The New Trump Party
By Claire Hardwick
As President Trump prepares to leave the White House, albeit without a formal concession yet, he is bringing his loyal Trump supporters with him. But as he departs, he has paved a new path forward that has significantly diverged from the party that first nominated him in 2015. As Trump has attacked almost every Republican icon at this point, or at least those who refused to support him, he is not welcomed into the GOP president club, but instead, starting his own club altogether.
While President Trump served, his language, policies, and tweets were polarizing to say the least. But while they generated headlines, Trump followers saw an opportunity to make a name for themselves, and pick up his millions of supporters throughout the country. Because he had so much opposition, those who put their flag down for Trump had to double down on his policies and opinions.
The problem, however, is that throughout his administration, many of his policies were anti-conservative. While he did pass a tax cut law, he failed to pass healthcare, a rallying cry for Republicans throughout the country. He also passed, twice, the largest spending bill in American history. If you look at his record, he has spent millions and sometimes billions on government programs at home and abroad. He passed tariffs on China, which he said he would be tough on, but at the same time gave government subsidies to farmers, thereby making them dependent on government handouts.
The list goes on and on, but for Trump supporters, they have left their Republican principles at the door in order to pursue what they thought was the “greater good.” Yes, the argument can be made that it’s better that a Democrat being in charge of the White House. But Trump has now fundamentally changed the party he represents. There is no greater example that when Trump floated around the idea to grant amnesty to DACA recipients. As this is probably one of the main Trump promises, to stop illegal immigration, this idea directly contradicts a core Republican voting issue. But for many Trump supporters, they just got in line instead of speaking out.
President Trump has created a cult of personality type of administration. You either stand with him, or you are out of the club. Rex Tillerson, Mattis, Steve Bannon, Scott Pruitt, Dan Coats, John Kelly, John Bolton, Dan McGahn, Kirsten Nielson-these are just few of the names that came out for Trump, and when they turned on him, so did the Trump Party. Trump said today that he wished he had fired Mattis sooner. Mattis, who was one of the stars of Trump’s cabinet, soon became discarded by the Trump supporters just because Trump said so.
Now, as we look toward the future as a party, there has to be a split. Those with Trump, who want to keep his supporters, will have to go Trump’s way. But as he is no longer in the position of power, Republicans have to realize that he lost for a reason, and rethink their message and their rhetoric if there is any chance for a White House win in 2024. The problem with the Trump Party is that their core beliefs change based on their leader. There isn’t a question or repercussions, so depending on the day, it will change.
But for the rest of Republicans, who may have been on the fence about Trump during the past four years, it’s time for a reset. It’s time to get back to the core values of the party, and hold them. Keep them, and make your leader listen to you, not the other way around. Independent thought, opinion, and observation are crucial for our party’s success, and for those of us not part of the cult mentality, it’s time to step apart and reform our message.