It’s now probably too late, but in the summer or even the fall the Republican party might have been able to stop the rise of Donald Trump. Stopping Trump would have required voters, activists, donors, institutional supporters, and party leaders to collectively recognize, engage, and cooperate in solving the problem. There’s still time to “solve” the Trump problem, but now it will simply create other problems at least as damaging to the Republicans’ chance of winning in November. An earlier effort that limited the damage to the party may not have succeeded, but we’ll never know. The party never decided to try. And it shouldn’t surprise anyone they never did.
For a hundred years Republicans have imagined America on the verge of forced collectivization. An abiding constant in GOP politics and policy–maybe the only constant–is a rabid opposition to organized labor. They’ve shunted aside the classic conservative emphasis on tradition and communal bonds for the libertarian pablum of Ayn Rand, the soundbites and lobbying of Grover Norquist, and the money and campaign prowess of Charles and David Koch. They mocked “It Takes a Village” and “you didn’t build that.” And they respond to government efforts to promote a common good with reactionary resistance to any curbs on their individual autonomy.
So it should surprise no one that a problem requiring a collective response has paralyzed the Republicans with a collective action problem.