How the GOP Becomes the Party of Trump

If you can’t be with the one you love, love the one you’re with

With Donald Trump's election, the Republican Party it set to become a more nationalist, populist, and nativist party, writes Matt Lewis. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call file photo)

It would be easy to obsess over Donald Trump’s stunning victory and recount the dramatic denouement. There were Russian hacks and WikiLeaks dumps, a huge “Access Hollywood” scandal, and an October Surprise dropped by FBI Director James Comey. But the real story is that a major electoral reordering has taken place in America.

As I type this, Donald Trump has won Pennsylvania, Ohio, and Wisconsin, and Michigan is too close to call. For years, the “working-class” white Americans who resided in these places — the union factory worker being the most familiar avatar — were reliable Democratic voters, going back to Franklin Roosevelt. (Ronald Reagan was able to peel them away, but that happened more than a quarter of a century ago.)

One gets the sense that the partisan map might have been altered for the foreseeable future (mirroring what has happened internationally with Brexit). It’s reasonable to think that Republicans may henceforth flourish in the so-called Rust Belt.

The danger is that this may well coincide with a correlated GOP decline in the Sun Belt states like Arizona and Texas, where warnings about the risks of alienating Hispanics might be a lagging indicator.

If anything, Trump’s victory on Tuesday, coupled with GOP control of the House and Senate, will likely expedite this shift and transform the GOP into the party of Trump, which is to say a more nationalist, populist, and nativist party.

In the long run, doubling down on working-class whites may be demographic suicide. But in the long run, as they say, we’re all dead. Besides, in the short term, how can anyone argue with success?

So don’t expect any more talk of following the advice of that silly Republican autopsy. In the real world, you dance with the girl who brung ya. Or, to paraphrase Donald Rumsfeld, you don’t go to war with the army you want, but instead with the army you have.

If you can’t be with the one you love, love the one you’re with.

Matt K. Lewis is a Senior Contributor at the Daily Caller and author of the book “Too Dumb to Fail.” Follow him on Twitter @mattklewis.

Get breaking news alerts and more from Roll Call on your iPhone or your Android.