To understand the Republican Party that’s convened in Tampa, and how much it differs from the one that nominated John McCain just four years ago, it helps to keep in mind the kind of people who now make up its activist core. Though Mitt Romney will accept the Republican nomination tonight, the party no longer belongs to the establishment he represents. It’s much more the party of someone like Karen Jaroch.
Jaroch is a Tampa native in her late forties, trained as an industrial engineer, a wife and mother, a churchgoer and P.T.A. member, and in every way an ordinary middle-class woman, down to her geographically indeterminate middle American accent. She’s also an embodiment of the dramatic turn in conservative politics since Barack Obama became President. From its first days, his Presidency made her fear for her children’s future.