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Saturday, January 13, 2018

Republican authoritarianism

Still, as the conservative movement has completed its conquest of the Republican Party, it has never resolved the dilemma that haunted it from the beginning. Conservative opposition to policies like business regulation, social insurance, and progressive taxation has never taken hold among anything resembling a majority of the public. The party has grown increasingly reliant upon white identity politics to supply its votes, which has left an indelible imprint on not only the Republican Party’s function but also its form.

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Here is a sitting governor in the United States, not some post-Soviet kleptocrat, actually calling for “authoritarian power.” To be sure, LePage lies along the edge of his party rather than at its center. But the nature of party coalitions is that they cluster around common principles, and the mainstream of Republican thought is closer to LePage than anybody could have imagined possible a few decades ago. In a September National Review cover story, co-authors Yuval Levin and Ramesh Ponnuru, two of the right’s most erudite intellectuals, acknowledged that Trump has made some questionable statements that “certainly do not sound like the views of a person with a deep esteem for the constitutionally limited role of the president or for the delicate balance of our system of government.” But, they quickly insisted, Hillary Clinton’s support for executive actions, laws that create more bureaucracy, and liberal judges poses “a more concrete and specific threat than Trump.” Indeed, “mainstream liberalism now subverts and threatens our democracy,” and so they concluded that the safer choice, from the standpoint of the republic’s stability, would be to hand control of the Executive branch to Trump. This is how a party consensus forms. The more strident wing openly endorses authoritarianism, and the “moderate” wing refrains while agreeing that authoritarianism is still preferable to liberalism.

http://nymag.com/daily/intelligencer/2016/10/the-gops-age-of-authoritarianism-has-only-just-begun.html

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