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Great Moments in “Republicans Have No Agency”


Tim Alberta’s American Carnage is, by most accounts, a very detailed account of the Republican Party’s complete capitulation to Trump with a lot of juicy anecdotes. (It’s on my wish list if you want a report.) But Alberta could only get that kind of access by being a conservative reporter, which according to this review leads to some truly classic “why do bad things keep happening while Republicans are in control of government?” moments:

Republicans never seemed enamored of the bill itself. It would deliver the disproportionate bulk of its benefits to corporations and the wealthy, undermining Trump’s pledge of targeted relief for the middle class. It would offer less assistance to working families than many in the party hoped …

the bill was nothing what many of them had envisioned when Ryan described harpooning his white whale of tax reform. Even as the Speaker muscled it through the House, he recognized that the bill did more cutting than reforming …

However imperfect, this legislation represented their best chance in three decades.

Yes, the fact that Republicans keep passing tax bills overwhelmingly targeted to the upper class and corporations is truly a mystery that will never be solved.

Anyway, the critical lesson here is that Trump is necessary for Republicans because white identity politics are a lot more popular that “gutting popular federal programs to pay for upper class tax cuts:

This would seem to confirm the conclusions that liberals have long harbored. The Republican Party’s political elite is obsessed with cutting taxes for the wealthy, but it recognizes the lack of popular support for its objectives and is forced to divert attention away from its main agenda by emphasizing cultural-war themes. The disconnect between the Republican Party’s plutocratic agenda and the desires of the electorate is a tension it has never been able to resolve, and as it has moved steadily rightward, it has been evolving into an authoritarian party.

The party’s embrace of Trump is a natural, if not inevitable, step in this evolution. This is why the conservatives who presented Trump as an enemy of conservative-movement ideals have so badly misdiagnosed the party’s response to Trump. The most fervently ideological conservatives in the party have also been the most sycophantic: Ryan, Mike Pence, Ted Cruz, Mick Mulvaney, the entire House Freedom Caucus. They embraced Trump because Trumpism is their avenue to carry out their unpopular agenda.

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