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HomeWorldOpinion | The Road From Mitt Romney to MAGA | International news

Opinion | The Road From Mitt Romney to MAGA | International news

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So Mitt Romney is leaving the Senate. This is bad news. Like excerpts from an upcoming biography. revealRomney is clear-eyed about what has happened to his party, and if what he says is true, he is a profile of bravery compared to his colleagues who share his horror but are unwilling to say anything.

However, some of the comments I’ve seen about Romney border on hagiography, which he doesn’t deserve. It’s good to see Romney speaking out now, but the party he criticizes is largely a monster that people like him helped create.

Because the basic history of the Republican Party, dating back to the 1970s, is this: Advocates of right-wing economic policies, which redistributed income from workers to the rich, attempted to sell their agenda by exploiting bigotry and social animosity. They had considerable success with this strategy. But eventually the extremists they thought they were using ended up ruling the party.

Before I get into that, let me address the widespread myth that Romney lost the 2012 election because he was the victim of a smear campaign, and that Democratic evil radicalized the Republican Party, paving the way for Donald Trump.

If you remember the 2012 election, which I certainly do, you know that Democrats portrayed Romney as a plutocrat whose policies would harm ordinary Americans while enriching the rich. And this description was… completely true.

In particular, Romney was a vocal opponent of the Affordable Care Act, also known as Obamacare, which was signed into law in 2010 but did not take full effect until 2014, an especially cynical position since Obamacare was very similar to the healthcare reform that Romney himself had enacted as governor of Massachusetts. If he had won in 2012, he would almost certainly have found a way to block implementation of the ACA, which in turn would have meant blocking the big reduction in the number of Americans without health insurance after 2014.

But let’s go back to the history of the Republican Party for a generation after World War II (which Donald Trump recently said Joe Biden could take us to) we were still a nation shaped by the legacy of the New Deal. Under Dwight Eisenhower, the tax rate for the highest-income Americans was 91 percent and about a third of American workers were unionized.

And Republicans largely accepted that situation. in a letter to his brotherEisenhower wrote: “If any political party attempted to abolish social security, unemployment insurance, and eliminate labor laws and agricultural programs, that party would never be heard of again”; Although there were some conservatives who thought differently, “their number is insignificant and they are stupid.”

Beginning in the 1970s, however, the Republican Party became increasingly dominated by people who did want to roll back the legacy of the New Deal. Frontal attacks on important programs, such as George W. Bush’s attempt to privatize Social Security in 2005 and Trump’s attempt to demolish the ACA in 2017, generally failed and were rejected by voters: Democrats retook the House in 2018 largely due to the reaction against Trump’s attack on Obamacare. But tax rates at the highest levels fell sharply, the power of unions was broken, and income inequality it shot itself.

Why didn’t Republicans pay a high political price for their hard right turn? Largely because they were able to offset the unpopularity of their economic policies by harnessing the forces of religious conservatism and social illiberalism: hostility toward nonwhites, LGBTQ Americans, immigrants, and more. In 2004, for example, Bush made opposition to gay marriage a central theme of his campaign, only to declare after the election that he had a mandate for the aforementioned attempt to privatize Social Security.

Big donors tried a similar move when cash poured in the DeSantis campaign earlier this year. It’s doubtful they shared Ron DeSantis’ obsession with being anti-woke, but they thought (wrongly, it seems) that he could win on social issues and then deliver tax and spending cuts.

But in the end the forces that economic conservatives were trying to use ended up using them. This wasn’t something that suddenly happened with Trump’s nomination; People who think the Republican Party suddenly changed forget how common it is. crazy conspiracy theories and refusal to recognize the legitimacy of Democratic electoral victories already occurred in the 1990s. The current dominance of MAGA represents the culmination of a process that has continued for decades.

And for the most part, Republican politicians who were probably not extremists agreed. For a while this may have been because MAGA was still delivering right-wing economic goods. Keep in mind that for all the talk of “populism,” Trump’s main political achievement was a huge cut in corporate taxes. But non-extremist Republicans also, and increasingly, gave in out of fear, for their careers, and perhaps even for their safety.

It is to Romney’s credit that he has finally reached his limit. But he did it very late in the game, a game that people like him basically started.



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