Because Mona Charen has been an influential, just-below-the-radar, hard-core Conservative for decades, and because despite being a Never Trumper, she hasn't upgraded her basic Conservative operating system one iota, this bit should come as no surprise to anyone.
Charen: ...and that... that is what the Republican Party is saying is fine. That they are okay with that... that... that... from now on our elections will be decided, uh, by who has a bigger gang, uh, of thugs who can come and intimidate the Congress while it's counting the votes. And this time most of them were not armed, but next time who's to say.
Charen: ...isn't this, I mean the... the, so, the parlous state of the Republican party -- and Linda [Chavez]'s you know, I totally second what Linda said about it being much bigger than the Republican party. It's a danger to the country. Um, but in light of that doesn't this sort of cry out for the Democratic party to, um, reign in its own extremists so that they can be appealing to people in the middle and not, y'know, and not have those people fleeing into the arms of a completely irresponsible party, namely the Republicans.
Aristocrats who had been run out of their out of their country by the serfs they had exploited.Aristocrats who suddenly found themselves financially dependent on the largess of people they detested.Aristocrats who, with that special, asshole-arrogance that comes with an inbred sense of entitlement, become indignant when their hosts don't snap to and do as they're told.Aristocrats who still believe in their God-given right to command a national spotlight and who go right on airily insisting they know what the serfs really want.
Damon Linker: Uh well sure. I mean there are certain parallels between the two parties. They each have, uh, a restive base, uh, that is demanding certain things that aren't really, I think, in the interest of the country.driftglass: Really Mr. Linker? Really? What exactly is the "restive" Democratic base asking for that is not in the interest of the country? Student loan debt forgiveness? Affordable healthcare? Help with child care? Serious action on the dire climate crisis? Criminal justice reform? Sensible gun control? And beyond Owning!The!Libs!, overturning the 2020 election, memory holing the 01/06/2021 armed GOP insurrection and enacting Jim Crow 2.0 voter suppression legislation across the country, what exactly does the GOP base want?
Linker: ...although the difference is that 70 percent, as we keep saying, of the Republican Party believes a complete, delusional fantasy about reality whereas on the Democratic side it's something like maybe 20 percent to 30 at the most of the party is sort of involved in a sort of quasi-religious activist mindset.driftglass: It's 91% of the GOP that are irredeemably nuts, and 7% of registered Democrats who believe Biden has Secret Green Lantern powers that he is refusing to use to pass legislation, but OK...Linker: Uh and then, of course, Biden is doing all kinds of things in economic policy that some people in the centrist... in the center... aren't entirely comfortable with...driftglass: Which people? What "center"?
Linker: ...but I don't think that part of it is really comparable. Um, and so the Republicans, I think, are definitely the more dangerous of the two. And I mean, you ask... you ask the Biden administration your question and they would say, "We're already doing that. "We're governing responsibly. We you know we have this economic agenda, it seems to be pretty popular in the polls. And so, y'know, those sensible Republicans who have decided rightly that their party has gone off the deep end, they can come right over to us right now! We're happy to have them!" Um, so I'm not sure what the incentive structure is for Democrats to do much more than they already have and blow up their own electoral coalition as a result.
Charen: You know you might have thought that after Trump is out of office, having been denied his platforms on social media, um, that this was an opportunity for the elites in the party and for the party in general to, um, begin to distance themselves from Trump and, um, and so that it seems to me if... if there had been other people who, uh, who followed [Liz Cheney's] lead it might have made a difference. Look, y'know, the... the sure there's a big problem with the base. But... but the base takes its cues from elites, let's face it. The elites they happen to follow the most slavishly are people like Tucker Carlson, um, but... but the elites matter...
What you will never hear GOP aristocrats like Mona Charen admit is that, by her own definition of "elites" -- people from whom the base of the party takes its cues -- for the last 30 years the Republican party's most important "elites" by far have been men like Rush Limbaugh, Newt Gingrich, Jerry Falwell and the many, many political and media imitators they spawned. These are the people who codified the language of rage, racism, paranoia and reflexive, unhinged contempt for Democrats as the GOP's mother tongue. Who taught an entire generation of of Conservative voters and politicians that compromise was betrayal, that the press was the enemy and that they should never, ever trust anyone who told them anything they didn't want to hear.
In other words, party aristocrats knew about the monster that was growing in their basement. Of course they knew, because how could all these lords and ladies of the GOP who have been wired into Republican politics for decades possibly not know. Turn on AM radio anywhere in the country at any point in the past 30 years and you knew instantly what the base was thinking. Look who the party credited with its 1994 sweep to power -- whose approval party leaders were forced to grovel for whenever they stepped out of line -- and you knew instantly who the party "elites" really were.
And while Liberals warned that the GOP was setting something dark and terrible at the throat of our democracy -- something the GOP would never be able to control-- party aristocrats like Mona Charen dismissed such warnings as alarmist crackpottery and were perfectly content with this arrangement until it was far too late.
And while neither Limbaugh nor Falwell nor Gingrich are name-checked during the balance of this podcast, it's clear that, among themselves, the people gathered around these microphones have a pretty clear idea that the real problem with the Republican party is that it's full of Republicans.
David French [podcast guest]: ...But now I got to agree about the base. I mean the base, right now, I mean if you're gonna... I was talking to somebody who's very well plugged-into the, uh, Williamson County Republican -- I'm in Williamson County, Tennessee. Williamson County, Tennessee is kind of a piggy bank of the GOP. It's a very, very Red place. I did that little New York Times tool where you were trying to figure out what kind of bubble you're in and 85 [percent?] of my neighbors are Republicans. And I found out from talking to these folks who are very plugged-in that people are furious at Marsha Blackburn. Furious, why? Because she didn't do more. She didn't do more to save Trump in the election.
French: And so a lot of a lot of these guys will say to you, "What do you want me to do? Because if I stand against trump I'm done. I'm going to be replaced and do you think this is good for the country? I'll be replaced by Lauren Boebert. I'll be replaced by Matt... y'know Madison Cawthorne. I'll be replaced by Marjorie Taylor Green, and is that going to be great for America? No." So on the one hand you've got to have leadership, but on the other hand you also have a giant base problem.
Bill Galston: Very briefly Mona, uh, I guess I disagree with you about the extent to which elite opinion has governed the transition to Trump and is ensuring the non-transition away from Trump. Uh, on my reading, Donald Trump won the Republican primary in 2016 because he was saying what the base wanted to hear. Uh, and nobody was directing them to ratify Trump's message.
Galston: They did it on their own. They then proceeded for four years -- all four years of the Trump presidency -- to give him unswerving support even in the face of events that would have toppled anyone else. So no, I don't think this is a question of what the elites are thinking or doing. I think it's a question of what the rank and file has come to believe for reasons that I've spent years trying to understand...