Trump’s emphasis on social issues broadly construed—on abortion, guns, judges, crime, drugs, immigration, terrorism—and his rejection of orthodox GOP support for free trade and entitlement reform transformed the Republican makeup. What Drutman describes as a “split in the Republican Party between populists and conservatives” can also be interpreted as a division between the party of Trump and the Grand Old Party. The two parties may agree on some issues, but they differ in tone and outlook and on crucial policy questions. It is difficult for them to function as a coalition government. Trump’s health care reform is stalled in Congress, his tax reform is inchoate, and his infrastructure plan is nonexistent. The two parties are able to unite against the left, but have trouble finding common legislative ground.
Making things more complicated is the fact that there are more than these two parties. Drutman also found divisions within the Democrats. “To the extent that the Democratic Party is divided, these divisions are more about faith in the political system and general disaffection than they are about issue positions.” The Democratic Party of Barack Obama and Bill and Hillary Clinton is satisfied with the status quo, and uses identity politics as a veneer for economic policies that benefit Wall Street, Silicon Valley, Hollywood, and multinational corporations. What we might call the party of Bernie Sanders, on the other hand, is both more radical on questions of political correctness and identity and hostile to the established order. The party of Sanders wants radical change. Beginning with Medicare for all.