Ed Morrissey reflects on surveys reported indicating that by and large Donald Trump hasn’t expanded the GOP, but has merely brought more Republicans into the primary process. This has two rather large, negative implications for the GOP:
- It means that unless something changes Trump will likely underperform Mitt Romney in the general election, handing the GOP a shattering defeat.
- It means that many people in the GOP weren’t conservatives to begin with, and the party has truly lost its way.
This last point ties in with what I said here: Trump voters are essentially center-left populists who left the Democratic Party and drifted to the GOP a long time ago because they couldn’t stand minorities, hippies, and the hard left, as exemplified by Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama. To put it another way, they are people who have confused Archie Bunkerism with conservatism–a mistake only a liberal would really ever make.
The three legs of Republican conservatism have always been a strong national defense, fiscal responsibility, and a firm adherence to the sanctity of human life. The only leg that Trump appears to stand for is a strong national defense, but this is illusory: No one wanting to rip up America’s treaties with Japan, South Korea, and NATO and make nice with Russia and North Korea could be accused of wanting a strong national defense. Rather, Trump is someone who likes to make brash statements on foreign policy, but who has no clear thoughts on the matter beyond glib soundbites.
Trump and his supporters are reactionaries (to use a socialist term), and certainly not conservatives in any meaningful sense of the term. Trump’s candidacy has thus been helpful in clarifying where people really stand, and explaining why after so many years of GOP political dominance (and it has been dominant in the US since 1980, with the exception of the presidency), conservative goals have largely fallen by the wayside.