The Republican platform of 1980 stresses two themes that are not as harmonious as Republicans suppose. One is cultural conservatism. The other is capitalist dynamism. The latter dissolves the former. Capitalism undermines traditional social structures and values. Republicans see no connection between the cultural phenomena they deplore and the capitalist culture they promise to intensify.
Which is as pithy an analysis as you’ll get of the dilemma for Republicans who’d like to remake their movement. Mitt Romney’s 2012 presidential campaign helped solidify the party’s demographic problem into a political narrative: “Republicans are the party of wealthy, white Americans.” They generally reify the market as a natural meritocracy and celebrate its winners above all others.
Republicans desperate to swap out these labels have offered a series of conservative proposals that support “traditional social structures” in the United States, policies that are purportedly“pro-family” and/or “pro-middle-class.” But these efforts have repeatedly run up against the party’s core ideological commitments: protecting low tax rates for the wealthy and avoiding redistribution of resources to poor children and adults. As a result, each dramatic new reform unveiling has turned out to be substantively similar to past Republican efforts to redistribute wealth to the wealthy.
Or, to use Will’s framing from above, the Republicans keep siding with capitalism over families and the market over the middle class.