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The showdown that exposed the rift between Republican ideology and reality

Republicans calling for a return to the pro-business government of the 1920s never reflected political reality – and now the party can never be the same

On Friday, not with a final stand but with an ignominious retreat, the modern Republican party died. Speaker of the House Paul Ryan had to pull the Republicans’ repeal of America’s Affordable Care Act before members of his own party killed it. That legislative defeat was the moment Republican ideology engaged in its first real battle with reality, and reality won. The Republican party can never again be the same.

Since 1980, Republican leadership has embraced the draconian goal of dismantling the New Deal state. When Democrats under Franklin D Roosevelt put in place policies to regulate business and finance, protect workers, and provide a basic social safety net in the hope of preventing another Great Depression, a reactionary rump of pro-business Republicans howled.

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