Pundit Jonathan Chait: Republicans Didn’t Heed ‘Liberal Warnings,’ Wound Up Nominating Trump

September 3rd, 2016 1:32 PM

To borrow a phrase from President Obama, let New York magazine’s Jonathan Chait be clear: “Republicans nominated Donald Trump [because] Republican voters like Donald Trump. This theory has the virtues of simplicity and truth.” Chait’s peg for his Friday post, however, was an “alternate theory” he finds wanting: that “Trump prevailed at least in part because liberals blew their credibility by hyperbolically denouncing previous Republican presidential candidates, thereby conditioning Republicans to ignore the warnings when Trump came along.”

Chait briefly dealt with a few instances of lefty Romney-bashing and McCain-bashing from the previous two presidential campaigns and assessed them as either on-target, mildly over-the-top, or too fringy to matter. He declared that “roughly 100 percent of the presidential elections in American history have included rhetorical excesses from some members of each side. And yet only now has Trump emerged as the nominee. So it is hard to see how liberal rhetorical excess has an important causal role.”

“The cry-wolf theory,” wrote Chait, “has an obvious allure for anti-Trump conservatives who wish to absolve their movement of any responsibility for their repellent nominee.” Nonetheless, he contended, if right-wingers had heeded the left-wingers who kept saying that the GOP was going off the rails, they wouldn’t be stuck with the Donald (bolding added):

Liberals may be accused of many sins, but enabling Trump is not one them. Liberals have spent a quarter-century warning that the Republican Party was descending into unhinged, knee-jerk, anti-intellectual reaction. What Trump reveals is not that liberal warnings about the growing ignorance and derangement of the Republican Party were taken too seriously, but that they weren’t taken seriously enough.