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Paul Ryan's decision to retire from Congress is being interpreted as a sign by many that the Republicans will do poorly in the midterm elections.The GOP of the '50s and '60s was the party of American business, drawing broad support from white-collar professionals and country-club businessmen. The Democrats, heretofore the party of the Jim Crow South, became the party of civil rights, while the Republicans, the party of Lincoln, began to mirror the resentments of Southern whites against the federal government and civil rights legislation.Reagan finished what Nixon started, turning the GOP into an ideologically oriented party, staunchly advocating free markets, free trade, limited government and an enthusiastic internationalism that promoted democracy abroad. The Reagan redefinition of the party, as a quasi-libertarian organization, persisted through the Clinton years, though the GOP always continued to bring along its socially conservative base. The party leaders and its official ideology were Reaganite.The base of the party – now older, whiter and less educated – was with Trump, not Ryan.The second transformation of the Republican Party is now complete.
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