By now, the gap between the conservative grassroots and the Republican elite has been well illustrated. Controversial businessman Donald Trump ran away with the primary and got more votes than anyone else in primary history, yet is more widely hated in the political mainstream than any other Republican nominee in recent history. Neoconservatives and moderates could stomach former President George W. Bush and his number two in command Dick Cheney, as well as Senator John McCain and Mitt Romney.
But Donald Trump? Unthinkable.
Mainstream Republicans have long portrayed this year as the apocalypse, stating the Republican Party is in some rough shape by embracing Donald Trump. Romney, as well as Bush’s brother Jeb, have fled the party seeking alternatives. George W. Bush even stated he fears he’ll be the last Republican president. Iraq War architect Paul Wolfowitz is even leaning towards Democratic nominee Hillary Clinton. Many Republicans throughout the ranks and among the grassroots have also fled in fear of the new Trump era.
But has Trump ruined the Republican Party as we know it? Before answering this question, it’s important to assess what the Party has been for some time.
While Bush himself ran as a reasonably non-interventionist candidate in 1999 and 2000 to counter former President Bill Clinton’s Vice President Al Gore, the September 11th terrorist attacks changed everything. Since this point, the message has been constant and neverending war. We marched into Afghanistan, jumped into Iraq, and have had drone operations elsewhere in the Middle East. All of these conflicts have been undeclared and thus unconstitutional.
Is this what the Republican Party wants? Is the Republican Party a better place advocating for a constant state of war and violating the Constitution?
One can agree that the transformation of the Republican Party has potential to be positive without actually supporting Trump. One can be concerned with Trump while agreeing that cleansing them of the neoconservative elite is a positive development.
Neoconservatism is an enormous problem and it crosses party lines. We’re now seeing the rise of the neocons in the Democratic Party, completed by the ascension of Hillary Clinton. Clinton opposes whistleblowers like Edward Snowden, has a history of favoring war, supports the surveillance state, and feeds Russian paranoia.
The Republicans like Wolfowitz are also running to her. What does that say about Clinton? What does that also say about the Republican Party and what it’s been for the last decade and a half?
Donald Trump’s libertarian credentials are not strong, as he’s advocated for numerous troubling positions. But even on a bad day, is Trump worse than George W. Bush pushing to expand the police state and driving us into war? Is Trump worse than Dick Cheney openly attacking due process? Is Trump worse than Senator John McCain wanting to encourage more war? Is Trump worse than Mitt Romney’s weak and thin-skinned approach to tackling an opponent?
Trump may not be the ideal liberty candidate, but is it bad that he’s driving all of the warmongering big government neoconservatives from the Republican Party?