I keep telling people that Trump is forever and no one believes me.
I get that. I don’t want to believe me, either.
But there are two ways to view 2016.
The first is that Donald Trump broke apart the fusionist Republican coalition by discovering that GOP voters have different policy priorities than GOP elites.
The second is that Donald Trump broke apart the fusionist Republican coalition by discovering that some large core of GOP voters are motivated primarily by identity-grievance politics and, unlike GOP elites, have no policy priorities.
Mr. Last correctly ascribes the first view—the erroneous perception—to David Brooks.
No, allows Last:
Do these people want tariffs, or free trade? Do they hate socialism, or do they want the government picking winners and losers according to the national interest? Are they pro-life, or are the deaths of 160,000 people just something that “is what it is”?
The Identity Politics Conservatism theory would say that these people don’t care a whit about the policies—they care about who is doing the policymaking. …
The logic of Identity Politics Conservatism suggests that all of this think tanking and speechifying is—at best—tertiary to what these voters care about. They do not want a new strategy for bringing tech giants to heel.
They want Lafayette Park.
If I could distill the difference between the Conservative Reformation and the Identity Politics Conservatism viewpoints to a single sentence, it would be this:
One theory holds that voters responded to Trump despite the tweets; the other posits that voters responded to Trump because of the tweets.