The last 365 days have been a hell of a ride for the GOP.
In short, the GOP propped up candidates that represented the status quo Republican; in bed with big business, big banks, hawk interventionism, while carrying a Bible, sharing stories of how he came from nothing to something, and a Reagan reference for good measure. This was easily sold for decades, and the voters certainly bought it, until now.
In contrast there is Trump, the right populist, the one who rebelled against the establishment, who redevoted the right to caring about the working and middle class, that declared nationalism above globalism. In short, he answered the pleas of many who were sick of being screwed over by the Republican establishment. Who were ignored in favor of big business, big bank, and interventionist policies. Time and time again the people voted, desiring a right wing candidate that put their needs first, that put the American citizen first and foremost, and received the opposite or nothing in return. This was the death of the old GOP. This is why Trump won the nomination easily. He brought populism to the table and declared that every day American citizen mattered far more than interventionist schemes and pandering to Wall Street.
Trump has never been an end, he has only been a means, and an incredibly rough means at that. Those who support Trump acknowledge him as merely the means. A vehicle for a message, and at best the beginning of political development. Many have doubted he will win the Presidential election, and indeed he may not, but it is foolish to think the war stops there. No, things have only begun.
What we have seen is the GOP burned to the ground. The establishment placed stooges, puppets, those easily controlled, against Trump in an attempt to maintain the GOP status quo. The voters desired differently, and they made their voice heard. Once Trump was nominated the #NeverTrump movement formed, a last ditch effort for establishment Republicans to say no and support another candidate. It too failed, voters did not care, and it made these Republicans look like little more than cold wet fish. Once again another strike occurs, this time regarding the audio recording of Trump, which while inexcusable gave official Republicans yet another opportunity to riscind themselves in a #NeverTrump fashion, which they of course took. Interestingly enough, while nationally the polls do not favor him, his voterbase has stayed true, blatantly ignoring the position taking of establishment Republicans that would sooner see him dead than in any office. There is speculation, likely unfounded, that the GOP themselves are the ones who leaked the audio recording. While I find it doubtful without solid evidence, sadly within this context it would not at all be surprising. It is also not surprising many establishment Republicans have flocked to Clinton, with her hawk policies and Wall Street bedding.
I say all this to ask the question, if and when Trump passes, will the GOP return to its previous ‘big bank/big business/intervention’ priorities and again continue to neglect the every day American citizen? Like a rubber band returning to its original form after being stretched, will it return to the very positions and status quo which got the ‘house burned down’ by its own voters to begin with? A few months ago I would have hesitated and said, ‘perhaps not, maybe they will learn, maybe they will put forth every day citizens as first priority and assimilate populist values into the whole.’ I was naive and optimistic to say this, because truthfully I think they will do just as the rubber band does, and snap back to its former shape. Not a single lesson will be learned. They will trot out the Romneys and the Bushes, as if nothing ever happened. If Clinton does win, we will see this tenfold. Despite the house being burned downed, they will carry on as usual, returning to their previous line of business as if this never happened. As if their whole voter base throwing their puppet candidates back at them and voted for the one that refused to be coaxed into toeing the line was but merely a bad dream. They will live in a scorched house, like burnt matchsticks, and check their stock index as if it never happened.
But will this be the final say…that is the hook of the matter. If Trump loses, time passes, will the voters simply forget and be okay returning to the previous neglectful and oblivious GOP of yesterday? I do not think they will, or at least the majority of them will not. While a minority, who were luke warm as always, will be happy in their timid and safe Jeb-like manner, just naive and smug enough to believe ‘the establishment knows best’. There will always be another minority, which already exist like burning ember, that will persist with the war even if having lost the battle. Not being content with returning to the previous GOP, the milquetoast GOP, the GOP that looks down their nose at the people and continues idolizing the status quo. They will not be content with this. It is not simply nor only the ‘Alt Right’, a makeshift label at best, it is a sentiment that has spread since the beginning of all this. That burning ember is indeed a sentiment, and one that will continue to grow as it has, whether Trump wins or loses the national election.
Only time will tell if the Republicans of two years ago will be the same kind of Republicans we see tomorrow or next year. It is a vital question of if the Overton Window has been shifted, if populism will continue to be a major component, and has Trump opened the way for populist-minded and nationalist politicians to step forth and redefine the Republican Party. It may be a generational thing, as my generation (the youngest voting millennials), has been deeply impacted by these ideas as well as deeply alienated by the regressive left. It may be a decade or two before we see the fruition of this.
Personally I hope to see a very different GOP in the future, one that is more concerned with national identity and struggling American citizens, rather than one that caters to the whims of Wall Street as it plans the next foreign interventionist scheme in the name of pseudo-democracy, while of course, holding a Bible snugly to their chest.