By Charlie Cook – National Journal
An anger persists: Party rebel Pat Buchanan upset a sitting president in the 1992 New Hampshire GOP primary.
PHOTO: February 1992: Republican presidential candidate Pat Buchanan holds up a newspaper with the headline, ‘Read Our Lips’ at press conference following the New Hampshire Primary. (Photo by Ron Sachs/Consolidated News Pictures/Getty Images)
Almost half of the GOPâ€™s voters are saying: Letâ€™s start from scratch.
Is the ReÂpubÂlicÂan Party goÂing rogue? Itâ€™s hard to look at the opinÂion polling in the GOP presÂidÂenÂtial nomÂinÂaÂtion conÂtest and conÂclude anyÂthing else. As unÂexÂpecÂted as many of the deÂvelÂopÂments on the DemoÂcratÂic side have been, it doesnâ€™t hold a candle to what is unÂfoldÂing among the ReÂpubÂlicÂans.
Clearly, something proÂfound is hapÂpenÂing in the usuÂally staid and orÂderly party. DonÂald Trump is in first place not only in Iowa and New HampÂshire, but in naÂtionÂal polling as well, avÂerÂaging more than a quarter of the vote. Ben CarÂson, the reÂtired neurÂoÂloÂgist, is now in second place in Iowa and naÂtionÂwide, and in a statÂistÂicÂal tie in New HampÂshire with Ohio Gov. John Kasich, a more traÂdiÂtionÂal canÂdidÂate. That Jeb Bush is avÂerÂaging single-diÂgit perÂformÂances in both cruÂcial states and naÂtionÂally is just as perÂplexÂing.
Should we see this as a reÂbelÂlion against caÂreer politiÂcians and the GOP esÂtabÂlishÂment? Or, is roughly 40 perÂcent of the GOP electÂorÂate throwÂing a temÂper tanÂtrum? The anÂswer is: both.
Not quite half of the ReÂpubÂlicÂan Party is made up of soÂcial, culÂturÂal, and evanÂgelÂicÂal conÂserÂvatÂives, tea-party adÂherÂents, and popÂuÂlists. None of them ever cared much for the party esÂtabÂlishÂment in the first place. This 40-something perÂcent of the GOP isnâ€™t only more visÂible and voÂcal than the slight maÂjorÂity of conÂvenÂtionÂal ReÂpubÂlicÂans, they are also likeÂliÂer to vote in caucuses and primarÂies. That magÂniÂfies their imÂportÂance.
But more than that is goÂing on in the Grand Old Party. This is my theÂory: DurÂing the past 35 years, since RonÂald ReÂagan entered the White House, ReÂpubÂlicÂan voters have watched in quiet disÂmay as the fedÂerÂal debt and the size of govÂernÂment kept growÂing, not only unÂder DemoÂcratÂic presÂidÂents but also unÂder ReÂpubÂlicÂansâ€”ReÂagan and both Bushes. Much of that happened while ReÂpubÂlicÂans held maÂjorÂitÂies in one or both houses of ConÂgress.
The caÂreer politiÂcians who conÂstiÂtute the partyâ€™s esÂtabÂlishÂment have disÂapÂpoinÂted many ReÂpubÂlicÂans. ConÂserÂvatÂives (and nuÂmerÂous nonÂconÂserÂvatÂives) hated the Troubled AsÂset ReÂlief ProÂgram, which PresÂidÂent George W. Bush pushed through in reÂsponse to the 2008 finÂanÂcial crisis. The so-called bailÂout of banks stoked their popÂuÂlist ire; few of them seemed to apÂpreÂciÂate that the emerÂgency acÂtion might well have preÂvenÂted the U.S. and world ecoÂnomÂies from slidÂing inÂto a second Great DeÂpresÂsion. Most conÂserÂvatÂives and ReÂpubÂlicÂans desÂpised the AfÂfordÂable Care Act and, unÂaware of the inÂner workÂings of ConÂgress, couldnâ€™t unÂderÂstand why ReÂpubÂlicÂan maÂjorÂitÂies havenâ€™t rolled it back.
InÂcreasÂingly, theyâ€™ve seen their own leadÂers as inÂexÂtricÂably bound up with everything they hate about WashÂingÂton. Thus, the tea party was born. As a conÂsequence, something else diedâ€”the deÂferÂence traÂdiÂtionÂally afÂforded to the partyâ€™s esÂtabÂlishÂment, in nomÂinÂatÂing as its standÂard-bearÂer whoÂever was next in line.
This isnâ€™t the first time the antiÂesÂtabÂlishÂment pieces of the party have shown a willÂingÂness to look outÂside the box. ReÂcall 1992, when conÂserÂvatÂive comÂmentÂatÂor Pat Buchanan upÂset PresÂidÂent George H.W. Bush in the New HampÂshire primary. Read more at the National Journal…