Ezra Klein - Donald Trump is winning because he's a true Republican. Yup! Quote:
The gap between the rigid agendas followed by the party establishments and the more diverse opinions of loyal partisans leaves both parties vulnerable to a candidate like Trump who has the money, and the star power, to campaign on a platform that party elites would normally suppress.
Take spending cuts. It's table stakes in a Republican primary to talk about how you'll cut spending on Social Security and Medicare. The GOP's policy apparatus loathes both programs and considers their long-term cost to be among the most pressing economic threats facing the nation. Any Republican candidate who wants to be taken seriously by Republican Party elites needs to show they understand the urgency of cutting Social Security and Medicare spending.
One problem? Republican voters don't understand the urgency of cutting entitlement spending. In fact, they oppose cutting entitlement spending. More Republicans want to increase spending on Social Security and Medicare than decrease it. They think keeping entitlement benefits at current levels is more important than reducing the deficit.
This puts Republican voters at odds with the Republican establishment and conservative interest groups. But since Republican candidates can't get very far without some level of support from the GOP establishment, conservative interest groups, or both, the Republican Party's elected officials are basically united on cutting Social Security and Medicare, even though Republican voters hold the opposite view.
Trump is the only Republican running who actually agrees with the GOP base on this one. "They're gonna cut Social Security. They're gonna cut Medicare. They're gonna cut Medicaid," he said on Fox & Friends. "I'm the one saying that's saying I'm not gonna do that!"
And that's what makes a candidate like Trump potentially dangerous. On immigration, Trump holds a hard-line position that the Republican Party establishment has tried to mute, and so far Republican voters are loving it. On Social Security and Medicare, Trump — who opposes cuts — is closer to Republican voters than the party establishment is. On free trade deals, Trump shares a skepticism held by about half of Republican voters, but that's usually suppressed by the party's powerful business wing.
Most candidates who tried to stack this many heterodoxies would be quickly squelched by the party establishment. But Trump isn't beholden to the GOP for money, staff, power, or press attention. That frees him to take positions that Republican voters like but Republican Party elites loathe. keeping entitlement benefits at current levels is more important than reducing the deficit.
The question over the next few months will be whether the Republican party whips at Fox, Focus on the Family, and neo-Nazi talk radio will ultimately be able to crush him, or whether Trump has the Teflon to beat back all comers.
I'd laugh even more if Trump managed to motivate enough of the base to beat Clinton and win the presidency.
Hey, we're going to need some reason for either an explosive secular bull market or a devastating crash, right?