Boot, like most conservative intellectuals, reacted with incredulous disdain when a demagogic reality-television performer registered at the top of opinion polls in 2015. Most of those conservatives eventually reconciled themselves to Trump, either after Trump had sewn up the nomination, following his election, or after one of his many partisan skirmishes, at which point they could declare that the liberals had “forced” them to Trump’s side by criticizing Trump too harshly, opposing Brett Kavanaugh, or some other offense. Boot did not. Instead, he has written one of the most impressive and unflinching diagnoses of the pathologies in Republican politics that led to Trump’s rise.What Chait finds noteworthy is that Boot now understands that the modern conservative movement "trafficked all along in anti-intellectualism, bigotry, ideological radicalism, and loopy conspiracy theories." The cherished myth that William F. Buckley kicked out the John Birch society and created a sound intellectual foundation for conservative gets, well, the Boot. Boot is nostalgic for Dwight D. Eisenhower, but the Republican party and the movement it embodies will never go back there. It can only chase its own tail, digging itself deeper and deeper into authoritarianism, white supremacy, patriarchy, insane conspiracy theories, rejection of science and indeed the very existence of empirical reality, all in the service of plutocracy.
The Republican party, in pulling the ground out from under the feet of its more moderate or at least sane factions, is creating space for the Democrats to become more progressive and more inclusive. If there is ever to be a legitimate center right party again in the U.S., it will have to be a new party.