This article in The Economist was the basis for a panel on Morning Joe this morning. Nicolle Wallace, who calls herself a "recovering Republican," still has a little more work to do on "Step One, make a full inventory," just saying.
NICOLLE WALLACE: What happens to any memory of men like Paul Ryan or Mitch McConnell, like what they used to stand for, like, 18 months ago?
And there it is, the sure sign that you are dealing with what we at The Professional Left call a "lifeboat builder." An insistence that this history of the Republican Party's downward spiral began during the time of Donald Trump.
Back in the summer of 2016 I predicted this exact argument in my evergreen post, "Don't You Dare Call It 'Trump-ism'":
It isn't Trumpism. It's the Republican Party. And it has been for far longer than Donald Trump has been running for President.
[Trump supporters] are registered Republican Primary voters...
They didn't just register to vote this year or fall off a truck into the Republican Party. They voted for Bush, twice. They voted for McCain/Palin. They voted for Romney. And they're tired of losing and being embarrassed by their votes, so embarrassed that they fell for a "Tea Party" rebranding just so they would not have to associate themselves with Bush.
And then the establishment had the nerve to suggest they vote for Bush's brother.
Several of the panelists get this, at least in part:
JON FASMAN (The Economist): Turns out President Trump is very popular with Republican base voters so it's difficult to sort of stand up to him if you want to win a primary. One of the things he revealed during the campaign is that the economic conservative arguments that Republicans put forth were not really very popular with the base. Turns out that for older white voters cuts to Medicare and Social Security are really unpopular and so you will see this sort of collapse of the Republican establishment around President Trump.
And Donald Trump promising no cuts to those popular programs, and his voters pretending he'll keep that promise, is adorable. Just like the Wall.
TIMOTHY CARNEY: He's revealed what was under the surface. ...This base was voting Republican not because they believe what he believes -- low taxes, low regulation, pro-life -- but almost out of a cultural affinity. Then trump came and this hidden thing he brought out. The party wasn't really representing the base, the conservative Washington establishment, which I agree with, was not representing the base which is not ideological in either party.
JOSH ERNST: ...The other thing that's often overlooked here, there's actually more continuity in this transformation of the Republican party than people realize. I'm not the expert who is sitting at this table on this. Sarah Palin in 2008 grew larger -- or drew larger crowds as the running mate for John McCain... than the candidate at the top of the ticket. There are seeds of this we've been seeing for so long. and it strikes me that what has happened, it is not just the last 18 months that Mitch McConnell and Paul Ryan have been willing to suppress their own views, to capitalize on and tap into this emotional charge inside the Republican party, that nativist, populist, nationalist sentiment. but they were actually willing to do it back in 2008 in part because I think they saw the power and the persuasion and support that Sarah Palin had inside the party way back in 2008.
It's amazing to watch them not say racist, not say anti-Obama because he's black. The Republican base has been trained since at least Newt Gingrich in 1984 (and let's face it, since the Civil Rights Act of 1965) to vote for the white guy who will keep "your" tax money and not waste it on the undeserving (blacks.) It's a white supremacy party and has been for decades. Trump is one of them, sucking at the Fox News Nativist teat, and so he, in the words of most of his supporters, "says what I'm thinking" because all of them were brainwashed at the same control center, Fox/Limbaugh.
Note the need to applaud Ben Sasse because essential to the "lifeboat" goal is the myth of the "reasonable Republican." Watch for more of this Third Way, No Labels BS, especially at Morning Joe, which has specialized in it since the fall of George W. Bush.
They've got to "save" the Republican Party, so they pretend everything went south with Donald Trump and "Trumpism," when that's their party and it has been ALL ALONG.