Jonathan Chait on the Republican Herd

Republican HerdI think much of the analysis of Trump has not quite grappled with… the reality that parties operate like herds. The focus on the individual is natural, and somewhat appropriate, given Trump’s extraordinarily disqualifying combination of personal traits. Still, all of Trump’s personal and ideological tics can be connected to decades-long trends within the Republican Party toward anti-intellectualism, white racial paranoia, and authoritarianism.

The herd quality of parties explains why the most pessimistic observers of the Republican Party during the Obama era have been right — indeed, Trump’s rise has proven many of us to have been insufficiently pessimistic about the party — and the optimists wrong. The optimists have believed that the GOP could elide, or move beyond, its most fanatical and retrograde elements with some kind of killer app: just the right kind of presidential candidate, or Speaker of the House, or domestic-policy innovation, could reposition Republicans as a serious, responsible governing force.

But it hasn’t worked because the outliers in the party have a way of pulling the herd in their direction.

—Jonathan Chait
Why Republican Kooks Matter

4 thoughts on “Jonathan Chait on the Republican Herd

    • I think he’s right. What he’s really talking about is how a group works itself into a frenzy by constantly following the most upset person. He’s not saying that the Republicans don’t believe what they claim to. He’s providing a mechanism for how they got so crazy — by also following the people on the rightmost edge of their group.

  1. The latest post on Drudge. John Podesta apparently is a “Satan worshipper” as he had dinner with performance artist Marina Abramovic.

    Remenber when Rush Limbaugh used to talk about the importance of character? Was that all a lie as well now that he is backing Trump? Really it is just all very amazing.

    • Tribalism is strong in all humans. It’s how we survived this long. But for authoritarian followers, it gets out of control. And that’s what we’ve seen among conservatives for at least the last 25 years.

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