As Margaret Thatcher once said, first you win the argument, then you win the vote. One of the appealing things to me about the Republican Party in the early 1980s, as a young conservative, was that it had become a party of ideas, of governing experiment. But somewhere along the way large numbers of Republicans began to devalue serious ideas. For example, as early as 2013, Gov. Chris Christie of New Jersey, one of Mr. Trump’s most emphatic supporters, said of his fellow Republicans, “I think we’ve had too many people who’ve become less interested in winning an election and more interested in winning an argument.”
Pointing to the precise moment this devaluation occurred is difficult; it was a gradual process. But the embodiment of what I’m talking about is someone like Sarah Palin, who started out as a relatively conventional, if unaccomplished, Republican governor and was thrust into the spotlight as John McCain’s vice-presidential nominee in 2008. Since then she has become the proud personification of thoughtlessness. I don’t agree with President Obama on very much, but he was right when he said there was a straight line that could be drawn from Ms. Palin to Mr. Trump. A party that produces Ms. Palin as its vice-presidential nominee and Mr. Trump as its nominee is at war with reason.
Peter Wehner, “Is There Life After Trump?”, The New York Times (6 November 2016), SR5.