After Trump: The Fracturing and the Future of the GOP

Beyond any particular party lines or staunchly-held ideologies, the indisputable fact that the GOP must now prepare to regroup, rebuild, and pick up the pieces of a party in disarray after the 2016 election. Media outlets across the nation agree that Donald J. Trump, the Republican nominee for president, has completely transformed the Republican party.

According to POLITICO, the Republican platform presented at the Republican National Convention in Cleveland this summer maintained many conservative social values, such as a strong position against adoption for same-sex couples. But the platform presented a change in tone on trade issues, like NAFTA and the TPP: In 2012, the GOP platform praised free trade and embraced the TPP. In 2016, Trump calls to “terminate” NAFTA and has spurred a growing skepticism on the TPP among top GOP members.

The RNC platform, according to Forbes, now leans toward Trumpian protectionism over the free trade policies that have dominated Republican discourse since the 1990s: “[…] It appears that Trump has had a sizable influence on the platform, which could be a sign of bigger changes afoot within the party.”

A tangible shift has been seen policy-wise due to the emergence of Trump in election season. But, no matter who wins on November 8th, the GOP is getting ready for a “historic reckoning.”

In a Boston Globe article aptly titled, “GOP braces for turmoil after Election Day,” it explains that the Republican camp is within the throws of “an existential crisis that has left half of America’s political establishment in desperate need of new leaders, a new message, and even a common orthodoxy.”

In interviews with party insiders, the article only drove its point home further:

“It’s like Humpty Dumpty fell and broke, then a giant lawn mower ran over it, acid was thrown on the pieces — and a bunch of racist idiots ran off with an arm and a leg,” said Republican consultant, John Weaver, in an interview with the Globe. “How do you put it back together? I don’t know.”

The article also named immigration reform as one of the key issues that GOP leaders must consider to “attract young people, and a more diverse population.” Trump’s rhetoric, especially on immigration issue, has pushed many young people and minorities, populations that already lean left, to the Democrats – almost guaranteeing a tremendous decrease in future Republican power.

The Atlantic took a different tone on the fracturing the the future of the GOP, citing class as the party’s primary fissure, rather than differences in diversity and age. In “The Great Republican Revolt,” senior editor David Frum says this has started “an internal class war,” and outlines four possible choices the party can take in this proverbial “fork in the road.”

Something has changed in American politics since the Great Recession. The old slogans ring hollow. The insurgent candidates are less absurd, the orthodox candidates more vulnerable. […] The puzzle for the monied leaders of the Republican Party is: What now? And what next after that?”

The Washington Post expands on Frum’s idea of class, saying that any Republican politician who compromises or agrees with any Democrats on any issues will be shunned by the new Trump wing of “populists and extremists,” leading to further gridlock if the Democrats do not win Congress.

What remains of the 162-year-old Grand Ole Party, according to The Wall Street Journal, is now three-headed: establishment conservatives, who are the more moderate wing of the GOP; small-town, small-government conservatives, who believe that government is the main obstacle to growth; and populist conservatives, who are mostly working-class whites and Trump supporters.

Policy changes, priority shifts, and demographic differences have affected, and will further affect, a political party in-flux, due to the rise of such a polarizing candidate. But the results of election day will have great influence on the GOP transformation that’s waiting in the wings.

The resurgence of Hillary Clinton’s email scandal has caused a great tightening of the race in recent polls. But many outlets have reported that Trump still faces an “uphill” battle, and that many Republicans still think Trump will lose the election.

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