After a tumultuous three weeks where the biggest flaw in Donald Trump’s campaign was Donald Trump himself, Trump remains in the presidential race…barely. With the election less than 80 days away, it’s time to step back and take a good hard look at the big picture of Trumpism—more specifically, just how much Trump’s lasting legacy will permanently damage the GOP.
Today, the GOP is facing an in-house divide. Trump was a controversial candidate with no political background, a big mouth (and oddly small hands) and a reputation for crucifying those who opposed him, including prominent members of his own party. As he barreled over other Republican candidates, he managed to demean and slander them in the eyes of not only 2016 election, but the next election where he presumably will not be running because America hopefully will get smarter. He earned a few GOP supporters but lost just as many, including big name Republican leaders such as former Presidents Bush and former presidential candidates such as Mitt Romney, whose strength was also big business and spending cuts.
But the GOP is facing a platform dilemma. Trump barely made it into the Republican category of the election—in fact, there was controversy when people thought he publicly stated years ago that if he were to run, he’d run as Republican because “they were the dumbest group of voters in the country.” It was later debunked, but the meme is still floating around to this day, solidifying the point that Trump’s views are questionably conservative. Recently, Trump showed an unexpected left lean when he revealed his immigration plan, which was surprisingly similar to President Obama’s current plan and when he “accidentally” stated that he support local attempts to ban fracking.
Finally, Trump is kicking aside the traditional appeal of the Republican party with vigor. Republican candidates are notoriously well-spoken, white-collar, business buffs with the standard wife and kids, and Ivy League degree. Trump’s family matters are far from the typical conservative, his college degree has been questioned, being called well-spoken is a far off fantasy and now his business accolades are being called into question after he’s made suspicious campaign finance decisions.
On Election Day, if we assume that Trump remains eight points (or more) behind Hillary Clinton, the Donald will lose. Typically, candidates give a concession speech, thanking their supporters and bowing out gracefully.
It’s hard to picture Trump doing anything gracefully, let alone admitting defeat. Already, he is laying the groundwork for a recount if he doesn’t win. He claims that if he doesn’t win Pennsylvania’s electoral votes, the election is rigged. The usual blustering comments of Trump could have long-term effects if voters begin to question the voting system, if their vote counted, and blaming Clinton, who admittedly does not have a good track record in the criminal system right now.
And Inauguration Day? Who doesn’t see Trump causing a stir on the day that Clinton is to be elected in Washington, DC, especially after the violent uproar at the RNC calling for Clinton’s head on a platter? Trump has caused an incitement to violence that will not be silenced on an Election Day that does not favor Trump.
Even in the event that Trump wins—which is looking more like a fantasy after he self-destructed his campaign over the past three weeks, escalating a feud with the Khan family, firing Republican strategist Manafort who could have been the one to tame the campaign, his second amendment comment that stirred up potential criminal charges and more—Trump could cause lasting damage to our political system, damage that the GOP will have to walk back for years to come.
While Trump may not win the White House, Trump supporters in the House and Senate may. With his absence, they will either brush off the whole incident as merely them playing their part to display party unity and hope that everyone forgets or even try to enact some of the policies that Trump has suggested. In that scenario, the GOP will spend years attempting to form some kind of compromise with Trumpeters or merely trying to phase them out and direct the party to their conservative standards.
The most likely scenario involves a staunchly conservative candidate in the 2020 election as the GOP attempts to divert back to their roots and brush aside the memory of Donald Trump as presidential candidate. At the end of the day, Donald Trump will be remembered — as GOP tries to recover from the 2016 destruction he’s caused for the party.
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