The book explores five traps that the Republican Party has set for itself and endanger its future. The traps vary in lethality but, together, they could cripple the party for a generation or more.
One trap is its steady movement to the right, which has distanced the party from the moderate voters who hold the balance of power in a two-party system. A second trap is demographic change. Younger adults and minorities vote heavily Democratic, and their numbers increase with each passing election. The older white voters that are the GOP’s base of support are shrinking in number. Within two decades, based on demographic change alone, the GOP faces the prospect of being a second-rate party. Right-wing media are the Republicans’ third trap. A powerful force within the party, they have tied the GOP to policy positions and versions of reality that are blunting its ability to govern and impeding its efforts to attract new sources of support. A fourth trap is the large tax cuts that the GOP has three times handed to the wealthy and that has created a split between its working-class supporters and marketplace conservatives. The fifth trap is the GOP’s disregard for democratic norms and institutions, including its effort through voter ID laws to suppress the vote of minorities and lower-income Americans. Such actions have made lasting enemies and created instruments of power that can be used against it.
Each of these traps has deepened under Donald Trump. The GOP needs to restore its conservative heritage if it is to remain a competitive party. Our democracy requires a healthy and competitive two-party system and would not benefit from a greatly diminished Republican Party, nor can it flourish from the reactionary course that the GOP is on.