As I keep saying, the Republican and Democratic parties, as revealed by their primaries, are not at all symmetric.
On the Democratic side, the argument is about a theory of change: voters really do care about progressive priorities, and are torn between two candidates who broadly have similar ideologies but have different visions of the politically possible.
What we’re seeing on the Republican side, by contrast, is that almost nobody except a handful of pundits and think-tank hired guns cares at all about the official party ideology.
Remember when Bill Kristol predicted that Trump’s support would collapse because he declared that he would protect Social Security and Medicare? Surprise: there are virtually no sincere small-government types out there in the real world. Wealthy donors want tax cuts, and this may indirectly lead them to support cuts in social insurance programs to free up the funds. But people who actually care about the government spending too much in general (as opposed to spending too much on Those People)? No such constituency.
And what about moral values and personal responsibility? Today Jerry Falwell Jr. endorsed the multiply married, philandering, not visibly God-fearing Donald Trump. How is that possible? Greg Sargent says that evangelicals are driven by fear of the collapse of society as they know it. And that’s certainly consistent with what we’re seeing.
But I’d push it a bit further, and harsher. What’s really going on, I’d argue, is (justified) fear over the erosion of white patriarchy. (That’s what the attack on Planned Parenthood is really about too.) That is, it’s about authority, not virtue.
And so Trump’s lifestyle, his personal New York values, don’t matter, as long as he’s seen as someone who will keep Others in their place.