GOP Extremism Was Powerful Before Trump, and It Will Outlive Him

GOP Extremism Was Powerful Before Trump, and It Will Outlive Him

Gun Rights

The oh-so-respectable Mitt Romney embraced some seriously extremist positions in 2012. One of the latent questions in American politics for both parties is whether Donald J. Trump is some sort of horror-movie version of a unicorn, who after this term, and perhaps another one, will retreat to Mar-a-Lago, leaving the Republican Party — and the United States — scarred but not fundamentally changed. For obvious reasons, Republicans don’t discuss this view of their own future very openly, lest their master resent the suggestion that he’s a man whose moment is rapidly slipping away. You hear the subject discussed more among Democrats, particularly those who are running for president to consign Trump to the ash bin of history. Joe Biden, for example, has made it clear he considers the 45th president an aberration, whose evil spell over Republicans will dissipate once he’s out of office. But Trump’s undoubtedly strange and outlandish personality should not make us forget that the party he took by force in 2016 was already exhibiting an alarming extremism on multiple issues. Here’s Barack Obama being hopeful about Republicans in 2012: President Obama told supporters that he expected the gridlock to end after the election, when Republicans can stop worrying about voting him out of office. “My expectation is that if we can break this fever, that we can invest in clean energy and energy efficiency because that’s not a partisan issue,” Obama said, speaking to supporters in Minneapolis. Obama pointed to deficit reduction, a transportation bill, […]

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