It shows up most clearly in the debate over whether parents should get federal money for their children.

Where do Republicans go from here? Is it more populism? Trumpism without Trump? Trumpism with Trump? Warmed-over Reaganism? Will the party embrace a middle-class agenda? Or maybe it will just return to the anodyne mediocrity that gave Donald Trump an opening in the first place.

These questions are being hashed out on social media, on chat shows, in magazines, journals and other public spaces. But in my experience the most interesting and honest conversations are happening in private, with people trying to answer the question, “Who are we and what comes next?”

So far these questions have been mostly theoretical. But the debate about the nature and direction of the American right became much more concrete when the Biden administration included a child allowance as part of the Covid relief bill that just passed. While most of the attention was focused on the terms of the $1,400 stimulus payments and the proposed increase in the minimum wage, the child allowance is a major initiative that received comparatively little attention.

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