The Republican party is now the Trump party
By Daniel J. McLaughlin
In 2016, the Republican party made a Faustian pact with Donald Trump. There would be a Republican in the White House, and that Republican would be the uncouth and brash businessman, who made his name on reality television.
After eight years of Barack Obama, the GOP were desperate for a win. They made the bargain and, against all odds, Trump won the race for the White House. But is it a deal that they come to regret?
Their party would control the Senate, the House of Representatives, and the White House. But what they did not consider is how Trump would change the GOP. The Republicans are not the party with one of their own in the Oval Office - instead, they became the party of Trump. They did not control him, he controls them.
According to the BBC, there is one Trump statistic that explains everything - the support he has among members of his own party. The Republican party is Donald Trump's party after a recent poll showed near record levels of backing from GOP voters. At the 500-day mark of his presidency, he has 87 per cent of support from Republicans, second only to George W. Bush's 96 per cent, which came nine months after the 9/11 attacks.
"In the past," the BBC explains, "an 80 per cent mark at this point would be of little note. Presidential support within their own ranks can ebb and flow, but they are the de facto leaders of their party and, particularly early in their first term, command allegiance and set the course for politics and policy."
But the unprecedented president is, of course, different. Not only is he receiving a huge amount of support from the rank and file Republicans, he is changing what the GOP stands for. Trump is setting the agenda on trade. Previously, general wisdom within the party was that free trade is a good thing, with global capitalism and economic competition being beneficial for the US. Trump, meanwhile, sees trade as a zero-sum contest, viewing free trade deals as bad deals and competition with scepticism. Trump's stance would have once been heresy in the Republican party, but the party is "largely marching in step".
Rolling Stone asks when a Republican, who is staying in the game, will speak out against the president? Figures like Bob Corker, Trey Gowdy and even Paul Ryan have been the most vocal Republicans, with a few making digs against his conspiracies. It may appear that the GOP is beginning to form pro- and anti-Trump factions, but the most vocal Republicans tend to be the ones who will not be in politics a year from now.
"The question is whether they'll have been able to build enough of a foundation on which others can voice their opposition to Trump's irresponsible decisions, or whether the party will simply consolidate under Trump's wing as soon as the dissenters are out of office," they write.
This week has seen more Republicans break with Trump than usual. The Republican party may be morphing into the party of Trump, and on the whole Republicans in Congress are still deferential to the president, but there are more compelled to speak out against him, the Washington Post reports. The criticism is coming from both the usual corners of GOP attacks, and some from people who usually defend Trump. They have been breaking from Trump on trade, on immigration, and on Russia.
The Post argues: "It suggests that, after a year and a half of mostly keeping their lips zipped, Republicans are becoming more willing to criticise the president when they disagree with him. What's really fascinating is that this dynamic is changing five months before midterm elections, where Republicans would rather be presenting unity to keep control of Congress."
Donald Trump is painting the Republican party in his own image, after the GOP wanted to achieve the opposite. He has the backing of most Republican voters, but there is a growing minority willing to speak out against the president - and the Trump party.