Can Republicans be rational?

By Fareed Zakaria Opinion writer September 29 at 7:03 PM

Donald Trump is a strange standard-bearer for Republicans. He espouses few of the party’s traditional positions and disavows most of its icons. Almost every important conservative publication — National Review, the Weekly Standard, Commentary — opposes him, as do most leading conservative pundits, from George Will to David Brooks to Bret Stephens. Of the five previous Republican nominees for president, three will not publicly affirm that they would vote for Trump and I would bet that a fourth (John McCain) will not in the privacy of the voting booth. And yet, amazingly, in polls, Trump has received around the same level of support from Republicans as previous GOP nominees — so far. The election might well hinge on one simple issue — whether Republicans prove to be rational or tribal.

The last time so many Republican leaders defected was in 1964, and Barry Goldwater was wiped out in a landslide. But polarization is so intense in the United States today that a cardboard cutout with an “R” on it would get about 43 percent of the vote, and one with a “D” would get about the same.

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