Trump Implosion Paves Way for Renewed Republican Party
If social media is any indication, many Republicans won't come out of this election cycle with the friends they had going in. Along the fault line of Donald Trump's campaign for president, our party has torn itself asunder.
Fracture has been a topic of Republican introspection for years. We're beyond mere fracture now. With prominent Republicans hurling their bodies from the Trump train as if their political lives depended on it, the party has utterly imploded. With rancor at a fever pitch, there will be no reconciliation, no regrouping after November, no putting Humpty Dumpty back together again. The party, as we have known it, is done.
It's an outcome I anticipated back in March, when I wrote of the need for a "post-apocalyptic conservative movement." By apocalypse, I don't mean the end of the world (or the Republican Party as such). Rather, in the true sense of the term, the party's apocalypse consists of radical transformation into something different. What different looks like will depend entirely on those who remain to shape it.
When Trump loses next month, which he undoubtedly will, recriminations will follow. Indeed, they have already begun with the likes of Sean Hannity pre-blaming Never Trump Republicans for the imminent election of Hillary Clinton. It's a simple, silly, and unproductive sentiment. Where blame truly lies proves more complicated, and must be understood as a prerequisite to new movement.
First, it's true what fervent Trump supporters say. The Republican establishment largely brought this on themselves. Beginning with the lackluster Bush 43, Republican politicians began a cycle of disappointment. It followed this pattern. Talk a good game about conservative principles, freedom, and the Constitution. Make sweeping promises to shrink government and fight Democrats. Get elected. Do essentially nothing or, worse, actually grow government. Rinse, wash, repeat. That pattern set the party on a descending spiral course, setting up the next stage of decay -- the Tea Party.
Yes, the Tea Party. I write this as a former Tea Party activist. I ran a statewide grassroots organization in Minnesota. I attended multiple events and training sessions put on by Tea Party Patriots and similar groups. I have some notion of what I'm talking about. And yes, I'm connecting that movement -- the movement of which I was a devoted part -- to the decay of the Republican Party.