Nov 6, 2019 • 50M

Theory of Change #004: Bruce Bartlett on whether Trump really changed the GOP

The dim-witted former reality star has sold out to party elites just as much as they've sold out to him

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Matthew Sheffield
Lots of people want to change the world. But how does change happen? History is filled with stories of people and institutions that spent big and devoted many resources to effect change but have little to show for it. By contrast, many societal developments have happened without forethought from anyone. And of course, change can be negative as well as positive. In each episode of this weekly program, Theory of Change host Matthew Sheffield delves deep with guests to discuss larger trends in politics, religion, media, and technology.
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There’s been a lot of commentary about how Donald Trump is changing the Republican Party. There’s even a cottage industry of former Republicans who often write about how Trump has ruined the GOP they once knew and loved.

But according to Bruce Bartlett, a former senior White House economic adviser to President Bush 41, most of what today’s Trump skeptics point to as something new in the party was there long ago. Bartlett had a falling out with the GOP in the early 2000s when he realized that its leaders were not interested in the fiscal conservatism that they promised on the campaign trail.

That took him on a long road, one which led to him becoming a progressive. In this episode, Theory of Change host Matthew Sheffield talks with Bartlett about his ideological journey and also his thoughts on today’s political situation.

According to the former libertarian economist, Democrats don’t take politics seriously enough to invest in the political infrastructure that conservatives spent decades building up. The net effect is that American politics continues drifting rightward, even though most Americans do not actually support cutting the government.