Many consider Donald Trump an anomaly in the Republican party, but they really shouldn’t, suggested New York’s Jonathan Chait in a Tuesday piece. Chait argued that the GOP which nominated Trump for president is pretty much the same GOP which has freaked out for several years over the Affordable Care Act. As Chait put it, “Republican hatred of Obamacare exemplifies the madness that left its elite unable to stop Trump.”
Chait’s peg was a Washington Post column by Michael Gerson, onetime speechwriter for President George W. Bush, in which Gerson claimed that “no issue…has gone further [than Obamacare] to convey the impression of public incompetence that feeds Trumpism…If Trump wins, there will be a host of reasons, but one will be this dramatic failure of liberal governance.”
Chait had two main responses. One was that Obamacare is no failure: “The Affordable Care Act has given access to health insurance to 20 million people, making it one of the great humanitarian reforms in American history. It has done so while coming in dramatically under budget…Uninsured rates have met their targets despite fanatical Republican resistance that includes a Medicaid boycott that has inflicted cruelty on the poorest and most vulnerable…Health-care inflation is running at historic lows.”
The second was that the increasing craziness and dumbing-down of the GOP both drove its loathing of Obamacare and facilitated its nomination of an “ignorant racist demagogue” (bolding added):
To remain a party member in good standing, a Republican must pay fealty to certain truths, however untrue they may be. The party’s refusal to cooperate with Obama on any major issue, and its dogmatic insistence that Obamacare must be destroyed, is a sign of its intellectual rot. The GOP’s refusal to support the principle of universal health insurance makes it unique among major conservative parties anywhere in the world. And its extreme legislative tactics in the service of this principle are a defining fact of the Obama era. Even the sanest and most reasonable members of the party do not or will not question its central strategic and ideological imperatives. The transformation of the party of Dubya to the party of Trump is a fall, but the closer one looks at the party of Dubya, the shorter and more easily explainable it is.