As Donald Trump tries to get the Republican party to unify around him, there has been some shifting around among the members of the various sectors within the right-wing party, such as the elected officials, the media, and the influence shapers. One is seeing the first two sectors falling into line behind Trump as they see it in their best interests to not defy the party nominee.
It is within the last sector, those who see themselves as the opinion shapers within the party such as Mitt Romney, George Will, Erick Erickson, David Brooks and Glenn Beck, that one sees the most resistance to Trump and Heather Digby Parton looks at the reasons for this, focusing on Brett Stephens, an editorial page editor of the Wall Street Journal, and David Frum, former speechwriter for George W. Bush.
That Trump has broken the rules of politics and so far succeeded is now indisputable. But Parton says that Frum’s opposition to Trump springs from the fact that Trump has broken all the norms that make democratic governance even possible and that is what concerns him.
Frum’s trying to figure all this out and he’s digging deeply to do it. In fact, he’s been doing this for some time as one of the few insiders who have been clear-eyed about the destruction of the conservative movement and the Republican Party over the past few years even before the appearance of Donald Trump. And he’s right about all of this. This disconcerting breaking of the norms that make democratic governance possible has reached a critical stage.
What started with the cynical propaganda projects of Newt Gingrich to the ’90s witchhunts and the dubious tactics of the long election of 2000 metastasized into the Tea Party which was born out of a belief that Barack Obama was an illegitimate president and anything he proposed was therefore invalid. Donald Trump was in the middle of that as the King of the Birthers, the man who mainstreamed the formerly fringe conspiracy theory that the president wasn’t born in America. And now that man is the Republican nominee for president.
It is not at all clear that these so-called opinion molders within the Republican party ever actually influenced the rank and file or were merely reflecting the agreement that already existed between them and the party leadership. Now that the agreement has fractured, we have a test of the extent to which these people actually wield any influence over the party’s thinking.