Is the GOP really still a party?

What results is a permanent government by crisis for which each side blames the other. “Despite having months to act before legislative deadlines, leaders routinely wait until the last moment to plot a course of action, publicly concede in advance major negotiating points, insist that Republicans have no alternatives, refuse to allow amendments and then criticize colleagues for not voting to avert the crisis leadership caused,” Rep. Justin Amash, R-Mich, wrote in an op-ed.

The Tea Party has also always had populist and nationalist impulses as well as libertarian ones, rooted in concerns about the cultural, religious and demographic change Obama’s ascendancy represents in addition to opposition to the fiscal profligacy that began before he took office and worsened in his first term. The relative strength of Trump’s candidacy compared to Rand Paul’s is a good indicator of which strain is prevalent right now.

This has led to competing definitions of what it even means to be a conservative. Some believe that high levels of employer-driven immigration are conservative on free-market grounds. Others argue that its social and political implications will be liberal, therefore so is a pro-immigration policy. A conservative who thinks curtailing immigration is a higher priority than entitlement reform will offer a different assessment of Paul Ryan’s record than will a conservative with the opposite priorities.