The New York Times Magazine has published a big old interview with Fox News board member and former Speaker of the House Paul Ryan, who is promoting a book called American Renewal: A Conservative Plan to Strengthen the Social Contract and Save the Country’s Finances (long title).
In the interview, Ryan—as is his custom—attempts to disavow Donald Trump and Tucker Carlson while simultaneously justifying his career-long complicity in their elevation. (Which is ongoing! He’s on the f—ing board of Fox News.) It’s all interesting stuff, if self-delusion is your thing—and whose thing isn’t it, really?—but this, we think, is Ryan’s best soundbite:
Let’s stop carrying Donald Trump’s baggage. He’s not fit for the job, and if we nominate him again, we’re guaranteed a loss. We have basically two bases. We have the MAGA base and the suburban base. Those two give us presidencies. You have to have both. You will kill your suburban base, like we did in the Senate and the House in this last election, if we’re anywhere near Donald Trump. Let’s dump him so that we can win and actually advance our principles. I would not mess with Trump stuff.
According to Ryan, there two relevant groups of Republican voters:
1. The suburban base (sensible, important, interested in advancing principles)
2. The “MAGA base” (irresponsible, catastrophic, might as well throw your principles in a dumpster behind Dollar General)
The MAGA base is not suburban, because otherwise it would be the suburban base. And obviously no Republican base exists in America’s cities because of Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez’s pro-crime agenda. In other words, the MAGA base is country folk. Farm psychos, hill people. Swamp monsters, backwood freaks … gulch dwellers (?).
As it happens, Paul Ryan—who represented the non-suburban environs of Janesville, Wisconsin—retired from Congress in 2018, which was probably the high point for the “MAGA base” in terms of formal power. In less than a year he’d announced that he was moving from Janesville back to the D.C. area. Too many gulch dwellers!