Hollywood is filled with remakes and reboots. Washington is about to get one of its own. The re-launched property: the 2016 campaign.
You know the plot. An outsider with grassroots support leads a crusade against the party establishment and the legitimating institutions that bestow credibility upon a candidate. He's old, white, been around for a while, says some things that are outside the mainstream, and has a fickle relationship to his party. But he possesses a strange charisma, dominates the conversation, and is willing to speak to audiences outside the typical party coalition.
The novelty in this retelling of 2016: Our outsider is fighting the Democratic Party, not the GOP. The original version starred Donald Trump. The update features Bernie Sanders.
I still have the scars from Trump's march through the institutions of the right. One by one, he took on and defeated the power brokers of the American conservative movement and Republican Party. He turned his "pledge" to support the nominee into a political coup, the beginning of his takeover of the Republican National Committee. He challenged the authority of conservative media critical of him, including such important brands as Fox News Channel and National Review. Burned by the right's foreign policy hands and economists, he got by with a ragtag crew of wonks, intellectuals, and journalists. What money he raised came from small-dollar contributions.
Trump shook the Republican Party to its foundations. He forced it to recognize his power, drawn not from Beltway credentials but from the Republican voter base. It was not that Trump remained unchanged. Beginning in 2011, he adopted core Republican positions such as support for the right to life, for the Second Amendment, for supply-side tax cuts, and for constitutionalist judges on the bench. Once in power he listened and sometimes deferred to Paul Ryan and Mitch McConnell. But the GOP changed more. It is no longer the party it was before Donald Trump. Never will be.