Trump Reflects the Transformation of the GOP

John Cassidy comments on the “larger reality” that Trump’s style of campaigning reflects.

“With Trump in a strong position to win the primary, Republicans are engaged in a bitter battle not just about who will represent them in November, but about the broader nature of their party. For the past forty years, the G.O.P. has been an uneasy alliance of social conservatives, free-market conservatives, and corporate interest groups, with the latter largely dictating economic policy. Trump has been drawing on a base of alienated white working-class and middle-class voters, seeking to remake the G.O.P. into a more populist, nativist, avowedly protectionist, and semi-isolationist party that is skeptical of immigration, free trade, and military interventionism.”

“To transform a political party, you need a clear message, a broad electoral base, and allies within the existing power structure. Trump now has all three of these things. As I’ve pointed out before, his claim that Washington is broken and can only be fixed by an outsider resonates with many Americans, and not just arch-conservatives. So does his demagoguery about illegal immigrants and the supposed threat that Muslims present. What is perhaps more surprising, at least to Washington-based conservatives, is how many Republicans are also embracing Trump’s populist lines on ending free trade, protecting Social Security, and providing basic health care.”

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