Conservative commentator Ross Douthat argues in this morning's New York Times that Donald Trump may be another Jimmy Carter:
But with the release of the House Republican “replacement” (I use that term loosely) for Obamacare, it’s worth returning to the analogy. It rests, in part, on the work of the political scientist Stephen Skowronek, who argues that certain presidencies are “disjunctive” — straddling a political order passing into history and another one struggling to be born. And “disjunctive” generally means ineffective, because the parties such presidents are leading are likewise trapped between past and future and unable to unify and act.
The release of the Republican Plan to replace Obamacare has made clear yet again how disjunctive the Republican Party really is:
In the long Reagan era, the Republican Party was, in effect, the party of the health care status quo — bending to accept certain expansions of the welfare state (S-CHIP, a prescription drug benefit in Medicare) in order to forestall a larger government takeover of health insurance.
By the late 2000s, however, the decline in employer-provided coverage and the steady rise of health care costs made status-quo politics untenable: Too many workers who made too much to qualify for Medicaid were unable to afford insurance. Meanwhile, over the same period, Republicans were winning more working-class votes, which meant that their own constituents increasingly stood to benefit from a coverage-expanding health care reform.
When it comes to public healthcare, the Republicans are still the Party of No
because the party’s limited-government ideology was hostile to increased spending, and many of its strongest interest groups stood to lose out from reform. So resist the G.O.P. did — sometimes by embracing a more libertarian vision of health care, but more often by incoherently and opportunistically attacking whatever the Democrats proposed.
And now that they are in the driver's seat the Party is attacking what its leaders propose. They are what they have been for a long time -- an opposition party which has forgotten how to govern.
Trump may, indeed, be the next Carter.