Trump and the GOP (Part 2 of a series)

The Presidency of Donald Trump has transformed the landscape of the Republican Party over the last six years. That is really quite remarkable for a person who just changed his party affiliation in 2009 and was a large donor to as prominent of a Democrat as Hillary Clinton’s US Senate campaign in 2000.

This election cycle, Trump has spent his time on the campaign trail almost exclusively campaigning against Republican incumbents, and for their Republican primary opponents. In doing so, he is turning on its head Ronald Reagan’s “11th Commandment”: thou shalt not publicly criticize another Republican.

A national figure rarely campaigns at the state level, but Trump personally traveled to and campaigned against the Republican Speakers of the State Houses in Arizona and Wisconsin because he did not think they worked hard enough to overturn the election results in their states, both of which Trump lost.

Trump is working hard to purge all Republicans that he does not think are loyal to him personally. There are a number of examples, but the most recent one was for Alaska’s primary where Trump endorsed Mike Dunleavy. However, that came with a price: Dunleavy had to promise NOT to endorse Alaska’s long time incumbent Republican US Senator, Lisa Murkowski, who had crossed Trump and thus gained his ire.

Trump announced that he will be traveling to PA on Labor Day weekend to campaign for the “entire Pennsylvania Trump ticket.” Note, he did not say ‘the Republican ticket’ but said the ‘Trump ticket’.

Not long ago, both major parties said they wanted to be a ‘big tent’, where they both had a general set of beliefs but welcomed people who may disagree on some things at the detail level. That is not the case now.

The bottom line is that Trump wants the Republican Party to be the Trump Party and is willing to destroy it to do so. Don’t believe it? Trump’s actions in Georgia in Jan. 2021, a state that had no Democrats who held statewide office, caused both incumbent US Senators there to lose and thus to give control of the US Senate to Democrats. A similar thing looks to potentially be in store in this November’s election, where Democrats are poised to do much better than predicted just months ago and much better than you would expect, given that inflation is the highest in 40 years, President Biden’s very poor approval ratings and other dissatisfaction with the direction of the country, according to polls.

Thinking Man predicted after the election in 2016 that Trump would destroy the Republican Party. During his time in office, Republicans went from majorities both in the US House and Senate, to Democrats having majorities in both the House and Senate. This election, Democrats seemed to be poised to do much better than historically has been the case for the Party controlling the presidency during mid-term elections. But Trump would rather be a big fish in a small pond, no matter what it costs, and the Democratic Party can be thankful for that. The surprising thing is how many Republicans seem ok with that, too.

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