When all the votes are counted, they may end up defining the president’s defeat. But if there is one thing that was clear in this election, it is that its base is still alive and the Republican Party will have to adapt to that reality.
When all the votes are counted, they may end up defining the defeat of Donald Trump. But if there is something that was clear in this election, it is that, beyond the fact that its leader leaves the White House, “Trumpism” is still alive and that the Republican Party will have to see how it adapts to this new reality.
It was four years of a chaotic presidency, in which officials were thrown in and out of their positions in months, where fights with the press reigned, insults and attacks on rivals, racist and xenophobic messages, lies, corruption scandals, impeachment and a controversial management of the pandemic that it has already caused 233,000 deaths. Democrats believed that with that background, Americans would remove Trump from power in a forceful and sweeping way at the polls.
A quick and clean result would have clarified the direction of the country and sent a signal to the Republican party that its supporters were tired of Trump trying to rethink their future. But, beyond final scrutiny, the president garnered 67 million votes -Four million more than in 2016-, wins in key states and more support than four years ago in Florida and Texas. It also extended its leadership to white, Latino, and even African-American worker groups.
Far from the opposition barrage predicted by the polls, Republicans are heading to retain the majority in the Senate and win more seats in Representatives. Wrapped in the charisma, political incorrectness and economic management of their leader, Trump supporters were more energized than ever and will now seek answers. If the president finally ends up losing, his mark will have remained and the party will have to think about what to do with certain “Trumpist” slogans that do not represent the republican essence such as protectionism, the rejection of multilateralism and the entry of immigrants, the trade war and the loss global leadership.
Grant Reeher, Professor of Political Science at Syracuse University, pointed to Clarion that “the republicans they’ll have to figure out what they’re going to do with Trump and how they will position him in American and party history. But I think there is a potentially bright future for the party without him. If the party returns with a more stable, “more presidential” candidate, in 2024 it could position itself very well, especially if the economy improves ”.
John Zaller, Professor of American Politics at the University of California, told Clarion that “as soon as he ceases to be president, Trump will lose the Party organization that was behind him. Then it will be just Trump and his followers. Thanks to Twitter and other modern forms of communication, he will still be able to communicate with his supporters, and this will give him some political importance. Whether he will leverage Republican officials in Washington is another question. It may give you something, as Republican officials may fear your opposition in party primaries. But without the power of the presidency behind him, Trump’s influence on his party will likely be much less than it has been so far. “
It will be hard to see Trump, who loves to be center stage, ostracized if he has to leave the White House. Surely he will not act like other defeated presidents after a first term, like Jimmy Carter or George Bush Sr., who were secluded in their states. Rather, you can imagine him furiously tweeting against any measure by Biden, appearing on every television show, and perhaps even starring in a reality show from which he shoots his darts.
His most fervent supporters promise him a bright future. Commentator Laura Ingraham said that “Trump is today and will be the leader of the Republican Party, until someone has the same energy and charisma that he generates.” Others were more adventurous. “This is just a second act,” said Fox News panelist Greg Gutfeld. “2024 is the third act,” he predicted, suggesting that Trump could run for a third term in 4 years, when he is 78. There is too much time left by then.