Trumpism over ideology?

Nice piece from Seth Masket arguing that Republican politicians are putting party, in the form of support for Trump, ahead of core tenets of conservative ideology:

It’s no secret that our partisanship affects how we view the world. Political science has hundreds of findings supporting this conclusion. But many of us had assumed some sort of ceiling for this effect, a limit on what our partisanship could ask us to do or believe. The events of the past year, and particularly the past few months, have served as a test of this theory, and, so far, we haven’t found the limit.

The evidence is being provided by Republican Party leaders in their reactions to Donald Trump’s pronouncements. Political observers early in the 2016 election cycle broadly understood that Trump was not on board with many longstanding Republican policy stances, from Social Security to trade to military deployments…

This is part of what makes the Republicans’ embrace of Trump so striking. But it’s also the nature of his policy disagreements. It would be one thing if he were simply more moderate than most Republican leaders on some issues, or if he cared about some issue that the party usually ignores. But Trump is pushing against core Republican principles, and many Republicans are adjusting to meet him…

With the exception of a few years when George W. Bush was seeking to improve relations with Russia early in his term, Republicans have basically always been the more hawkish party, and have been willing to tarnish any Democrat even speaking about working with Russia as not having America’s best interests at heart…

Another core tenet of modern Republicanism, of course, is free-market capitalism. The best economic system, the party maintains, is one in which businesses can operate with minimal regulation and thus produce wealth and innovation that benefit everyone. Trump’s approach has literally been the opposite of that. To use the tax code and other tools to selectively bully and punish companies that exhibit undesirable but legal behavior, such as building plants in other countries, is many things, but it’s not free-market capitalism. But many Republican leaders have nonetheless enthusiastically backed Trump’s approach.

This is good stuff and makes important points, but I think Seth gets one thing wrong.  These are only rhetorically core tenets of the Republican Party.  When push comes to shove there’s basically one and half core tenets.  Tax cuts for rich people and less regulation for business (this one is more flexible, depending upon the business).  Now, if Trump was actually going to raise taxes on rich people, there’d be a 100% revolt.  But, his plan is for massive tax cuts for the wealthiest Americans.  And it’s clear, with Trump promising that, everything else is negotiable.  This is the core tenet of the Republican party.


About Steve Greene
Professor of Political Science at NC State

One Response to Trumpism over ideology?

  1. R. Jenrette says:

    It’s pretty apparent to me that Trump told his rallies what they wanted to hear and used those ideas to win the Republican primaries. His strategy to win the general election was to repeat those same ideas while wrapping “crooked” Hillary in her emails and the Clinton Foundation.
    Now that he’s won and will be President, he has attempted to back off from many of the promises he made to win the election and to move to supporting whatever new policies he may develop.
    His cabinet is mostly a Pence cabinet even to the deputies of each cabinet. Trump fancies himself a foreign policy genius whose gut instincts are right. Pence and the GOP will have their way on domestic issues while Trump plays the foreign affairs game.
    The years of living dangerously are ahead.

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