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Divided We Stand

Divided We Stand
New book about the 2020 election.

Tuesday, November 21, 2023

No Longer the Party of ideas

In my essay in The Elephant in the Room, I write: "Trumpism reversed Lyndon Johnson's famous summary of the Great Society: he was against a lot of things and in favor of mighty few.'"

E.J. Dionne at WP:
Donald Trump has proposed shooting shoplifters, as NBC News noted in a report on GOP “bloodlust.” Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis has pledged to kill drug smugglers who cross the Mexican border. Former South Carolina governor Nikki Haley, in more organized fashion, proposed sending Special Forces into Mexico to go after drug cartels. Oh, and DeSantis said last August that he wanted to “slit the throats” of federal bureaucrats on Day 1 of his administration. But don’t be alarmed, civil servants. He explained later that he was “being colorful.”

If killing various kinds of people is a legitimate solution for various problems, then sure, the party’s presidential candidates have plenty of policies to offer.

Occasionally, the party’s hopefuls go beyond vague but sweeping calls for cuts in government spending to spar about something substantive. At a debate earlier this month, Haley proposed raising the retirement age for younger workers, while DeSantis said he wouldn’t. Some deficit hawks will no doubt cheer Haley, but there’s nothing pathbreaking about this argument.

Beyond that, the party is offering little in the way of problem-solving and policy innovation. Culture war battle cries and symbolism are the order of the day.