The division between Ryanites and Trumpites points to an important truth about today’s Republican party. There is no positive consensus that spans the GOP elites and electorate. There is no longer a consensus about entitlements, trade, immigration, or Syria. That should be our starting point.
The great failure of the 2012 autopsy was to try to impose an unpopular policy vision on the party and — what is worse — to use the prestige (such as it is) of the party committee’s officers to shut down discussion. Hopefully Republicans won’t make that mistake again.
If Clinton is elected, Republicans will find common ground in opposing her agenda, but they will oppose different parts of her agenda for different reasons. Given where we are, that is healthy. The problem with Republicans wasn’t that their thinking was too diverse. It was that their thinking was too sclerotic. They were prisoners to nostalgia, and to an agenda that no longer moved either general-election voters or even the Republican rank and file. Trump has smashed all that.
We should be in no hurry to impose a new orthodoxy — much less an old one. We should let multiple answers emerge regarding health care, entitlements, immigration, trade, foreign policy, and much else. Let us listen to each other and then, over a period of years, let the voters decide.