Thursday, February 4, 2016

The Great GOP Realignment

Following-up from Sunday, "The Realignment of 2016."

From Joshua Green, at Bloomberg (via Memeorandum):
Ted Cruz and Donald Trump may herald an historic working-class Republican revolt against the party establishment.

A few days before the Feb. 1 Iowa caucuses, Brad Martsching was barreling down a Pennsylvania highway, hoping to unload his eighteen-wheeler in time to get back home to Indianola, south of Des Moines, and participate for the very first time in the opening ritual of the presidential primary process. Martsching, 46, had settled on Ted Cruz over Donald Trump, but was mostly nursing his disgust at Republican leaders. “I’m a conservative. I want the Constitution to be our law, not political correctness,” he said. “I want a smaller government with less control of our personal lives and more control of our border, our finances, and our safety as a nation.” Republican lawmakers kept frustrating him by ignoring their campaign promises. “We get people that run as conservative and even get Tea Party support—they wear that lapel pin proudly,” he said. “But when they leave for Washington, they leave it on their dresser at home.”

Martsching was fed up. A lot of other Iowans were, too. So they handed a victory to Cruz, who infuriated Republican leaders by engineering the 2013 government shutdown. And they made Trump, who’s equally unpopular in Washington, a close second. Add Cruz’s 28 percent to Trump’s 24 percent, and more than half of caucusgoers supported an outsider openly despised by the GOP establishment. Voters had heeded party elders for decades by nominating establishment figures such as Bob Dole, George W. Bush, John McCain, and Mitt Romney. The Iowa result was nothing less than a revolt, and the message to Republican leaders unmistakable: Drop dead!

It’s easy to view this year’s Republican primary as a cult of personality and no more—the rise and fall of a colorful billionaire who stars in the greatest reality show on television. But what’s happening is much broader than Trump and Cruz. It’s an extension of a shift in Republican politics that’s been under way for several years. Although the media is portraying the outcome in Iowa as a repudiation of Trump, it’s better understood as a repudiation of the party establishment—just the latest in a series of uprisings dating to the 2010 election. At the congressional level, the GOP has already realigned itself to reflect this anger. Almost 60 percent of House Republicans were elected in 2010 or after. They’ve radicalized their party in Congress and driven out its establishment-minded speaker, John Boehner...
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