“Different Republican senators have different ideas, but across the party as a whole, there is no plan. The Republican Party has no policy theory for how to contain the coronavirus, nor for how to drive the economy back to full employment. And there is no plan to come up with a plan, nor anyone with both the interest and authority to do so. The Republican Party is broken as a policymaking institution, and it has been for some time.
“I don’t think you’re missing anything,” said a top Republican Senate staffer. “You have a whole bunch of people in the Senate posturing for 2024 rather than governing for the crisis we’re in.”
“There hasn’t been a coherent GOP policy on anything for almost five years now,” a senior aide to a conservative Senate Republican told me. “Other than judges, I don’t think you can point to any united policy priorities.””
Donald Trump On Paying Supporter’s Legal Fees Meet The Press. 3 14 2016. NBC News. A look back at Trump comments perceived by some as inciting violence Libby Cathey and Meghan Keneally. 5 30 2020. ABC News. https://abcnews.go.com/Politics/back-trump-comments-perceived-encouraging-violence/story?id=48415766 Presidents Have Declared Dozens
“By pure numbers, the anti-Trump conservative bloc is both fairly small and not that remarkable. The group of Republican voters who disapprove of Trump is similar (but slightly smaller) than Democrats who disapproved of then-President Barack Obama during his first term. Conservatives who really hate Trump probably no longer identify as Republicans — 11 percent of Republicans switched their party affiliation between December 2015 and March 2017, according to Pew. But surveys suggest that the share of Democrats switching affiliation in that same period is about the same. It’s hard to be precise about this: Data suggests at most 10 percent of American voters overall are anti-Trump but generally lean Republican.1 That’s not nothing, but between 40 and 50 percent of Americans are likely to vote for Trump in November.”
“anti-Trump conservatives are arguably way overrepresented in elite media, at least compared to their numbers in the general population. The New York Times, for example, has three conservative-leaning but Trump-skeptical opinion columnists — David Brooks, Ross Douthat, Bret Stephens — and no columnists who regularly align with the president. MSNBC has programs fronted by two anti-Trump hosts once closely aligned with the GOP establishment — ex-Rep. Joe Scarborough and Nicolle Wallace, a former communications director for President George W. Bush — and no explicitly pro-Trump hosts. Among the 53 Washington Post opinion writers highlighted on the paper’s website, seven are people who have identified with conservatives and/or the Republican Party in the past but regularly attack Trump. Just four are conservatives who regularly defend the president.2 Numerous anti-Trump conservatives are also featured prominently on CNN.3
How did this happen? Well, from the media perspective, the prominence of “Never Trump” conservatives makes perfect sense. The readers and watchers of The Post, The Times and MSNBC in particular are disproportionately left-leaning.4 So these audiences probably don’t want too much explicitly pro-Trump commentary. At the same time, news outlets usually like to present themselves as both offering a diverse set of voices and not too closely aligned with one party or the other. So by featuring, for example, George Conway, a conservative lawyer turned “Never Trump” leader5 who sharply criticizes the president in his cable news appearances and columns in The Washington Post, the press can essentially suggest, “It’s not just the ‘liberal media,’ even Republicans were angry when Trump did X.”6
But it’s not simply as if the media has hired every Republican who says that they don’t like Trump. Many of the conservatives in high-profile media slots (like Brooks) were there before Trump’s rise. Robert Saldin, a political science professor at the University of Montana and co-author of a new book on anti-Trump conservatives, said the kind of conservatives who get jobs at places like CNN were predisposed to dislike a Trump-style GOP politician.7”
“getting into media consumed by liberals is in some ways the only game in town for anti-Trump conservatives, since Fox News is very pro-Trump and features few critics of the president. And that platform to reach Democrats has been particularly useful for “Never Trump” conservatives because they allied with more centrist Democrats”
“Republicans on Capitol Hill are standing firmly behind Trump because GOP voters and GOP activists and elites are demanding that they do so. There just isn’t much room to break with the president of your party if close to 90 percent of voters in the party approve of him and many of those voters get their news from sources strongly supportive of that president.
Why are Republican voters and elites so strongly aligned with Trump? There’s not a simple answer, but I think identity — rather than ideology — is a big part of it. Trump is defending the identities of people who align themselves with the GOP, and this is a more powerful connection and reason to back him than pure ideological concerns. In defending Trump, conservative voters are really defending themselves.”
“Three years after Kellyanne Conway introduced the doctrine of ‘alternative facts’ on his own program, a light went on for Chuck Todd,” Jay Rosen wrote. “Republican strategy, he now realized, was to make stuff up, spread it on social media, repeat it in your answers to journalists — even when you know it’s a lie with crumbs of truth mixed in — and then convert whatever controversy arises into go-get-em points with the base, while pocketing for the party a juicy dividend: additional mistrust of the news media to help insulate President Trump among loyalists when his increasingly brazen actions are reported as news.”