On Monday, writing for the conservative Trump-skeptic website The Bulwark, editor Benjamin Parker outlined one of the strongest signs the Republican Party is an authoritarian institution in decline: Its "brain drain" of intellectuals from the party — and its celebration of this phenomenon.
"One of the problems of strangling and restricting a society for political expediency is that there are always other options," wrote Parker. "The people with the most human capital — extraordinary abilities, intelligence, skills, etc. — are the most likely to defect. The Soviet Union and its allies leaked talent at an extraordinary rate. Judging by how many former Republican luminaries have publicly broken with Trump, the Republican party, or both, its brain drain could be even quicker."
As examples, Parker noted that over 100 former staffers of Sen. John McCain (R-AZ), a number of alumni of the George W. Bush administration, and several former GOP national security staffers endorsed Joe Biden, and the fact that four prominent Republicans spoke at the Democratic National Convention.
"The Republican party has shed many of its legal, economic, foreign policy, and political experts — the very people who enabled it to govern," continued Parker. "Its new leading legal light is Rudy Giuliani. Its foreign policy guru is ... maybe Sen. Rand Paul? (Sorry, Mike Pompeo.) Its most accomplished economist is Larry Kudlow. The Trumpist 'intellectual' movement is a bit like the Soviets' ersatz space shuttle — it never really got off the ground."
And yet, noted Parker, the Republicans who remain are pleased with this state of affairs.
"Sycophants are the only people who won't threaten the power structure," wrote Parker. Moreover, it allows the Republican Party "ideological and political flexibility" if its adherents aren't intellectually consistent. But all of this will hurt them in the long run: "At least in theory, a political party's purpose is to win and hold power. How is the Republican party supposed to do that if all the smart, experienced, well-trained, well-organized people have left the party?"
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