On January 20, 2017, Donald Trump will be sworn in as the 45th president of the United States. During this campaign, there have been plenty of hurt feelings and bitter resentment over Trump being the Republican nominee. Trump not only had to defeat the Democratic party, but he also had to beat the established ways of the Republican Party.
Donald Trump, like Ronald Reagan, won the presidency by expanding the Republican base. Trump reached out to the blue collar workers who had faithfully voted for the Democrats since Reagan.
We have heard many claims that the Republican Party is dead. However, with Donald Trump as president, these prognostications appear to be premature.
The last time this country saw the death of a major party was in 1860. This was the last year that the Whigs ran a candidate at the top of the ticket. However, the Whigs had not won a race for the Presidency since they nominated Major General Zachary Taylor in 1848.
It is highly doubtful that the Republican party will die while they hold the White House, U.S. Senate, the House of Representatives, majority of state Governors, and majority state legislatures. The reason for this is simple. In order to start a new party, one needs donors, elected officials, and a whole lot of voters. It is not enough to just have a lot of people who want to start a new party. Take a look at the Constitution Party and its failure to gain much traction over the last 25 years.
Remember, in order to get your message out, there needs to be a massive organization behind the movement. It takes money to pay staff, elect officials, and get the message out regarding the party’s positions. Even if there were a large number of people who desire to start a new party, the donors want to be with the power. While the Republicans hold power, very few Republican donors will be willing to fund the infrastructure needed to properly form, organize, and promote a new national party. Donors are not willing to challenge the party if it means they lose their seat at the table.
Furthermore, in order to start a new party, there is a need for a national leadership team. Abraham Lincoln was not the first Republican elected into office. The Republican Party was started six years before Abraham Lincoln was elected. By the time Lincoln became president, Republicans held seats in Congress, governor’s mansions, and plenty of state legislative offices.
In 2016, there are not very many politicians who are brave enough to throw their name behind a new party. Just look at June 2016 after it became clear that Donald Trump was going to be the Republican nominee. There was a movement to recruit a Republican to run as a third party. No one was willing to step up, what makes you think that they will now step up since Trump has won?
In 1848, the political issue of the day that resulted in the Whig party destructions and the rise of the Republican party was the issue of slavery. The Whig base felt betrayed in that their elected officials were not doing enough to end the slave trade. As the people’s frustration grew, a movement began which led to a new party being created. Seated elected officials changed parties because the new party represented their beliefs better and they had nothing to lose because they were already in the minority.
To kill the Republican Party, Donald Trump has to do something so offensive that several elected leaders leave the party to start a new national party. The issue that appears most likely to destroy Trump would be the U.S. Supreme Court. By violating his campaign promises and selecting a judge not on his promised list it could very easily result in a mass exodus of conservatives who held their noses and voted for Trump.
I fully anticipate within the first couple of days of Donald Trump’s administration that he will send to the Senate his nomination. Should Trump remain true to his campaign promises, the prognosticators will be deemed premature. However, should Trump break his campaign promises and nominate a moderate to the Supreme Court, it is my prediction that it will not be too long before you start seeing some elected officials change their party affiliation to Independent so that they can be in a better position to challenge the Trump Administration.
While the selection of a judge not on the Trump list does not mean that the Republican Party is dead, it is probably a very good indicator that the Republican Party has been placed on life support. As long as Trump governs conservatively, he will keep the Republican party stable, but every poor decision will drive the party closer to its demise.