The Republican identity crisis

The proposed spectrums that emerged from their responses—some of which I’ve included below—are not meant to be peer-reviewed by political scientists. But they offer new, and potentially more useful, ways to map the emerging fault lines that now divide the American right.

LIBERTARIAN ↔ AUTHORITARIAN: One of the most common responses I received from Republicans argued that the party could be divided between authoritarians (who tend to gravitate toward Trump) and libertarians (who are generally repelled by his strong-man instincts)…

GRIEVANCE-MOTIVATED ↔ PHILOSOPHICALLY MOTIVATED: Liz Mair, a libertarian-leaning GOP strategist, wrote that she’s been convinced after “300 gazillion conversations with all sorts of conservatives”—including a range of lawmakers, writers, pundits, candidates, and grassroots-level activists—that the biggest division within the party is one that separates Fox News-a-holics driven by tribal grievance from people who have some kind of philosophically rooted belief system…

ANTI-ESTABLISHMENT ↔ ESTABLISHMENT: The outsider/insider trope is well-worn in contemporary conservative politics—so much so that you could argue the terms have lost their meaning. But based on the emails I received, many Republicans (on both ends of the spectrum) still view the party through that lens. On one end are people who respect existing political institutions, and believe in conforming to their norms and using the system to advance their agenda. On other end of this spectrum are people who believe the establishment is hopelessly corrupt and ineffectual, and that it should be circumvented whenever possible.