The Republican Party seemed united in talking points and convincing to many as critics of policy while it was out of power. Of course criticizing is much easier than governing and the Republicans, now controlling both Congress and the Presidency have an open road to the implementation of the changes that they have coveted for so many years. But when handed the reigns of power the party seems to have lost direction; fissures within the party have become apparent with each faction demanding that the country go a different direction.
During the Obama administration, according to Mitch McConnell, the primary task of the majority Republican Congress was to block whatever was on the Obama agenda. They wouldn’t even pass bills that they had sponsored if the administration supported them. Now they can’t seem to pass bills that they have been trumpeting for year. The primary example of course is repeal and replace Obamacare. It seems they had different ideas of what that meant and hadn’t discussed it among themselves.
The Republican Party appears to have become Balkanized into three major groups, each with its own agenda. Paul Ryan leads a group aligned with the Chamber of Commerce on domestic issues. This group has for twenty years or more been a proponent of free trade, whittling down “entitlements,” and reducing business and personal taxes. Its “Trumpcare” package significantly promoted the latter two of those goals.
Then there is the fiscally conservative/Tea Party faction that seems to want to reduce the federal government to the point that consists only of the Defense Department. That’s not quite true because Rand Paul would do away with the Defense Department as well. For these people Trumpcare is an abomination of largesse to the non-wealthy, a cowardly half measure.
Finally there are the Trump populists in the White House who appear to be entho-centric nationalists, opposed to free trade, sometimes championing expansion of “entitlements,” sometimes calling for drastic cuts in “entitlements,” against foreign aid, and deeply suspicious of foreign countries and anyone coming from them. These folks are not beholden to our form of government and want to implement structural changes. It’s difficult to characterize this group because specific policy does not seem to be highly valued.
The Republicans seem committed to criticizing and obstructing, so much so that since they have come into power they have turned on themselves.