Obama On The Devolution Of The Republican Party: I See A Straight Line From Sarah Palin To Donald Trump

New York Magazine today published an interview with President Obama which largely focuses on his legacy. But this is the quote that’s getting notice:

“I see a straight line from the announcement of Sarah Palin as the vice-presidential nominee to what we see today in Donald Trump, the emergence of the Freedom Caucus, the tea party, and the shift in the center of gravity for the Republican Party. Whether that changes, I think, will depend in part on the outcome of this election, but it’s also going to depend on the degree of self-reflection inside the Republican Party. There have been at least a couple of other times that I’ve said confidently that the fever is going to have to break, but it just seems to get worse.

“It also is why, I think, for Democrats, it’s important for us to understand that whether or not we are able to achieve certain policy objectives is going to be primarily dependent on how many votes we’ve got in each chamber and our ability to move public opinion. And it is not, these days, going to be as dependent on classic deal-making between Democrats and Republicans, or that we won’t move enough to the center on fiscal policy or my — not just me, but subsequent presidents — playing enough golf or drinking enough Scotch with members.

“I have very cordial relations with a lot of the Republican members. We can have really great conversations and arrive at a meeting of the minds on a range of policy issues, but if they think they’re going to lose seats or that they’re going to lose their own seat because the social media has declared that they sold out the Republican Party, then they won’t do it. That dynamic, I think, is going to be harder and harder to change because of the balkanization of the media, because of political gerrymandering.

“It is evident that Republicans pay a price for that narrowing of their perspective in presidential elections, but for the individual member of Congress in a 60 percent Republican district in Oklahoma or Arkansas or anyplace in the country, that doesn’t matter. What matters is that all his constituencies or her constituencies are watching Fox News and listening to Rush, and they’re going to pay a price if they’re seen as being too cozy with a Democratic president.”