Op-Ed: The allure of the Republican Party is baffling. Voters will regret falling for it, says Michael Barone
The GOP, in its early days, wasn’t quite like it is now.
It wasn’t necessarily full of men in suits, with the air of self-importance, running for nomination on vague notions of purity and ideology. At least, not yet. They were, for the most part, more like the New England Patriots, the Boston Celtics, or the Detroit Tigers — small, fanatical teams built on a winning tradition, playing a winning game, and not caring about the noise or controversy that accompanies an annual Super Bowl or presidential primary.
It was, for the most part, a bunch of guys, a lot of them fathers, that came together to play a game, and that was that.
So the GOP wasn’t in any way, shape or form a monolithic party, or a party with a coherent ideology or identity. It was a collection of ideas and perspectives. It was a collection of men, who, over time, would develop their own identities, and ideas, and priorities, and, in the process, come to define the Republican Party they would eventually be running for.
But all that changed when Ron Paul ran in 2008, and all hell broke loose in the GOP. From there, it was just a short step to Donald Trump’s nomination, and Donald Trump’s presidential campaign. Now, after four years of Trumpian shock and awe, it’s a pretty clear case that the GOP doesn’t care much about ideas or ideology, it just cares a lot about the power it can wield to elect candidates and raise money.
To that end, it has moved dramatically in the last few years in three very predictable ways — from a centrist party toward the center, to an evangelical party toward the center, and finally, a libertarian party toward the center.
A new conservative movement is emerging, and for the first time, it’s the Tea Party movement that is leading the way. It’s a movement that’s not interested in identity