Trump was supposed to change the GOP. But the GOP changed him.

“Trump is not enthusiastic about implementing popular policies, or really thinking or engaging on policy at all. Even when his administration has implemented policy, he has seemed confused, checked out, or even at odds with his own administration’s positions or actions — including on a massive tax cut package, agency-level deregulation, installation of judges, and the response to Covid-19

 Trump, it turns out, is extremely enthusiastic about Trump and other people who are enthusiastic about him, regardless of whether they are hardline conservatives or conspiracy theorists, rather than Republicans in line with his populist rhetoric. He is extremely enthusiastic about attacking those who are not enthusiastic about Trump. The result is that Trump functions as an opposition leader, defining himself and the Republican Party not by a set of policies but by their opposition to those who oppose Trump. Meaning, most importantly, the left.”  

“Even before the pandemic, there was comparatively little Republican voter support for cutting federal spending on health care and education. Before “Infrastructure Week” became a long-running joke, it was a Trump campaign promise, one with high levels of support from Republican voters. And that hasn’t changed — according to Fox News polling conducted earlier this month, 57 percent of Americans want more assistance from the federal government, not less.

Teles told me, “The problem is that the Republican Party’s actual voters — as well as those they aspire to attract — have shifted in a working-class direction. And those voters need government to actually do things for them. They need something like a coherent program for driving economic growth, they need new systems of social insurance, and they need a functioning public health system that would allow them to go to work. All of that requires a kind of planning and implementation capacity, and a relationship between a large base of technical expertise and networks of officials across government to drive change, that does not exist.”

RNC internal documents obtained by the Washington Examiner and released this week show that the GOP is well aware of its voters’ discontent. As detailed by writer Joseph Simonson, voters who switched from Obama to Trump in the Rust Belt “favor stronger social safety nets and hawkishness on trade, rather than typical GOP orthodoxies such as lower tax rates and an easier regulatory environment for businesses. That is not to say these voters oppose those things, but the rhetorical obsession from GOP donors and members of the party do little to excite one-time Trump voters.””

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