In his quest to convince the Republican Party establishment and base of his viability as a general election candidate, Donald Trump has continually flaunted his ability to bring disaffected Democratic voters into his new, “fundamentally changed” Republican Party. He isn’t wrong. Trump has converted lifelong Democrats to his Republican campaign in an unprecedented fashion. As many as 20% of Democratic voters have pledged to support a Trump candidacy, and he has consistently fared best in states with open primaries. But I feel as if there is a question that both Trump and many of his supposedly conservative voters have failed to answer:
Since when has the mission of the Republican Party been to accommodate Democrats?
If you are looking for a reason that this mass migration of Democratic voters to Trump’s side was made possible, you need look no further then this current crop of Democratic candidates, who have taken the party’s long-standing use of divisive identity politics and turned them into overdrive. Bernie Sanders has proclaimed that white people cannot understand what it’s like to live in poverty and yielded the microphone to Black Lives Matter activists at his own speaking engagement, who admonished the crowd of gathered faithful for being racist due to their whiteness. Hillary Clinton, likable and popular stateswoman she is, has needed to double down on the Sandinista sympathizer’s pandering in order to keep pace with the party’s increasingly far left base. She has waxed self-loathingly over her own white privilege and declared that old Bernie’s constant harping on Wall Street and big banks is misguided since, after all, it will not end racism, sexism, homophobia, and anti-immigrant fervor (all of which she, apparently, is capable of ending.) And of course, both have declared their support for open borders and amnesty, insisting that the only immigration problem we face is that of the prejudice of white Americans who refuse to accommodate their new neighbors.
And as the left engages in this arms race of empathy for downtrodden minorities, the white, working class males of the Democratic Party increasingly find themselves alienated.
Enter Donald Trump and his new Republican platform. You see, it’s not the Democratic voters that will be changing for their new party, but the party that will be (in Trump’s own words) “fundamentally changing” for them. The party of stiff principles gives way to an aspiring autocrat with a bag full of promises.
Gone are the days of simply pushing for tighter border security and increased enforcement of standing immigration laws, replaced by the promise of a “big, beautiful wall.” One you can touch and feel. One that seems to arbitrarily increase in size ten feet at a time with each spoken slight against Trump, like a parent adding extra time to a child’s timeout. One that will improve the plight of “you” by getting rid of “them.”
Gone are the days of prosperity through non-intervention in the private sector, replaced by promises of employment for all through crippling free trade, strong-arming those damn Chinese, and holding American companies hostage that attempt to dodge the proclamations of the new emperor. Fixing health care through the free market is also now an antiquated idea, replaced by the markedly Democratic policy of government-funded health care for all.
Gone are the days of principle and conviction, replaced by a man who was for abortion, gun control, and even illegal immigration before he became adamantly against them, conveniently just around the time he began vying for the Republican nomination for president.
Indeed, the story of the dynamic between the Republican and Democratic parties has long been one of principle against promise. With Trump, that era comes to an end, supplanted by an entirely new party with an entirely new base. Lifelong Democrats in constant pursuit of the candidate whose promises are most tantalizing and abundant find a home in this new Republican Party, led by a charismatic icon who repeatedly reminds them of his fatherly “love” for them.
And the principled conservative is left out in the cold.