Why has the GOP behaved this way? Part of it is just old habits. Part of it is that populism would require war against corporate welfare and the lobbyist revolving door that enriches all of these insiders at the expense of the rest of the country.
But part of it is elite identity politics: Republican leaders would rather be the party of White-Bread suburbia than of Blue-Collar America. Republican leaders want to be the party of Scarsdale, New York, and so they ignore Upstate New York, where the voters are up for grabs.
So Donald Trump has occupied Upstate New York — and Western Pennsylvania, and Lowell, Massachusetts. And maybe Iowa and New Hampshire
“They left a vacuum,” Buchanan says of today’s GOP. “They left it vacant,” and now “Trump has come in and he’s walked off with Middle America.”