I typically disagree with almost everything columnist Ross Douthat says and believes, not the least because he sees religion, especially "conservative" Christianity, as a positive good, whereas I see it as a net evil. Much of the success of the Republican Party has been because of playing upon the hatred and bigotry that I see as being synonymous with right wing Christianity in America. While Douthat still hasn't woken up to the reality of the negative effects of religion, he seems to have woken up to the evils of today's Republican Party under Der Trumpenführer:
Thirteen years ago, in the midst of a different Republican administration, the liberal book of the moment was Thomas Frank’s “What’s the Matter With Kansas?” In answering his title’s question, Frank argued that hardworking heartland Americans were being duped by a Republican Party that whipped up culture-war frenzy to disguise its plutocratic aims. Middle-class and working-class Republican voters, he insisted, were voting against their own economic self-interest and getting worse than nothing in return.
Trump has essentially become the Frankian caricature in full, draping the rhetoric of populism over an agenda that so far offers little or nothing to the middle class, making appeals to the religious right that are notable in their cynicism, and rallying his base through culture-war controversies distinguished mostly by their ginned-up phoniness.
What’s the matter with the Republican Party? Many things, but right now above all this: Far too many Trump supporters, far too many conservatives, have seen the then-inaccurate caricature that Frank painted 13 years ago brought to blaring, Technicolor life by Trump — and they’ve decided to become part of the caricature themselves, become exactly what their enemies and critics said they were, become a movement of plutocrats and grievance-mongers with an ever-weaker understanding of the common good.