Trump has pulled out all of the stops feeding the hateful fantasies of a large racist and fearful chunk of the white population. Many, the Tea Party component, are what Trump represents, but why are so many of the party elites along for the ride. Paul Krugman suggests the tax rate on the upper class is key. Money trumps morality.
One answer is that these were never men and women of principle. I know that many in the news media are still determined to portray Mr. Ryan, in particular, as an honest man serious about policy, but his actual policy proposals have always been transparent con jobs.
Another answer is that in an era of intense partisanship, the greatest risk facing many Republican politicians isn’t that of losing in the general election, it’s that of losing to an extremist primary challenger. This makes them afraid to cross Mr. Trump, whose ugliness channels the true feelings of the party’s base.
But there’s a third answer, which can be summarized in one number: 34.