Jonathan Chait: The GOP’s Age of Authoritarianism Has Only Just Begun – New York

The likelihood that Hillary Clinton will win on November 8 reduces the possibility of total conservative control within the next four years. But Trump has revealed — and hastened — the Republican Party’s transformation. In June, Ed Conard, a former business partner of Mitt Romney’s and a visiting scholar at the conservative American Enterprise Institute, told a gathering of wealthy Republicans that they needed to find a way to appease Trump’s blue-collar supporters while still maintaining their grip on the party’s agenda, especially its fixation with reducing the top tax rate. “So the question is, how do we build a coalition with displaced workers like we did with the religious right after Roe v. Wade and which we used to lower the marginal tax rate from 70 percent to 28 percent … and that leaves us in control, us being advocates of free enterprise, in control of the coalition?” he asked. Conard explained, “The answer, I believe, is tough, and perhaps even odious, compromises.”

Conard was expressing in unusually blunt terms the strategic calculation that has preoccupied his party’s elite, which understands that its small-government message still does not attract a natural majority on its own. Trump has propelled the party onto a course that may sometimes be discomfiting but could satisfy every faction: libertarian ends achieved through authoritarian means.

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