Ross Douthat wonders why Republican Establishment (who better proxy for that group than the House Speaker Paul Ryan?) would not respond to Trump rise by:
- either incorporating policy changes like dropping tax cuts for donor class
- or vehemently and consistently repudiating soft White Ethno-nationalism of Trump.
One part explanation would be ever since Reagan era, Republican politicians have consistently fed their base the policy prescription of tax cuts for rich, adventurism in foreign lands and reduction on welfare spending including cuts to Social Security and Medicare. Republican Party has pursued these policies despite evidence showing that these policies do not work. All the cultural wars - it has always worked for the benefit of Republican Establishment as those wars divert attention of American Public to secondary issues leaving Conservatives to continue their agenda uninterrupted.
Gerrymandering of house districts, concentration of Democrat voters in urban areas and uneven representation in Senate; all that have given a sense of political security for Republicans. That sense of comfort in sense makes Republican Party reluctant to change its policy prescriptions.
But with Trump, this inherent contradiction - asking votes of white working class people but to adopt policies which suit rich donor class - has come to be a boil. Trump politics will not solve the root problem - providing gainful, sustainable employment to these disfranchised white working class Americans. But what it can do is break Republican Party and bring a painful electoral loss to Conservatives. And all this carnage even before most Americans are waking up to realize havoc Conservative policies do to American people.
Not that Republican Party has not changed policies. Even before Donald Trump shamed Jeb Bush for Bush failures in 'connecting dots before 9/11' or 'hubris of Iraq War'; more and more Republicans are aiming for restrained foreign policy. Ted Cruz still talks 'glowing the sad in night' or messers Lindsay Graham, John McCain still want America to pour thousands of soldiers in far away places; but these views are finding contracting markets within the Republican Party.
On the issue of cutting Social Security and Medicare - with Romney defeat, the tide has started to turn within the Republican Party. Donald Trump campaigns by saying he will leave those two programs untouched. All in all proposing cuts to those programs is becoming radio active among Republicans.
The similar retrenchment or appraisal need to happen for rich skewed tax cut policies. Until then the day of reckoning in November election looms large for Republicans.