Interesting analysis! I totally agree that there’s some serious internal conflict happening inside the party that has only begun to take shape, and it’s odd to me how little attention it’s getting. I don’t think the party is headed for a split, though. In fact, I think you might underestimate the intelligence and rationality of cultural Republicans just a little. I’m no expert on them, but I’ve lived and worked in rural America and sat at dinner tables with a lot of folks who could be called cultural Republicans or cultural conservatives, and I don’t think their politics depends solely on direct, personal experience. I think a lot of it comes down to expectations.

In my experience, rural, old school conservatives have very high expectations for themselves. They want to be self-sustaining and independent. They’re happy to offer you help but unlikely to ask for help themselves. They’re heavily invested in their local communities and strive to keep those communities healthy and vibrant. So if their community fails or breaks down in some way, they take it personally and see it as a reflection of their own shortcomings. And these expectations they have for themselves are at the root of the expectations they have for the president, which is why they cheer on Trump’s apparent hostility to globalist free trade policies — they see globalism as a threat to their self-sufficiency, independence and sense of community. And to be honest, I don’t blame them. Globalism has left a lot of workers in the dust and laid waste to countless small towns that were built around coal mining, manufacturing and other dying industries. And the rest of America didn’t bother to take notice until it was too late to really do anything about it.

In that context, it sounds like the business and cultural pillars can never experience reconciliation, but I’m not so sure that’s the case. For it to happen, you need a candidate who can balance the practical concerns of the business pillar with the interests of rural America, someone who can maintain America’s standing in the global economy while simultaneously creating the necessary conditions for rural America’s resurgence by opening up new avenues to the self-sufficiency and independence that cultural conservatives are so desperate to rediscover. That’s basically what Trump has promised them. And while I seriously doubt he can pull it off, there has to be someone out there who can make that happen.

Outer space enthusiast. Japanese history junkie. I write about politics, culture, and mental illness. Disagreement is a precursor to progress.

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