The meteoric rise of Donald J Trump has taken the Republican Party by storm and captivated the nation during this presidential election cycle. I always have been and will continue to be a political junkie. I love talking to people about politics and the important issues that are affecting the good old US of A. It’s been fascinating to watch the candidacy of Donald Trump. His brash rhetoric and strongman persona has captivated the media and drawn voters to his cause.
The question that I hear often from people when I talk about Trump, the GOP, and the 2016 presidential election cycle is, “Will Trump ruin the Republican Party?” This is a man that has made incendiary comments about women, threatens to “temporarily” ban Muslims from entering the country, wants to build a wall along our southern border, and has replaced deliberation and debate with name-calling, ridicule, and insults. Think “little Marco Rubio, lyin’ Ted, and crooked Hillary.” Over 60% of American’s view him unfavorably and he continues to make statements that shock our international allies abroad.
Despite these comments, Trump bested a field of 17 successful business and political leaders in the Republican Party. Senators, governors, and Republicans all across the conservative spectrum were beaten fair and square by the billionaire businessman. He claims that his candidacy has energized the Republican Party and perhaps he’s right. Republican voter turnout is certainly higher this year than it was in 2012. “In the aggregate, Republican turnout in the primaries and caucuses through March 5 was up 40% from 2012, an analysis by Republican polling firm Public Opinion Strategies found, while Democratic turnout was down from the party’s last competitive primary, in 2008,” said Aaron Zitner in The Wall Street Journal.
Although there is evidence that voter turnout has increased with his candidacy, many fear that his polarizing persona is equally galvanizing the Democratic Party and will doom him and Republicans in November.
So the questions remains, “will Trump tear apart the party of Lincoln?” The answer is, no. Why? Because politics is cyclical. The same tide that comes in must goes out.
I’m confident that Trump and the “Make America Great Again” movement will not doom the GOP because history proves that politics is cyclical. Evidence? Turn your clocks back to August 9th, 1974. President Richard Milhous Nixon handed in his resignation letter and left to Yorba Linda, California, leaving a beleaguered and confused nation.
It doesn’t take a genius to know that for Republicans, it must have seemed like the sky was falling. There were predictions that Nixon’s demise would negatively affect the Republicans for generations. It didn’t take long for Republican fears to manifest during the next election cycle. The 1974 midterm elections were a disaster for the GOP. The Democrats gained 49 seats in the House of Representatives and increased their majority to the two-thirds mark. Several Democrats won election to the Senate and the Democrats gained a 61 to 38 advantage over Republicans.
Furthermore, Democrats swept gubernatorial races across the US with 36 Democratic governors to 13 Republicans governors. It was a Republican’s doomsday. Republicans fears of electoral disaster manifested again after President Gerald Ford lost the presidential election to Jimmy Carter in 1976. Again, the sky was falling.
However, due to an underperforming Jimmy Carter presidency and a host of international issues (think Iran hostage crisis) that damaged America’s standing in the world, the nation elected the charismatic Hollywood star, Ronald Reagan into office just four years later. The ascension of Ronald Reagan to the seat of power in American politics brought a conservative revolution that changed domestic and international politics and led to three successive Republican presidential victories.
So is the sky falling for Republicans? Is the Grand Ol’ Party doomed for generations because of Donald Trump? I don’t think so.
However, the Republican Party has to do some soul searching and lay out a clear vision for the American public. Since President Obama has gotten elected, the Republicans (to me) have become the party of “no” and have been reactionary in their policies. Where are the days of “it’s morning again in America,” like we had in the Reagan presidency?
American demographics are rapidly changing. The millennial generation is coming to age and at over 78 million strong has already proven to be a powerful force in the electorate (and leans to the political left). The US Census Bureau is predicting that the United States will be a majority-minority nation by 2044 with blacks and Hispanics replacing whites as the majority.
In fact, by 2060 the Hispanics population is projected to be at nearly 30% of the U.S. population (one-quarter of the total population). The Republicans need to start making serious inroads into minority groups and the youth of this nation. And they need to do it now. It doesn’t help that Trump has angered many Hispanics in his comments about Mexico and the Great Wall we’re building along the Rio Grande.
Reince Priebus, chairman of the Republican Party, has called for the Party to reinvent itself and elevate minorities to key positions in the party. Priebus and Speaker Paul Ryan should continue to champion an aggressive outreach strategy to minorities and millennials. They should target sharp, young minority political candidates and get behind them in local and state elections.
The rhetoric from Trump has at times been appalling. However, is Trump solely the one to blame? I agree with Paul Waldman assessment of where the rhetoric of Trump came from and why it’s so appealing to Republican voters. He writes, “…the fact is that most of the really appalling things about Trump are merely extensions of the GOP and the conservative movement. Trump’s appalling nativism is only a slightly more unadorned version of what the party’s constituents believe; even if he had never entered the race, the other candidates would still have been accusing each other of supporting “amnesty” and not being tough enough on the foreign horde seeking to invade our land. The whole “reaching out to minorities” thing wasn’t going too well before Trump came along.”
Personally, I don’t believe Trump will particularly help the Republican Party in local, state, House, and Senate elections this November. However, there are many in the electorate that see his brash, “tell-it-like-it-is” style as refreshing and badly needed in a world that many of them consider to be too politically correct.
Additionally, it’s important to note that the GOP is in pretty good shape overall, especially on the sub-presidential level. There are currently 31 Republican governors compared to 18 Democratic governors (one independent). On top of that, there are 23 Republican trifectas and 7 Democratic (a trifecta is when one political party holds a majority in two state houses and the governorship).
In the grand scheme of things, the Republican Party is fairly strong and while (to establishment figures) Trump seems to have hijacked the party, the show will go on and the party will regroup. I think the GOP needs to stick to Chairman Priebus’ plan and continue an aggressive outreach to millennials and other minority groups. Either way, we are experiencing one of the most fascinating moments in American political history. Should be an interesting November.
I’m Harold Dorrell Briscoe. Thanks for reading.