Source: The Washington Post
But in the Republican Party of 2021, that’s unacceptable. Republicans aren’t elected to “do the right thing” or whatever; the expectation among much of the base is that they are there to elevate cultural fights against Democrats. This was the engine for Trump’s rise in the 2016 presidential nominating contest, his willingness to overtly prioritize the rhetoric and battles of conservative media over conservative policy proposals.
And, over the past five years, it has become the mantra for the party itself. The GOP’s 2020 policy platform was literally that it promised to “continue to enthusiastically support the President’s America-first agenda,” whatever form that might take. Culture had taken primacy.
McConnell is in a tough spot.
As McConnell put it on Saturday, “Anyone who decries his awful behavior is accused of insulting millions of voters,” a fair summary of the moment. McConnell hopes that he can persuade those millions of voters — the 75 percent of Republicans who think Trump should have a prominent role in the party — to instead progress in a different direction not contingent on Trump and Trump’s fights.
The party apparatus in each state is now controlled by Trumpistas. It’s not clear to me how the party can concentrate on conservative policy as opposed to vague culture issues like the “war on Christmas” and arguments about sexuality.