Trumpers have Hijacked the Republican Party – or – The Metamorphosis of the Republican Party


Erin Holve

Graphic made by Erin Holve

I’ve been watching as Americans all across the country celebrate Joe Biden becoming the president-elect. There is a sense of joy and hope that has not been seen in our country for four years. I’m excited but know there is a lot of work and due-diligence that we as Americans need to participate in. 

As I contemplated what the landscape of the next four years would look like I couldn’t help but wonder what the future holds for the Republican Party. A party that had its roots in ideals of lowering taxes, a free market capitalist society, gun rights and deregulation. 

Those ideals may still be at the heart of the Republican Party, but President Donald J. Trump has brought in a new veneer of blatant sexism, racism and xenophobia wrapped in a veil of Christain and conservative ideology. From what I’ve gathered over the last four years is that not all Republicans identify with Trump’s form of Republicanism, but these few outliers are hard to find. 

My fellow opinion writer, Jack Lewis, wrote about a group called the “Never Trumpers” who operate an organization called the Lincoln Project. On their website they state that they have a singular mission: To defeat Donald Trump and Trumpism. 

The term “Never Trumpers” refers to the hard-right conservatives who oppose Donald Trump. A group who sees the support of Trump as leading to the debasement of their movement and eventually the destruction of the country. 

The hope is that Trump supporters will awaken from their cult-like stasis of devotion to Trump, to create a new, reality-based conservative movement. A kind of post-Trump era of conservatism. 

My hope is that the Lincoln Project can continue to grow and move the party back into the realm of reality. What will help this process is for prominent Republicans to stop pandering to the tin hat, conspiracy believing Trump supporters. 

Their fear of losing power is so great that they will use and manipulate their base no matter the means necessary. The hypocrisy of it all is amazing. The party that shouts about following in Jesus’ footsteps more often than not, lies to its followers using fear-mongering that outsiders will come and destroy their country. 

A Washington Post opinion columnist on politics both foregin and domestic, Jennifer Rubin, has one of the best responses on how to combat the Trump Republican party. She wrote an open letter to Republicans where she calls upon l Republican Sens. Mitt Romney (R-Utah), Lisa Murkowski (R-Alaska) and Susan Collins (R-Maine) to advocate for fact-based politics within the Republican party again. 

In one segment of her open letter she writes, “I bet you are more than a little relieved that President Trump lost. His erratic, outrageous conduct and refusal to operate in the real world no doubt caused you no small amount of embarrassment and pain.” 

Her directness in this letter tells us that there is still this confusing divide among Republicans. We saw this in the 2016 elections when prominent senators such as Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.) gave Trump no support, but swiftly changed their narrative when his voter base agreed with Trump. 

Even now we see Graham telling the president to not concede the presidential seat because of voter fraud conspiracies. What happened to the backbones of Republican Congressman? Do they feel so insecure in their ability to win on their own that they are willing to grovel at the feet of a man who doesn’t believe or uphold any of their party’s core values? 

Rubin’s open letter goes on to call out the Trump based ideology that has overtaken the Republican party. “Just as important, it is time to stop indulging the cranks, the conspiracy-mongers and the out-and-out liars in right-wing media and in your own caucus,” Rubin wrote. “Call out silly and baseless smears; insist on factual rigor at hearings.”

An article by Bloomberg News discusses some of the drastic measures some Republicans are willing to take in order to reclaim the party. Some conservatives believe it isn’t enough to just end Trump’s tenure in office. Rather, they hold that all officials who enabled Trump must be ousted, that Trumpism must be disavowed and the party needs to be destroyed before it can be reconstructed. 

Others would argue against such an extreme course of action. Seeing this path as leading to the loss of power within government. Their fear being that the strength they have in Congress being lost to Democrats who wish to enact a progressive agenda. 

This fear seems ungrounded seeing as the Republicans have lost the majority of power before and come back to reclaim it. They lost the majority after George W. Bush’s second term and would reclaim it once more in 2016. As the Bloomberg article put it, “Parties can bounce back quickly, even after defeats that look epochal.”

Would the first tactic work? Could Trumpism be extinguished or is it here for the long haul? 

It seems unlikely that there will be a break from the Trumpian landscape of American society. An Atlantic article argues that there are already several contenders for the 2024 election coming out of the woodwork. 

Sens. Tom Cotton of Arkansas and Josh Hawley of Missouri are aligned with several of Trump’s ideologies. Cotton has an op-ed in the New York Times where he urged for the deployment of troops to America’s cities to dispel the riots against police brutality and inequality in the justice system. 

Cotton seems to share Trump’s radical ideas on the Republican party and plans to be an unwavering defender and future extender of the party’s revolution into Trumpism. He has rejected the notion of systemic racism in the police force.. He has a strong opposition stance on immigration and would likely push for harsh immigration reform, the likes of which we have already seen within the Trump administration. 

Hawley is another possible carrier of the Trumpism view of the Republian party. He holds a strong “America First” stance like Trump. Hawley has co-sponsored legislation with Cotton that would cut legal immigration in half that has gained him notoriety as a freshman senator. 

The Atlantic article talks with Geoffrey Kabaservice, the director of political studies at the libertain Niskanen Center, who comments that many Republicans see these men as more sophisticated and effective versions of Trump. The question here is will Trump’s base go along with a more sophisticated Trump? 

Veteran Democratic pollster Stanley B. Greenberg, has been polling the Republican party since 2016 to see what comprises the Trump base. He’s seen that evangelical Christians, conservative Catholics and self-identifying Tea Party members make up about 67% of Trump’s base. 

A recent Pew study survey shows that the Republican party’s composition of registered voters consists of 66% white Christains, 58% men, 57% whites without a college degree and 56% are older than 50. These numbers are large for the Republican party, but do not reflect that overall demographic of society. 

A national poll conducted last year by the Public Religion Research Institute found a lot of correlations between those who are conservative and Trumpism ideology. Many believe in building Trump’s border wall, imposing a strict Muslim travel ban and limiting legal immigration. 

A large majority also endorsed the belief that discrimination aginst white people is as big a problem as that faced by minorities. They believe immigrants are invading America and will eventually replace American culture and ethnic backgrounds. 

Roland Brownstein, the author of the Atlantic article mentioned earlier, comments that we have to look at the lasting effects Trump’s presidency will have on American society. Most former presidents have played little to no role in the internal inner workings of the party after their tenure, but Trump looks to be shifting this narrative. 

Brownstein commented that while working on his article many people he spoke with assumed that Trump would remain highly visible after his tenure in office. Trump may continue to build his base after this election loss to come back in 2024 for his second term. 

We have to question not only what Trump will do after he is abdicated from the throne he seems to have sat himself upon, but what will his base do? We can only hope that the former Republican party can take back control from the Trumpers. 

Everyday that prominent Republican Congressmen deny the outcome of the election shows us that they have become so entrenched in the Trump ideology that they lack the ability to accept reality. Like desperate children they will hold tight to their beliefs, faces morphed into a grimace, denying the truth in hopes of making their conspiracy theories reality. 

Erin Holve can be reached at [email protected] and @Erin_Holve on Twitter.