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Tom Nichols Explains Why He Finally Left The Republican Party

Nichols, who teaches at the War College, has been a lifelong Republican -- but no longer. "Now we are the party of eternal victimhood," he said.
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Morning Joe invited Tom Nichols, War College professor, onto the show this morning to talk about his just-published essay for The Atlantic, "Why I'm Leaving The Republican Party."

"I have a question for you, which is the people that I have seen leave the tribe in the Trump era, people like you and Joe and Bill Kristol and Max Boot, it's intellectuals, writers, people in the media," Nick Confessore said.

"The president is extraordinarily popular among the rank and file, perhaps more so than any other president in years and years and years. And those include voters who have voted for people like Mitt Romney and John McCain. Has the party changed, or has Trump kind of pulled something out of the party that was there and latent or there and a minority part of the party and made it the main purpose of the party?"

"I think there was always something in the party that resented coastal elites, intellectuals, but that we had a larger -- we had an uneasy alliance among ourselves because i think we shared some basic values," Nichols said.

"I think Trump has turned the Republican project that was conceptualized during the Reagan era as positive. Now it's we no longer have things to achieve. Here are the people I'm going to punish and get even with. Republicans don't like to talk about this, I think, but some of that radicalization happened after eight years of Barack Obama. Some of this is racial resentment. It's the sense that the information age has produced a gap between people with education and people who can manage in this 21st century economy and people who can't.

"I think it's a combination of things. There was always a latent racial tension. There was always a latent class tension and a difficulty of dealing with, again, the elites, the intellectuals and so on. Trump really took that and ran and said everybody is against you. This is one of the reasons -- one thing that I think made Republicans and conservatives different from liberals in the '70s and '80s, we were the party of optimism. We didn't think of ourselves as victims. Now we are the party of eternal victimhood. Trump supporters are constantly complaining about how they're looked down upon, and they're forgotten, and nobody loves them enough.

"And I find that just amazing from people who control all the branches of government."

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