"Rarely has a president changed his party as fast and profoundly as
A source "close to
I'm not quite sure it's MAGA hats for as far as the eye can see, but Swan is right about the broader point. There has been a sea change on the right with Trump at the helm. And not just for
To anyone who hasn't lived and breathed in conservative circles, this change is both shocking and hard to comprehend. I agree it's shocking, but it's not so hard to comprehend.
Three distinct factors go a long way to explain it.
First, never before in modern American history have we had a president so transparently demanding not just of loyalty but praise from his subordinates and political allies. He considers criticism of his behavior a greater offense than voting against his agenda -- and so do his most ardent supporters. This creates a powerful cultural incentive to define norms down, or just defenestrate them entirely.
This is one reason why evangelical leaders such as
The other two factors say more about the rest of us than they do about Trump. One is the tribal belief that the other party is an existential enemy that will do anything. And so we must be just as ruthless.
All of that stuff about Trump being a "fighter" who "counterpunches" and isn't "politically correct" is shorthand for this argument. But this attitude is not new to the
The dynamic only gets worse with each election. The party out of power convinces itself that obstruction -- or now "resistance" -- is the only option. The party in power talks a big game about bipartisanship, but it not only knows the other side won't cooperate, it also realizes that its base sees compromise as weakness and capitulation.
The result is that the party in power races to get its agenda accomplished, and the base forgives any abuses or violations of norms in the process, thus proving the worst suspicions of the opposition.
Liberals roll their eyes at the claim that
And the process repeats itself, getting worse and more egregious each time. When I criticize Trump, the first response from countless
Which brings me to the third factor.
Yes, there is a cult of Trump. But that's because we have a cult of the presidency in this country. It infects not just our understanding of the office, but of the person holding it. When Obama acted like a king -- by his own definition -- liberals cheered, because their loyalty was to the man, not the office. It's getting worse with Trump, but this dynamic has been getting worse for decades. And I suspect it won't improve much when he's gone.