True, IF you had one in the first place.

  58. There is very little "moral" about Kansas, whether Topeka, Manhattan, Wichita or Dodge City. It's been Brownbacked into third world status.

  59. Unfortunately, the 1% still are doing fine, and that was the real goal. No one else matters to them.

  60. Thoughts: Republican “values voter” is simply a polite way of saying someone who would impose his/her beliefs on everyone, if possible. There is not a single part of the New Deal that Republicans have not railed against or longed to over turn. The Republican Party has been race-baiting since Nixon. Reagan, both Bushes. Trump. If one considers the Dixiecrat Party of the late '40s as a precursor to today's Republican Party, even longer. "The path out of caricature requires a different moral vision. It requires new ideas and new thinking and new models of leadership." Nice sentiment, but if conservatives (is there really any other kind of Republican today?) had "new ideas", new thoughts, "new models of leadership" they wouldn't be conservatives, would they. As the founder of modern conservatism, William F. Buckley, Jr. famously stated, unequivocally, in the first issue of “National Review” (1955), his conservative mandate was to stand “athwart history, yelling Stop.”

  61. But the question, "Where to set the top tax rate?" IS a moral question.

  62. The moral vision the Republican religious supporters really need is one that comes only from a clear view of the Constitution, specifically the part about the government NOT favoring one religion over others. The "moral" issues these people want the government to promote are just their religious beliefs, not everyone's and so they should not be promoted by the government. It is not "moral" to want to force your opinions about birth control, abortion, and gay rights on everyone. It is your right to live your own life according to those beliefs, but it is not your right . . . and it's not "moral" . . . to force those beliefs on everyone else. If passing laws against everyone else's freedom is "moral," I support immorality.

  63. In other words, people can't be trusted to recognize a threat to their own interests. The tragedy of democracy is that raw numbers of votes have become starkly more important than any content or intent. What distinguishes the GOP from the Dems in this respect is that the former unabashedly exploit this. Both by the rhetoric they use, which is often devoid of provable meaning but tailored exquisitely to excite the basest of instincts, and by their command of lower tier legislatures, which seek to perpetuate electoral majorities through a variety of barely legal measures, at least when tested against the intentions behind the relevant legislation. At the end of the day, a signal failure of (American) democracy is that it counts constituencies, rather than voters' overall preferences. Add to this the decidedly outdated Electoral College and its practice of handing entire States to one side or another, and the people's will becomes subjugated to the whims of surprisingly small number of voters. These are easily identified and manipulated. The factuality of having only two options to choose from makes this even easier, as highlighting (caricatures of) specific policies proposed by the opponent as particularly odious will often suffice to obtain an abstention at the very least. To make matters worse still, even the ones who do see through the mist are likely to abandon the process altogether, often entirely thereby handing the keys of the kingdom to a demagogue like Trump.

  64. I remember getting a one time tax refund check of $600 for my "middle class" tax cut. Except there was a deficit. Which means he gave me a check and put the bill on my credit card, and the credit card of our children and grandchildren. Of course, W. was just following in the footsteps of Reagan. And wait till we see the Trump / Ryan / McConnell tax deficits they give us and our children and grandchildren. But the Republicans are great at marketing their brand and people still think the Republicans are the fiscal conservatives.

  65. I remember that check. That marketing gimmick that had no other purpose than to trick average people into falling for more tax cuts for the rich. Very slick. The Republicans want the money, and if it means destroying the country, all the better. No government means no regulations - the perfect environment for the crooks that they are.

  66. Whether you live in Topeka or Manhattan, you just have to believe that some moral questions are more important than where to set the top tax rate. ********* Dear Ross, Kansas State is in Manhattan. Manhattan is in Kansas. Trickle down still doesn't work, and the "moral stakes and their role in shaping the ecology of everyday life" does not give government the right to tell me what to do with my body. What's wrong with the Republican Party is that it adherents choose brief over fact, and deny science.

  67. So if you're voting for morals, I can only assume you're voting Democratic across the board.

  68. How wrong thee are, let me count the ways........ (With apologies to William Shakespeare) 1. They're just plain evil 2. They only think of themselves 3. It's all about the money 4. They'll rip the wings off any legislation that was good for everyone 5. They have no good morals 6. They enact legislation counter-productive to women 7. They are holier than thou, and cannot do anything wrong 8. Their was is the only way 9. They are prejudiced against certain groups of people 10.They are just plain rotten to the core

  69. I've seen a variety of responses - obviously the country did not vote economics in 2016. But one respondent mentioned that he voted his 'morals' first and everything else 2nd. My own philosophy is that liberty is more important than money. So neither of us vote on economic principles, but of the two major parties, he will vote Republican and I will vote Democrat. Because the Democrats ARE the party that supports liberty and Republicans have been known for defending morality (not sure why a morality voter would touch Trump though). The problem arises in that morality is subjective - it's fine to live a moral life, but your morals and mine may differ - and you're in the wrong when you push your morals on anyone else. So voting for morals first is against the ideals this country was founded on. Voting first on liberty, however, is exactly in line with what those men who wrote the Declaration of Independence and then the Constitution thought most important. I don't mind if you keep your morals. Why do you want to take away my liberties? What happened to "I don't agree with what you say, but I'll fight for your right to say it"?

  70. "What's the matter with Republicans?" Look in the mirror, Mr. Douthat.

  71. As someone who attended a conservative "Christian" college and who listened to lectures about the evils of situation ethics in the philosophy class I took there, I'm not willing to give "religious conservatives who supported Trump reluctantly and in a transactional spirit" a pass, as Ross Douthat seems to want to do. I know that there are many intelligent religious conservatives who must have realized how unfit Trump is for this office and what a bad deal they were signing on to, and yet they supported him anyway. Helping that man, with his obviously bad character and extremely questionable judgment, attain the most powerful office in the world, with access to nuclear weapons, was unforgivable.

  72. "You don't have to be a dupe to be a 'values voter' of one sort or another: Whether you live in Topeka or Manhattan..." Manhattan NY or Kansas? Most Americans don't even know the latter exists. Just an observation. "...for all its failures, not everything about the Bush era was disastrous...." Well, that is certainly a ringing endorsement, isn't it? Yes sir, that kind of rationalization is what leads to president Donald Trump. Let's see what similar endorsements of Mr. Trump history revisionists will be able to come up with, assuming civilization survives the Trump madness.

  73. One of the first actions I remember Reagan taking was firing the striking air traffic controllers. I'd love to hear you explain how that was good for working people.

  74. I generally respect Douthat as an astute observer of politics and culture, but I think he really misses the mark on this column. Frank nailed 13 years ago what should be painfully obvious today: that the GOP is totally beholden to the donor class, and has been for decades. Their agenda is (partially) disguised by populist sounding double speak, and by throwing the occasional bone to the middle class (read: Medicare Part D). But the proof is in who really benefits from their policies. To pretend that this agenda is more associated with Trump's rise than inherent to the Republican playbook is disingenuous: all Trump did was rip off the veneer of the the rot of the republican party that's been obvious to at least half the country since the Reagan administration.

  75. Although there's a lot in this Opinion piece with which to disagree, the one topic avoided by Ross is deregulation by every Conservative president ever. The concept is that deregulation encourages economic growth, which trickles down to, well, everyone. In fact, time and again, it does not. What sunk Bush II is not that he wanted to expand home ownership: all presidents from Regan onward, tried to do so. Bush II continued to deregulate industry, including the banking sector. Expanded home ownership did not cause the economic crash, but deregulation did. The culture wars have be contrived by the industries that would like their sector to be deregulated so that their profits can be driven higher. This administration is no different in that fundamental Conservative thought. Deregulation does not benefit the middle or lower classes. When will the Conservatives learn this lesson?

  76. Some things that would help: End gerrymandering End Citizens United End voter suppression Open primaries (one primary for all parties) Proportional Electoral College in all states

  77. One of the most influential books I've ever read. Keep in mind it was written about Kansas, which has it's own history and culture, not about the GOP in general. The author was a newspaper reporter, at the time, and largely stays with "the facts". The book can absolutely be read on that level, and the reader left to form their own conclusions. By the time Frank starts adding his analysis you will have a boatload of your own theories. Having asked a question, and the books title itself is a question, Frank had to provide some answers.

  78. Are you quite serious? The Republican agenda is, and has been for decades, to starve the government of income until it collapses, because the increasingly Rand-ian party abhors public control and sharing of anything. That's what was behind GW Bush's entire tenure, not some idea of helping the working man. He launched the trillion dollar Iraq war and, yes, Medicare D, *while simultaneously lowering taxes.* Rather than tax and spend, he simply spent. The effects on the working class, among other things, is our current eroding infrastructure and disappearing social safety net... which of course makes people trust government even less, which only bolsters more anti-government sentiment. What we are seeing is the endgame of a GOP plan. And come on, Ross, you must know this by now.

  79. Mr. Douthat, have you looked at the real Kansas recently, the one that Sam Brownback and those true-blue conservative policies have taken to the very edge of disaster? That's what the matter with Kansas.

  80. Republicans seem to be one to the past-- Pres. Obama and Obama care for example. But they have been fighting Social Security since the inception of that program. To govern, one must be wedded to the future-- tomorrow, next month, next year, and next century.

  81. How come Thomas Frank's books, which are always retrospective/historical, are always so "prescient"? Because they were/are true; and they keep getting more and more true (per Douthat's description). You just didn't see it. Frank's most recent book, "Listen, Liberal" (https://www.nytimes.com/2016/05/01/books/review/listen-liberal-and-the-l... is also one that describes our current political situation compellingly, but given the Democratic establishment's schemes this past election, just keep getting more and more true. Our problem is that we have a duopoly of two misguided, economically neo-liberal, parties separated by culture wars. Remember (as per Frank) that Clinton gutted welfare, gutted labor (NAFTA, unions defanged), deregulated the banks, and was scheming with Newt to privatize Social Security. We need at least two more viable parties (with duopoly broken): both economically progressive, and representing cultural left and cultural right. No broken duopoly yet, but I choose the American Solidarity Party (solidarity-party.org), which is pro-life and pro-universal healthcare. It is essentially center-left on economics and center-right on culture. Though I think it needs to move a little more left on economics (which it can, because we're building it), such a party is what Kansas (and America) needs.

  82. "Whether you live in Topeka or Manhattan, you just have to believe that some moral questions are more important than where to set the top tax rate." The problem with this kind of thinking is that it leads to (as some persons I know do) adopting the position that if a cure and a vaccine for AIDS were found, they would actively try to discourage or prevent the widespread use of the vaccine or the cure, because the people 'whose iniquitous behaviour lead to their becoming infected with HIV' need to suffer their just punishment. Hopefully, normal people could agree that such a position is inhumane and immoral.

  83. Ross mentions "moral stakes." Well, what is less moral than refusing to fund health care for Americans? I'm not buying these "moral" arguments. Essentially they boil down to bigoted "Christian" avatars of patriarchy trying to tell everybody else what to do with their own private lives. Is that "moral" or is it simply authoritarian? I think it's authoritarian. I don't see the harm to the "ecology" of living and letting live. But I see tremendous harm in depriving people of health care, a clean and thriving environment and civil and human rights. I see a lot of harm in abusing women, yes abusing them by refusing to provide women with affordable health care and respecting women enough to allow them the privacy and dignity to decide what is best for their lives, their health and their families at a given time. Frankly, Ross Douthat, these private decisions are nobody's business. But the life of the commons is EVERYBODY's business. Nosy busy bodies whose interest, not a little prurient in other people's sexuality are not moral. They are just busy bodies. Denying people economic justice, health care, good public education, privacy and a thriving environment IS immoral. To the max. You know what? Karl Marx was right.

  84. The country was founded on working together for "the general Welfare". Ronald Reagan told us that this was nonsense, and that we were "rugged individualists". He put forth the idea wasn't "We the People" deciding what was best, but a bunch of outsider telling us how to live. And after Reagan, instead of working together we were now trying to protect ourselves from all the "rugged individuals" we were surrounded by. Reagan succeeded in the new incarnation of the gilded age, where the rich could get richer by betraying the people. That's what's wrong.

  85. If the Trump supporters want to vote against their own self-interest, fine; but it's my self-interest that hurts. Their immaturity is costing me in numerous ways and for that I'm bitter.

  86. Mr. Douthat: You really think that : A: the GOP of Reagan, Bush cared about middle and lower class people? Seriously? That's why they systematically destroyed the Unions, encouraged out-sourcing of jobs, always opposed benefits, etc. etc. etc. B: you think the current abomination of Trump is somehow disconnected to this same GOP that started with Reagan? That all of these people just suddenly went mad? That Trumpism has nothing to do with the last 37 years of GOP/Fox news/culture wars? That the inability of the modern GOP to govern has nothing to do with the sainthood of the President who famously said that "the government can't solve problems because the government IS the problem" ? You cannot see the through-line? Wow. Just. Wow.

  87. The final paragraph shows how devorced from reality Republicans are, assuming the writer is serious. The Party, since Reagan and Norquest has done nothing but impoverish the middle class,in order to cut taxes for the .01%.

  88. Democrats need to start using the same line with working class and middle class voters that the GOP tried to use with black voters: you've given the other party your vote almost 100% guaranteed, what have you gotten in return and have your lives improved?

  89. I got married to a man in 1983 who worked for HBO. He was a Harvard MBA. This was the heyday of cable television. Every seemed to have a bright future. I remember a co-worker that he had, lovely family, white, no college degree or whatever, donating the family's used tennis shoes to the "less-privileged (black) people in downtown Atlanta. This struck me as odd because at the time the less privileged people in downtown Atlanta were wearing $100.00 Air Jordans. My point is this, These are the same people who believe and identify as Republicans. They are the voters who now feel betrayed by the Repubs.

  90. The short answer to the question is Fox News. Look at their headlines for today focused on Hillary's emails and a plutonium deal from the Obama administration. Until someone is able to distract their audience with regular doses of reality it's difficult to imagine enlightenment.

  91. One problem with Republicans and libertarians is that the models they use are outdated and oversimplified. The concept of "market distortion," for example, means that a laboratory model of simplified decision-making has leapt out of its "is" housing into "should" policy, now untethered from the original ceteris paribus conditions. Thus, preference is restricted unnaturally to prices and utility. Sigh. But it is much worse. Libertarians ignore the knowledge economy that floats all boats, making "commoners" today better off than kings of old: it's not the cash, it's what you can buy with it. All one needs to go from the savanna to modernity is access the growing knowledge base. Yet, Johnny-come-last libertarians mistakenly think "I did it all myself," and so refuse to chip in to, say, taxes for education. Parasites, then. But there's more: conservatives are not systems thinkers, so they miss the links between phenomena and say, a healthy ecology and sustainable agriculture. Across the board, incomplete and misunderstood reasoning explains the idiocy of today's "dang certain" political right.

  92. there is a straight line from reagan to bush2 through palin (big uptick there) to the hockey stick at trumpism. the propaganda of the right political pandering aided by the right media crazyness just became more and more outlandish. it has reached a level that is hard to understand. it makes one realize that the basest instincts of opposition to the "other" which was used to create a republican voting block over 30 years is really a part of our country. SAD ! really.

  93. A very wise person many years ago told me "Watch not the nits while the elephants run amok." In reading this piece(I did read Mr. Frank's book) it occurs to me that the people who classify as value voters are in severe danger of being run over by the elephants as they are fixated on them while they focus on the nits. Only I don't think it applies only to tax rates but the important hypocritical stances that many who pander to the value voter push. One recent blaring example is the fine representative who stood adamantly against abortion while telling his lover that should she be pregnant he wanted her to have an abortion. So not only was he hypocritical on abortion but he was cheating on his wife. In my book this type of behavior (and there is not room here for me to list them all, nor the people in involved) may be more important than the tax rate at least for voting purposes. AND please, throw Ayn Rand under the bus and move on. The people who stick to her shtick are brain addled and confused. She wrote novels, we live in real life. Give it up already.

  94. Nothing much is the matter. Why if the club for tax cuts didn't have hordes of religious paranoids to mobilize through pleas to their fears and aggravation if their anger, we'd just have problems of de-industrialization and nuclear proliferation among pre-modern religious and neo-Communist militarist fanatics to worry about. Of course, if our current President were a little further up the IQ, erudition and equanimity scales, it'd be even easier.

  95. Kirstjen Nielsen, Trump's new appointee for Homeland Security (which oversees FEMA), was the key to the failures that led to 1800 American deaths in Hurricane Katrina. She was the critical point of contact who did NOT notify those in charge that the levees had breached and that immediate evacuation had to be carried out to save lives. She was President Bush's aide, and simply let the ball drop which led to the devastating 1800 deaths that occurred. Why hasn't the NYT pointed this out in a front page article? The Republican-controlled House of Representatives came to this conclusion, with all Democrats abstaining from any participation in the investigation of the catastrophe. This was the consensus of the Republicans that a key member of the Bush White House, who was specifically charged with this duty, failed at her post, resulting in the massive loss of lives in Louisiana. Yes, people can be forgiven, but they should NOT be put back in charge where their negligence to duty has already caused a catastrophe.

  96. Douthat frames the question correctly: not what is wrong with the Republican Party, but rather what is wrong with Republicans. The party as we see it today exists because its voters are willing to buy "the rhetoric of populism over an agenda that so far offers little or nothing to the middle class, making appeals to the religious right that are notable in their cynicism, and rallying his base through culture-war controversies distinguished mostly by their ginned-up phoniness." You get what you pay for. This leaves many of us, including former Republicans such as myself, feeling like we have been invaded and occupied by aliens from some horrible sci-fi flick. Reality has been in some way suspended. I am reminded of the old canard 'never try to teach a pig to sing - it wastes your time and annoys the pig.' This group of Republican voters will not accept contrary comments, no matter how well supported by facts, and especially from Democrats, and will only learn by suffering through a bad experience - a process that unfortunately for the rest of us would take years if not decades. Since they cannot be reasoned with, they must be defeated. Simple, but urgent.

  97. I will ask this of Mr. Douthat - 1. When is racism/ bigotry moral? 2. When is hate and fear-mongering moral? 3. When is vilifying the poor, the powerless and the desperate “Christian”? 4. When is morality defined by “abortion” debate alone? 5. Why is morality determined by “values voters” who are a small minority in this country? And on and on ... In short, GOP and social conservatism conserves nothing but hatred, decisiveness and a smoke screen for the Rich to steal away more power and money than they already have.

  98. If war were not profitable we wouldn't still have Eric Prince running a mercenary army under a new name. If crime didn't pay we wouldn't have Wall Street, or our profit prison system. If drug dealing were illegal big pharma wouldn't be profiting from the deaths of thousands of Americans per year. Legally. The core mission of America has always been exploitation. Of the poor, the disenfranchised, the weak, and is the logical extension of our origin story: Genocide and slavery. Since the birth of the nation the only unforgivable crime the rich can commit is failing to turn a profit. We preach human rights but we practice property rights at the expense of all else. This is what the rest of the world sees and we don't. Cheap low class hypocritical huckster that he may be, Trump really is us.

  99. since the GOP doesn't believe in government, it needs to change its name. Now let's see, what would OP stand for? ... how about Odious Persons.

  100. "Whether you live in Topeka or Manhattan, you just have to believe that some moral questions are more important than where to set the top tax rate." Did you do that on purpose Ross? Assume that New York readers would assume you meant Manhattan NY rather than Manhattan KS, about an hour west of Topeka? Oh the irony.

  101. "Republicans are like Red Sox fans, they're just not particularly gracious people"

  102. Yes, you don't have to be a dupe to be a values voter. But no, just because you are a values voter, does not mean that you are not a dupe. Whether or not values voters are more "dupe-able" than non-values voters is an open question. What is not an open question, at least for me, is that some values voters have indeed been duped. They have been duped by hypocritics and cynics that will uses value-laded language as a wedge and a lever to gain votes.

  103. Excuse me? When Obama took over from Bush the economy was in a death spiral. How was that working out for the middle class? My house JUST came out from under-water. 911 was on his watch. Then the Iraq war which did not go after the perps and cost 10000x what Wolfowitz told Congress it would. The car makers begged Bush to fix health care. It was bankrupting them. Maybe that's why they went to Mexico, eh? Finally, Obama pulled the economy out of the hole, got us out of Iraq, and there were no major terrorist attacks here under his watch. Oh and the ACA. You can leave your Bushes in the garden, thanks so much.

  104. The tired refrain that middle class and working class people vote against their economic interests by voting republican is pure snobbery. Of course they do, and why shouldn't they? The ability to vote on issues over self-interest isn't limited to the liberal intelligentsia.

  105. Sorry to say but Bush's "No Child Left Behind" was no favor to the middle class. It helped ignite the fervor to corporatize American public education.

  106. They key phrase here is breathtaking in its plaintive naïveté: "...if Trump wants to make his populism something more than just a con.." Why you assume it's ever been anything more than precisely that? Poor "liberal" Republicans, who just can't admit that what their party has become is the party they made. If they want to save the soul of the GOP, they should start by owning up to the decades they spent closing their eyes to political practices that made Trump not just possible but inevitable--the golem-like consequence of the manipulative, Moral Majoriarian, "wealth creator"-worshipping faux-populism that won them elections and has now nearly lost our republic.

  107. Mr. Douthat, If your read this piece out loud to an audience of today's Republicans, I suggest that you pause when you come to the phrase, "common good," and spell it out. It's not in their vocabulary any more.

  108. I am sorry, but it is simple. Trump voters are in general: white, borderline or very racist, homophobic, nationalists. They are voters who refuse to accept facts, and who will never be educated about reality because Trump has delegitimatized the medial. There are no longer facts. Congress is not moral, it is not looking to improve America, they are all looking to be re elected, and they will cater to the loud base. Believe me... not a single Trump supporter reads Ross, much less the NY Times. We are preaching to ourselves.

  109. The better angels of religion, it's deeper truths is fairness for all it's citizens, especially the weaker who need support. Wealthly and very clever (not so ethical) agents such as our current Koch bro. have repackaged religious morality to protect the wealthy, careless capitalists who perhaps unknowingly drive our society to a "red tooth and claw" world that may bring the whole country down. Trump is just the latest of a dangerous, ammoral sociopath like DT. Things can get so much worse in the direction our country seems to be taking.

  110. Ross, Can you please write a column about how intellectually bankrupt (and plain bad) Ayn Rand is as a philosopher [sic] and writer [sic]? Also maybe you could explain why it is that the people who most admire her books tend to be those who would ironically occupy the bottom rungs of her meritocracy [sic]? On a related matter, could you please write another column about the role of "taste" in the visceral opposition between the Right and Left? (Hint: the left cares deeply about it, intellectually, philosophically, aesthetically, and the right does not.) I understand that may sound offensive or elitist (that's kind of the point), but it strikes me as true enough and relevant to the discussion.

  111. two things Mr Douthat forgot to mention about today's Republicans, or at least the 37% who will follow Trump no matter what he does or who he kills. 1. rampant and unapologetic bigotry towards minorities and the LGBT community. indeed, they don't apologize for it they're PROUDLY zenophobic. 2. their wonton disregard for anything scientific, including or maybe especially facts. the notion that we should abandon all regulatory gains made over the past 30-40 years is the height of stupidity. one reason people like trump have made so much money in real estate is that Nixon started the EPA and they cleaned up the environment in our cities. the Pittsburghs of the 60's and 70's were cesspools. ignoring facts is a dangerous game and it doesn't only apply to environmental regulations. you don't have to "believe" in climate change. Scientists measure the earth's temperature and can clearly see it rising more quickly in the last 37 years than in all the years before that.

  112. Ridiculous. Thomas Frank called it, and the fact that it has gotten worse is why I wish that more had read it. He was correct, I am not even sure you read the book. Sad.

  113. Ross, you have a Manichean blindspot. In your calculus, you must indulge in Reagan and Bush 43 hagiography in order to contrast with the uber-boorish, uber-cronyist Trumpism self-manifested by our American culture. It's unwarranted. This phase of the cultural sleight-of-hand by the plutocracy is just further along a Reagan Restoration continuum that got out of hand (unsurprisingly - it's difficult to put the populist resentment genie back in the bottle). No, W was Ronnie's godson, and Trump is his illegitimate stepchild.

  114. Hmmm.... Manhattan is about an hour's drive from Topeka. Not sure I get your point.

  115. STOP IT! George w. Bush,appointed a lacky to head FEMA. 1800 people died in Kitrena the hurricane Bush said WHATS HAPPENING?to. I can't and won't forgive his ignorance,it's not because he's a Republican Necessarily he's stupid and unqualified to be President. Travel forward to Trump time.Puerto Rico still has a hospital ship and no patients because the man who called himself President is unqualified and Ignorant of leadership on ANY, I REPEAT,ANY level.People are dying every day WHY? Leadership is missing to bring the sick to the ship. Please ,impeach this horror Trump, and get rid of Pence who is another nightmare presented by your Friendly Republican Party,to destroy our country

  116. I would suggest that an article w/the title "What's the Matter With Ross Douthat?" is in order, as it's apparent that he has a very difficult time grasping reality.

  117. Dear Ross, where to set the top tax rate is a moral issue. Just ask your pope.

  118. We get it Ross. You still love both Bushes and Ronnie boy and refuse to apologize for any part of their disastrous presidencies. We all know how you roll.

  119. If you want to know, "What's wrong with Democrats," read another op ed in today's paper: "Why Democrats Need Wall Street." There you can find a Clinton pollster and political adviser telling Democrats to once again ditch its own base on the left to suck up to Wall Street, because of the reality of money in political campaigns. Lose the $15/ hour minimum wage because you don't want to regulate business. He says Clinton lost the election, because she "lurched to the left," after the primaries! Lol. She did the opposite. She and her crew dismissed Bernie's supporters as Bernie Bros and misogynist (insulting all if his female supporters) and ran to the right of Trump, who basically promised south Bernie did, except tax increases on the rich. Since the Democrats took over the Party, Democrats have lost 2/3 of all elections, but somehow that is the left's fault. He also doesn't mention that Bill Clinton teamed up with the Republican Party to deregulate global banks, directly contributing to the Great Recession (Don't worry Bush gets plenty of blame). Democrats come on these comment pushes to rip into Republicans, then they want to emulate them and be a center right party. There is no center base. There is a right base (the Trump fans that love confederates and Putin), and there is a left base that wants to get big money out of government, take care of the working class, and save the environment. The right base is taken. The left base is up for grabs.

  120. Those awful Clintons and their move to the center - just destroyed the party. Better we Dems had stuck with the likes of McGovern, Mondale, and Dukakis.

  121. So here's Ross again, frantically flailing around, trying to find some morsel of decency, some crumb of merit, in any of the exponents of the warped worldview he clings to so desperately. Bush 2's regime wasn't so bad; there's something to be salvaged from the daily national disgrace that is the current occupant of the White House, and worse, the "legitimate" Republicans who continue to appease him. It's all trash, Ross - it's ALL trash. Grow up. Repudiate it. All of it. Cleanse your pious soul.

  122. OK, Ross, I'm with you all the way, except that you forgot a qualifier after "overpaid" and that's "black", "brown" or in any case "not white". But beyond that, at the risk of being painted by my liberal, woke friends as overly sympathetic with people who are often transparently bigoted, frankly racist, or classist in a blinkered way, I must say that you and your buddy David B. do NOT stress enough just how YOUR party and its assorted lackeys in the press have, with breathtaking cynicism, lied to these poor white suckers, promised them the illusory moon of a return to some imaginary Valhalla, all the while ripping the living daylight off their very hides. You say that after Obama the Republican party embraced the theory of a league of ubermenschen faced with an underserving working class. Well, that was finally an honest GOP.

  123. Values Voters don't care about tax reform or economic growth because they believe they're in a war for the soul of the country. After decades of developing a Pavlovian-type response to certain catchword issues like abortion and gay marriage, the GOP doesn't have to do much to work this group into a frenzy. In fact, there's little work required period. In the eyes of the Values Voter, Trump has been chosen by God to lead America back to it's Christian heritage, so anyone who accused him of doing something unsavory is just trying to bring down God's man. Who cares if there's video footage of Trump mocking a handicapped journalist and a war hero, of attacking a Gold Star family, of calling Mexican immigrants rapists, of bragging about committing sexual assault and walking in on undress teenaged girls -- it's all fake news. It doesn't matter that he doesn't know much of anything about the Bible, he can read the right words off the Teleprompter well enough and they lap it right up. It's so simple, it's literally insane.

  124. You hit the nail on the head so superbly, the nail went right through the wall!

  125. Two points. Just because you call yourself value voter does not make you so and the best example is the behavior of Gingrich in his private life. More important Frank was completely right if you judge it by facts and data rather ideological beliefs. Since Reagan presidency and the following Republican presidents and control of the house the income inequality and concentration of wealth was increasing steadily. This country wealth concentration is the highest in the industrial world followed closely by Russian and double the rate of France.

  126. The "matter" with Republicans is that they're unable to reconcile their religious beliefs with their political beliefs. Most Republicans today are devout Christians. Unfortunately, most would rather vote for a candidate who promises to put women, gays, and minorities in their place and have "faith" that everything else will work out than vote for someone who truly represents their best interests.

  127. Douthat incorrectly interprets Franks’ assertion or analysis about the ways in which Republicans catered to blue collar/working class voters in Kansas at that time . Frank didn’t assert that incorporating social issues wasn’t important to these voters, to the contrary,he recognized their importance. However, Frank thought the more important issues that faced these voters are usually economic considerations. The main point of the book is about the ways in which voters harm their interests by focusing on social issues; i.e. abortion, planned parenthood, contraception,faith based concerns,etc. instead of concrete economic proposals. Sadly, this approach is still a common practice by Republicans. Look no further than the way southern politicians pander to their religious constituencies. Prayer breakfasts and speaking at religious universities, constantly pandering to the anti-abortionists.

  128. Republicans are efficient demagogues who appeal to voters emotions better than Democrats do; winning an election by making people think is difficult work.

  129. Well said!

  130. You're just asking this now??

  131. Trump voters represent an underclass of white working class voters who don't know how to succeed in a changing world and changing economy. For generations they've struggled with family discord, economic struggle, drugs, divorce, alcohol.. Basically they'r the poor white families many of us came from and some never left. They don't read, they don't go to college, their dreams are small if any. They don't understand, feel threatened by and thus threaten those not like themselves. Their entertainment? Like the Shakespearean mobs or the Roman hordes, they want to see blood sport. With Trump, they get that. The incomprehensible educated class' blather about foreign policy, economics, the environment, education, constitutional crises, etc. bores them. It doesn't matter. Entertainment they get.

  132. "Note that I don’t mean the religious conservatives who supported Trump reluctantly and in a transactional spirit..." "...transactional..." Is that what they now call "selling your soul to the devil?" Even in their own Christian mythology that never turns out well....

  133. Anger is so easy. If your life isn't what you hoped for, your boss wants rags on you, women demand more respect, your community is filling up with people who don't share your values and you don't understand that beer, chips and meat are why your clothes don't fit then you put all of that into a big place in your brain and stir. Change is hard - like dieting because if you need to lose weight the food that got you there is also the food you have to remove. Who wants that? And while you're grumbling about the unfairness of it all - not least of which is getting older but not better - along comes an orange topped, loud mouthed, promise tossing, so rich he can say what he wants, on his third trophy wife, kids in line or no money and it's love at first sight. He is saying exactly what you would if you didn't have to suck up to just about everybody to keep what little you have. He is you! Or at least who you'd be if you inherited money and could strut about building high rises and casinos that let you play for free. Buildings with your name on it, famous people calling you for donations, lording it over all those idiots who are just jealous when they say you have no class. Yup, you relate to him so much, he speaks for you, he is you. With him you are somebody again, even if in your own mind. Without him, you have to find your own way in a world that is upended from everything you believe. The others just want those tax breaks, it's always about money.

  134. Thee's really nothing defensible about the Republican party, which has in far too many ways become both the party of no when it comes to governance and the implicit party of yes in regards to the loathsome idiot man who is now president. Even though some truly do have reservations or dislike this incompetent-in-chief, there is no sense that they are stopping the angry narcissist from doing endless stupid things while having the personality of a sociopath. Lying as a way of life. One can only hope the Republicans pay dearly for this complete dereliction of duty to their country and to the greater good in 2018. Eclectic Pragmatism — http://eclectic-pragmatist.tumblr.com/ Eclectic Pragmatist — https://medium.com/eclectic-pragmatism

  135. Ross, Ross, Ross... Let's go back to the Republicanism of Reagan, when we didn't have the smartphones to document police brutality (though there was Rodney King), when racism was more subtle in the public realm (Reagan talking about the "young buck" on food stamps buying T-bone steaks, "young buck" referring to a young Black man), and when minorities knew their place (certainly not on the media, except for the acceptable Huxtables) and certainly were grateful to be playing football, so they didn't get involved in protests. Ah, the good old days of Republicanism!

  136. Republicans only care about one thing. Money. They don't care about anything else. They figure that if they have enough, who needs country. And if there is no country, no regulations. The country was founded on working for the "general Welfare". Republicans are selfish. They don't want anyone else to have anything. What was the last thing that Republicans did for the average American? Take all the time you need.

  137. Republican have long been the agitators of "identity politics": overwhelmingly white, male, often evangelical and infused with ultra - nationalism as its main characteristics.

  138. Call it for what it is. Republicans have been in a disinformation campaign for a generation and have won over a very vulnerable group. The dislike that voters in red states have of the coastal elites, who talk down to them (in reality, are trying to help them and bring them up the economic ladder -- which ends up helping everyone, including the 1%-ers) have made them make irrational choices. The truth is that the Democrats will never abandon this group and will continue to be their shield and defender.

  139. "What’s the matter with the Republican Party?" Are you serious Mr. Douthat? All of us know what is the matter. Even the Republicans who have created the current atmosphere of hate filled, race-baiting, demagoguery and political dysfunction that now exists. They all know. What is the matter is Republicans have embraced ultra-rightwing conservatism at the expense of Democracy and normal ethical and moral behavior. They have embarked on a road to self-destruction and at the same time they are taking everyone, every institution and organization in America on the same ride. The Republicans and their agenda is filled with venom and hate for everything Obama or former New Deal. This is their time for vengeance. Republicans want to undo everything that they have vehemently opposed since the administration of Franklin Roosevelt. They want to dismantle Social Security, unemployment compensation, civil rights legislation, income tax, the IRS, the Equal Rights Amendments, Women's right to vote, the right to birth control, access to abortion, desegregation, voting rights, public schools, sick leave, unions, paid holidays, workers rights, women's rights, the 5 day work week, welfare, food stamps, medicaid and medicare. The list goes on. And so do the Republican efforts to dismantle America. That is what is wrong with Republicans.

  140. One thing I gather from your essay is that Republicans are forever making the last Republican administration look good by making the current one even worse. Imagine how bad some future Republican administration is going to have to be to make the Trump administration look good. I suspect they're going to have to resurrect Joseph Stalin to accomplish that miracle.

  141. Frankly, I would have thought there were two or three, maybe even four, levels of dreadfulness that GOP Poti could have sought before descending to the level of Trump. What will Trump's GOP successor have to do to make Trump look relatively good in comparison?

  142. "..become exactly what their enemies and critics said they were, become a movement of plutocrats and grievance-mongers with an ever-weaker understanding of the common good." More accurately, for quite some time they "have been" what observers said they were; and the most important observation is "the ever weaker understanding of the common good." Now ask yourself, honestly, what such an understanding requires. And if you are really honest, you'll realize that this is not a short-term temporary phenomenon.

  143. Haven't heard anyone mention Bush's "ownership society" since 2008. Tell me, how did that work out for you?