The big winners under the American fiscal system are the rich, who pay some of the lowest taxes anywhere in the world; the old, who are the main beneficiaries of the American social service state; farmers, rural people. These are Republican constituencies.
The elite isn't leading anymore. It's trapped.
Maybe it's true that people with less extreme views who are also interested in public affairs have been driven out by a marketplace that doesn't offer them anything of the tone they want to listen to.