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Why Sam's Club Conservatism Won't Be Adopted

Grand New Party, by Ross Douthat and Reihan Salam, is a very interesting and worthwhile attempt to sketch out an alternative vision of conservatism for the Republican Party that is connected to the economci and social needs of the working class. Alas, its fatal flaw, as Noam, Chris Hayes, and Matthew Yglesias have pointed out, is that it does not make any serious attempt to figure out why the Republican Party is so upper-class focused. Yglesias writes:

As recently as the George HW Bush administration, it was possible for prominent Republicans to act in a responsible manner with regard to tax issues. But John McCain's primary defeat in 2000 and his primary win in 2008 appears to confirm the idea that the GOP is first and foremost a tax cutting party.

The question of how the GOP came to be controlled by tax cut jihadists happens to be the subject of my book. I show how, as recently as thirty years ago, Republicans still favored fiscal responsibility over tax cuts, and I explain how business lobbyists and supply-siders came to dominate the party's agenda. I use the tragic saga of John McCain, who rebelled against that agenda but decided he had to surrender to it completely in order to win the party's nomination, to show that the grip of tax-cutting jihadists remains as strong as ever.

By all means, read Ross and Reihan's book. But if you want to understand why their ideas have no hope of taking root in the GOP any time soon, I immodestly suggest you read mine.

--Jonathan Chait