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Tags: republicans | gop | presidential campaign | 2024 elections
OPINION

GOP Race for '24 Nod Not to the Middle

bunting is eyeglass frames for eyes with trumps head popping up over the year twenty twenty four

Susan Estrich By Friday, 14 July 2023 08:37 AM EDT Current | Bio | Archive

The race to beat former President Donald Trump for the Republican nomination for president is not, much as some of us might wish, a race to the middle, but a race to the right.

That has been painfully clear watching his strongest challenger, Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis, in his twisted attack on Trump for being too moderate on LGBT issues, running what may go down as the most embarrassing ad of the campaign season attacking the former president for being too progressive on gay rights issues.

But it is equally true of former New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie, who has been most outspoken in his attacks on Trump. Christie is not a moderate. On the key issue of abortion, he toes the right-wing line, saying the issue should be left to the 50 states.

There is a simple reason for this. The path to the Republican nomination for president is a road to the right. Trump will not be defeated from his left. The only question is how far right they will go.

Christie may be alone among the Republicans in giving voice to the criticisms of Trump, but he is not the moderate that some might hope. There is no reason to expect a moderate to come out of a process that is ideologically skewed right.

The nominating process — on both sides — is dominated by the ideologues. On the Democratic side, this means liberals. On the Republican side, this has always meant hardcore conservatives. In today's parlance, it means Trumpers, or at least hardcore conservatives.

The challenge for the presidential candidates has always been how far to the left or right they can go in the primary process before moving back to the middle for the general election. On the Democratic side, did you go so far left as to lose the middle? On the Republican side, do you go so far right as to lose the majority?

But this year, it is likely to be especially tricky. That's because in the background to this race you have the Freedom Caucus in the House of Representatives defining the new hardcore right-wing position so far to the right as to defy commonsense governing principles.

That is what is on display this week. The bipartisan defense spending bill has always been an occasion for the two sides to come together to support a strong defense. Not this year.

This year, with the slimmest of Republican majorities in the House, the Freedom Caucus is threatening to hold up defense authorizations over issues like abortion and transgender rights — issues that have no place in the debate.

Can they get away with it? Will they define the new agenda? They see an opportunity, and they are grabbing it.

So, they push even harder. And what will the presidential candidates do?

There will be no profiles in courage.

There will be no one standing up and saying it is wrong.

Presidential campaigns, in theory, are occasions for open debates about the direction of the country, where we are headed and what policies we should follow. But not this time around.

There is no real policy debate going on in the Republican primary process. No one is taking Trump on when it comes to the issues.

It hardly matters that Trump refuses to debate. What is there to debate? The Republicans are not discussing policy. They are afraid to veer away from whatever is seen as the hard-right position on taxes and entitlements.

Listen carefully to Christie and find the differences between his positions and Trump's on taxes and Social Security; good luck if you can find any.

No one is talking honestly about how to deal with entitlements or deficits or the like. How could they if they expect to win in a process so totally skewed to the right?

The agenda is set. The only question is who will carry it out.

Susan Estrich is a politician, professor, lawyer and writer. Whether on the pages of newspapers such as The New York Times, the Los Angeles Times and The Washington Post or as a television commentator on countless news programs on CNN, Fox News, NBC, ABC, CBS and NBC, she has tackled legal matters, women's concerns, national politics and social issues. Read Susan Estrich's Reports — More Here.

© Creators Syndicate Inc.


Estrich
The race to beat former President Donald Trump for the Republican nomination for president is not, much as some of us might wish, a race to the middle, but a race to the right.
republicans, gop, presidential campaign, 2024 elections
714
2023-37-14
Friday, 14 July 2023 08:37 AM
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