Both Ross Douthat and I have concluded that the Republican Party is set to learn the wrong lessons from the rise of Donald Trump. The party, as we know it, is going to die because the party leadership is incapable of changing. We should examine part of this from one side that rarely gets mentioned — consultants.
The consultant class within the GOP has arranged their deck chairs on the Titanic of the RNC so that they win whether the party wins or loses. But if the party were to reform and reconnect with its grassroots, the opportunities for much of the consultant class currently in power would shrivel up and die.
While there are a lot of consultants who started out as ideological warriors, for the most part they were always establishment figures who got addicted to keeping up with the Joneses, the beach houses, and the money. Even many of those who went in as ideological warriors realized the system was designed to reward the sell outs.
The consultants tied to the leadership of the party have created a rigged game. If you are their friends, you get contracts. If you are not their friends, you get shut out. It has created perverse incentives for even the race for RNC Chairman, where consultants line up with candidates knowing they will either get or lose contracts depending on the outcome. There is little merit.
The consultants embed at the RNC, NRCC, and NRSC and give no bid contracts to friends. Many of their friends in the RNC, NRCC, NRSC and leadership offices then go out to K Street as lobbyists and return the favor of giving grassroots and astroturf contracts to their consultant friends.
It is very incestuous and provides an incentive for no change in leadership, no change in thinking, and no change in culture. It is killing candidate like Sen. Marco Rubio (R-FL) and Jeb Bush and also killing the GOP itself. The people who are most likely to call for change are the people now surrounded with the very consultants who benefit from a system that does not change.