One of the sad truths about the Trump era is that the Republican Party will return to being the Bush party as soon as Trump leaves office. The 2020 election could be a blowout, giving Trump a mandate to push through all sorts of populist projects, as well as giving the GOP a huge majority. Trumpism could become the default position of the base, but the party will immediately begin selling itself as a the kinder, gentler Trumpism as soon as Trump is in the rear-view mirror.
It is one of the enduring features of post-war America. Pat Buchanan pointed it out way back in the 1980’s, when he observed that the people vote conservatives to Congress, only to see them go native in a few years. It is a remarkable transformation made more obvious in the communication age. You can just follow the person’s social media feed to see the transformation. They go from representing their people in Washington to Washington’s representative to those people.
The question that has vexed the genuine Right is why this seems to be a phenomenon of the Right and not the Left. There are no examples of left-wingers going to Washington and becoming moderates. That only happens when the Overton window shifts Left. Yesterdays’ hair on fire crazies suddenly sound like statesmen. Back in the 1980’s, when Schumer and Pelosi hit town, they were considered embarrassments to the party, but today they are what passes for normal.
This is not just an American phenomenon. The rest of the English-speaking world has the same issue. In Canada it is called Red Toryism, a sort of center-right conservatism that trails along behind their Left. In Britain, of course, it is just called Toryism. There it is the default position of the ruling class, which is always drifting further Left. The Aussies, of course, have an upside-down version of this with a funny name. Weak and timid conservatism is the default all over the English-speaking world. …
The Left seeks to use the state to reorganize society according to their current fads, so the Right opposes the state as a legitimate entity. Not just the state, but institutions in general, instead promoting radical individualism. Conservatism comes to be defined as something just as radical as what’s on offer from the Left.
Culture is upstream from politics, and big government seduces all those on its payroll.