For once, the Washington Post is correct about the complete cluelessness of the Republican establishment:
The dirty little secret in Republican politics these days is that the longtime pillars of the party — politicians and ex-politicians, major donors and the consultant class — are further removed from the views of the GOP base than at any time in modern memory. They simply do not understand what the heck is happening within and to their party.
John Sununu, a former New Hampshire governor and longtime GOP hand, is one of the few who is willing to admit just how clueless he is about, among other things, the rise of Donald Trump and Ben Carson. Here’s what Sununu told the New York Times’s Jonathan Martin:
I have no feeling for the electorate anymore. It is not responding the way it used to. Their priorities are so different that if I tried to analyze it I’d be making it up.
Sununu is far from alone in GOP ranks. Think about how most establishment Republicans saw this race playing out: Jeb Bush gets in, raises a ton of money and blows everyone else out of the water. By this point in the year, most of the consultant class would have predicted that Bush would be solidly in first place in most of the early states and simply polishing his policy résumé for the general-election fight to come.
But the truth that Martin exposes via Sununu is that the old ways of doing things in the Republican Party have changed significantly since even George W. Bush was elected in 2000 — running, it’s worth noting, essentially the same campaign his younger brother is right now. Strategies — get big (in terms of organization), tout electability and inevitability, keep yourself close enough to the center that you can be viable in a general election — that once were fail-safe just don’t work in this electoral environment where the dominant sentiment of voters is anger about everything.
The social mood has shifted. What works when the voters are generally optimistic does not work when they are increasingly fearful, angry, and desperate. It’s fun to speak knowledgeably of Ricardo and wax eloquent about how immigrants are enriching the economy when you’re pulling down six digits at the office, but the cruel realities of supply and demand are a little more likely to strike home when you’ve been out of work for 18 months and haven’t had an interview in your last ten job applications.
What we’re seeing is an establishment that is out of sync with reality because they believe the false media narrative about the state of the union, whereas the grass roots has been forced to confront it.