The recent Republican National Convention was scandalous for many reasons — from the misuse of the White House as a campaign prop (in violation of the Hatch Act and long standing norms) and the brazen mendacity of its speakers, to the parade of Trump family members. Amid the tawdry spectacle of the GOP — short for Grand Old Party, the Republican Party — being transformed into a subsidiary of the Trump organisation, one shocking aspect stood out: The party offered no platform. The Republicans’ only purpose, apparently, is “to enthusiastically support the President’s America-first agenda”.

On one level, eschewing a policy platform can be read as a smart strategy to insulate the party from Donald Trump the person. In the event that Trump is defeated in November, members of the GOP establishment can wash their hands of it, claiming that it was only an unpopular leader who lost and the party’s long-standing principles remain sound.

But a more plausible interpretation is that the toxic mix of polarisation and hyper-partisanship in America has reached a new level of concentration. Having been completely hollowed out, at least one of the country’s main political parties no longer fulfils its basic democratic function.

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