Trump: The Death of the Republican Party?

  • December 4, 2020
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Trump: The death of the Republican Party? – Republican Article

In the last four years, the otherwise steady decline of the GOP (The Republican Party) has accelerated in a downwards spiral. This is a direct result of Trumpism. The Republican Party has changed fundamentally over time and has shifted further towards the right. Whether this shift started with Barry Goldwater and Richard Nixon in the 60s, or with Ronald Reagan in the 80s, Republicans of yesteryear would repudiate what the party has become.

But where did things go wrong?

The party was founded in 1854 by those opposed to the Kansas-Nebraska Act which would allow slavery to expand westwards in the US. It was founded on ideas of classic liberalism, was anti-Slavery, and supported economic reform. Abraham Lincoln was the first Republican president and under his leadership, and a majority Republican Congress, slavery was outlawed in the US. It was a party of progressives, of the cosmopolitan Northerner who sought to revolutionize and industrialize the American economy following the Civil War.

Throughout the early 20th century the party was led by various pro-business Presidents such as Harding, Coolidge, and Hoover. Following the Crash of 1929 and the subsequent Great Depression, the 30s and 40s were dominated by Democrat Franklin Delano Roosevelt. However, come 1952, a Republican by the name of Eisenhower returned to the office. Then came Nixon and Ford.

The major turning point for the party was certainly Ronald Reagan’s two terms as president. “Reaganomics” was introduced which intended to cut taxes and expand government deregulation. Military spending was increased to further US interests abroad and most importantly, to counter the USSR. Reagan certainly left his mark on the party, and arguably revived conservatism in the US. Furthermore, his actions essentially secured the Republican party as the “tax-cutting” party, something which would plague all Republican presidents who followed. Bush Sr. came to call Reaganomics “voodoo economics”.

But where does Trump fit in all of this?

Trump’s presidency marked a populist shift in the Republican Party. Establishment Republicans such as Lindsey Graham, John Kasich, and John McCain all opposed Trump’s candidacy. But Trump isn’t like establishment politicians. He has no respect for government institutions and their processes. If he doesn’t like someone, he axes them. If they speak out against him, he axes them or tries his best to exile them from the party.

The best example of this is John McCain. He was openly outspoken against Trump and his presidency. This caused Trump to try his best to tarnish his reputation and legacy, even following his death. Lindsey Graham eventually succumbed to Trump, whether it be out of fear for his Senate seat, or because he lost his way following the death of his close friend John McCain. Whatever it may be, Trumpism has sunken its claws deep into the party, with no intention of letting go anytime soon.

It’s already having devastating effects on the country. Trump’s cult following is not only misinformed, but they’re also dangerous. Conspiracy theories such as Qanon have even begun to take over politicians; over two dozen Congressional candidates endorse or believe in Qanon and its ludicrous claims. Trump’s underlying racist rhetoric has also caused deep divides within the country, pitting its own people against one another for the sake of political gain. His campaign slogan, “Make America Great Again” is nothing more than empty promises. It is a deluded vision of grandeur that somehow the US has lost its greatness and Trump is the one to lead us back on a path towards success.

After failing to secure a second term as president, Trump has somehow convinced millions of Americans that the election was rigged and that Joe Biden did not win. This even led to some of his cultists attempting to break into a ballot counting facility in Arizona. Trump’s true political genius comes in how he identified such an easily corruptible base and exploited their ignorance for his own gain. Millions of Americans are now enthralled with this despot, and Trump is no longer just a thorn in the side of the GOP. He now threatens the very survival of the party.

How does the GOP recover from Trumpism?

Unfortunately, there isn’t a clear answer to this. Trump may have lost the election, but a Trump endorsement still carries much weight when it comes to other positions, such as Senators and Congressmen. His cult would rather boycott an election than vote for a Republican who dislikes Trump or is openly critical of Trump. Control of the Senate now rests in the two run-off elections in Georgia in January of 2021. If the GOP is to lose the Senate, the US will essentially be a one-party state with Democratic control of the House, Senate, and Presidency. Though, it is important to note that Republicans flipped many key seats in the House which will allow them to redraw districts in their favor. This will likely lead to a Republican majority in the House if things pan out correctly.

2024 will be a very important year for the GOP. Trump’s damage will mark the party for decades. However, Trump will not be the one to kill a party which has existed and prospered for over 150 years.

The next presidential election will, hopefully, present a fresh beginning for the Republican party. It will allow traditional, established Republicans to retake the reins of the party and set it on a new path. Ideally, looking back on Republicans of the past, understanding the importance of economic freedom with government intervention where necessary. They must also recognise the importance of environmental regulation and how we must immediately act on climate change.

Written by Republican Writer, Sebastian Calcopietro

Point of Information

Trump is the Logical Conclusion of the Republican Party – A Democratic Reply

As my friend colleague astutely notes, the GOP has been shifting rightward for over half a century. This has opened the door for a far-right candidate like Donald Trump. Funnily enough, the first Republican president, Abraham Lincoln, had correspondences with Karl Marx. I’m assuming if any Republican had correspondences any prominent Marxists, such as Slavoj Žižek, it would deeply be frowned upon.

Sebastian is also correct in noting that Barry Goldwater accelerated the party’s rightward shift. Goldwater championed many of the values the modern Republican Party holds dear. He advocated for high military spending but low government spending on social programs. This constitutional “originalism”, is in itself, impossible to achieve as the document was written nearly 200 years even before Goldwater’s 1964 campaign. He voted against the civil rights act and he was deeply suspicious of the Soviet Union.

Goldwater paved the way for Reagan who is now the standard-bearer of the Republican Party. Reagan espoused extreme conservatism. He didn’t so much revive it as put it on steroids. Reagan also opened the door to populism as he was a fervently anti-government and anti-intellectual, again paving the way for Trump.

While Sebastian claims Trump marked a populist shift for the Republican Party, I think rather Reagan and even more so, Pat Buchanan increased populism within the party. Buchanan even challenged Bush Sr. in 1996. In his campaign, Buchanan called Bush a “globalist” and warned of a new world order. Two terms that are common in right-wing and Trump-supporting circles. Buchanan also talked about the “forgotten Americans” left behind in “bad trade deals”. This is all rhetoric Trump has used throughout his political life.

Trump is doing what he has always done his whole life. Slapping his name on something that is already built. “Trumpism” was already a growing phenomenon within the party. It just needed someone to bring it out overtly. Trump also still has a frighteningly tight grip on the party, with many senators not willing to congratulate Joe Biden on his victory. Many republican politicians fear getting primaried by a Trumpian candidate like they did by the Tea Party in the early 2010s.

Although 2024 will be important for the GOP I think 2022 will be even more important. When Trump’s name is on the ballot Republican turnout and enthusiasm has been sky high. In 2016 they won control of the legislative and executive branch. In 2020 they won many seats in the house cutting into the Democrats’ majority.

2022 will show what kind of Republican will win votes. Whether it be the more establishment types, such as Marco Rubio, who is running for reelection, or a more “Trumpian” challenger. If the party manages to rebuke “Trumpism” in 2022 it will make his 2024 run more difficult.

That being said, the base has the final say and they seem to be infatuated with all things Trump. So at least for the time being the Republican Party is the “Trumpism” party.

Written by Democratic Writer, Ali Lahrech

Trumpism is Here to Stay – A Foreign Perspective

I agree with much of what my colleague has put. The GOP has suffered under Trump, a once respectful party has now been taken over by populist forces. Trump’s mark will underscore the party for years to come. The Republican party’s shift under Trump is comparable to previous shifts in the party. It will not go with Trump.

The failure of the party to condemn Trump’s misguided efforts to pursue election cases in the courts show his control over the party, even though the election will not be overturned. Some Republicans are waking up to reality. However, with a Republican election official for Georgia passionately criticising Trump for condoning violence, more Republicans must do the same.

Hopefully, more will do after Trump has left office when they perceive themselves to be in less danger. However, even this shows how Trump has bullied the party to his will. If they want to prevent a Trump-like presidency again, they must speak now.

Tump and his family will not fade into obscurity either. They will do everything they can to keep control, and that will include undermining the Republican party. His base will remain fully loyal and passionate for years to come, which will no doubt influence who represents the GOP.  As mentioned, they would rather boycott a Republican candidate that criticises Trump.

2024 is a chance for the Republican party to start fresh. However, I fear that it will miss its chance. Trump will run again. It’s even been suggested that his children might. While this does not mean they will win, them running will no doubt bring up the events from the past and will scar the party. It will re-energise the base into making absurd claims about the other primary candidates.

The GOP needs a candidate who can hold their own against Trump. It needs someone who can bring the Republican party back to its senses.

The Republican Party will return; however, it will not be anytime soon. One thing they can start with is working with Biden. Prove that consensus politics can work and the Trumpist politics of conflict do not.

Written by Foreign Writer, Kieran Burt

Sebastian Calcopietro
Junior Conservative Writer at | Website
Hello, my name is Sebastian or “Seb” and I am currently going into my third year of
studies at the University of Exeter, completing a bachelor’s degree in International
Relations.
Ali Lahrech
Democratic Writer | Website

Hi, I’m Ali and I’m in my third year at the University of Toronto. I’m studying International Relations as my major and Spanish as my minor.

 

I was born and raised in Washington DC to Moroccan parents. This gave me a unique lens with which to observe the country I was raised in. While I am an American citizen, I often have a different perspective than my friends and peers whose families have been in the United States for much longer than mine. Growing up in around DC also gave the unique opportunity of being at the heart of American politics. Ever since President Barrack Obama’s first inauguration in 2009 I was hooked.

 

I have always been left of the American center and most closely aligned myself with the Democratic party. While I vote for the Democratic party, like many Americans I’m starting to feel more and more disillusioned with them and the two-party system. The 2016 election is was the catalyst for my dissatisfaction with the American political parties. I had seen the Republican party move further and further right while the Democrats hadn’t really moved left. They had essentially implemented a policy of appeasement towards the Republicans. In summation I was disappointed that the Democrats had bent the knee to Republicans rather than proposing and implementing bold and forward-thinking policies that would help Americans.

 

This disappointment and disillusionment started to transform into optimism after the 2018 midterms. I saw that there was still hope for a bright future for America. The Democratic party had started to shift leftwards, albeit at a snail’s pace. After the 2018 midterms I became a man possessed by American politics. As I dove deeper and deeper into American politics, I realized that we don’t know enough about it. This fact is why I think it is key for all of us, no matter our perspectives, to have a conversation with each other and most importantly listen to one another; so, we better understand one another and where we’re coming from.

 

Therefore, I look forward to sharing my perspective with POI and reading others’ with great enthusiasm.

 

 

Kieran Burt
Conservative writer at | Website

Hello, my name is Kieran Burt and I am going into second year at Nottingham Trent University studying Politics and International Relations. I first developed an interest in politics through reading the Dictator’s Handbook by Alastair Smith and Bruce Bueno de Mesquita, when I was 16, and have furthered my interest by studying politics at A level and now at university.

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