How Greenwich Republicans Learned to Love Trump

Evan Osnos in The New Yorker:

The story of Trump’s rise is often told as a hostile takeover. In truth, it is something closer to a joint venture, in which members of America’s élite accepted the terms of Trumpism as the price of power. Long before anyone imagined that Trump might become President, a generation of unwitting patrons paved the way for him. From Greenwich and places like it, they launched a set of financial, philanthropic, and political projects that have changed American ideas about government, taxes, and the legitimacy of the liberal state.

The former congressman Christopher Shays is a moderate Republican who was elected eleven times to represent the Gold Coast, from 1987 to 2009. Now conservatives mock him as a rino—a Republican in name only. “When Sean Hannity calls someone like me a rino, I want to punch him in the nose,” Shays told me. “I got elected as a Republican for thirty-four effing years, and Hannity has never gotten elected for anything.” When Shays talks to former staff and constituents in Connecticut, he has come to recognize the delicate language of accommodation: “I was talking to a guy I know well, after some pathetic thing that Trump did, and his response was ‘Yes, but he’s selecting the right Supreme Court Justices.’ I started to laugh at him, because I know for a fact that’s a minor issue for him.” Shays believes that many Americans quietly share Trump’s desire to reduce immigration and cut social-welfare programs for the poor. “He’s saying what people think, and they appreciate that,” Shays said. “But not many are going to admit that’s why they support him.”

When it comes to the essential question—will Trump get reëlected?—the answer rests heavily on a persistent mystery: how many Americans plan to vote for him but wouldn’t say so to a pollster? In Greenwich, Edward Dadakis, a corporate insurance broker who has been involved with Republican politics for fifty years, told me that many of his friends are “below the radar screen.” He went on, “In a sense, I’m one of them. I’m out there in the public domain, so people know where I stand, but in 2016, for the first election ever, I did not put a bumper sticker on my car.” He worries how strangers will react. He said, “I still have two ‘Make America Great Again’ hats at home, wrapped in plastic.”

More here.