For decades now, though major media has spoken and written about “the” Republican Party as if it were a fixed, coherent thing, it has been unclear exactly what has been holding this ideologically diverse group of people together. Indeed, one may need to go all the way back to the middle of the 19th century — when the party was founded explicitly to fight slavery — to find Republican ideological coherence.
The answer lies in the fact that, for the last century and a half, the GOP has not been one thing but actually a strange mix of folks held together by little more than an overlapping consensus about who the bad guys are. Asking what “the” Republican Party stands for is a bit like asking to what species a manticore belongs. Both are hybrid mishmashes that resist singular characterizations.
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