The Republican Party Has Been Split in Two

Source: Politico, May 8, 2016

It was as shocking as it was predictable after a year of slow-motion build-up – the dramatic splitting apart of the Grand Old Party in the 72 hours after Donald Trump became its presumptive nominee.

When asked Friday if the organization he now leads is officially Trump’s party, Republican National Committee Chairman Reince Priebus responded with pithy double-speak befitting this dystopian moment in our politics. “It’s the party’s party,” Priebus said.

Whatever party Priebus was speaking of is currently in tatters.

There is no more denying that Trump will be the Republican Party’s presidential nominee. But there is still plenty of denial when it comes to accepting the more fundamental issue at hand: that the fractious coalition of conservatives that we used to know as the Republican Party is, after a decade of fraying ties between the Washington-based establishment and its base, is now comprised of two separate coalitions.

There are those mainstream conservatives still tethered to the party’s ideological history of limited government, free trade and a hawkish foreign policy; and there is the conservative base that is increasingly resentful of elites of all stripes, voters unmoored from ideology and drawn to Trump’s charisma, fearlessness and a populist, angry brand of neo-nationalism.


4 responses to “The Republican Party Has Been Split in Two

  1. Was the rise of the Tea Party not evidence that the split predated the rise of Trump?

    • Yes, it does. But Trump’s split with Paul Ryan suggests his present distance from the Tea Party. To quote from Google: “…Ryan supports the Tea Party’s belief in ‘individual rights, distrust of big government and an allegorical embrace of the Founding Fathers’”.

  2. Henry Lotin

    Republican Party struggled to accommodate Tea Party. Trump drove both Tea Party and lower educated group of Reagan Democrats away from Party establishment positions (incl. Planned Parenthood, trade, taxes and now apparently the minimum wage). These are not groups with conducive policies or culture, but Trump has made the schism tangible. There are those that believe that this is what Trump and golf partner Bill Clinton had in mind in his candidacy all along.

  3. mike holliday

    I suspect the key phrase is `the conservative base that is increasingly resentful of elites of all stripes.’
    It’s not just America and It’s not just conservatives. I’m no expert, but even a cursory following of the news suggests similar sentiments are rife in many countries including Britain, Greece, Spain and Australia.
    `Professional’ politicians set up cosy and expensive clubs to debate long established and often outmoded policies and the people have responded by moving away from political structures that are increasingly remote and irrelavent.
    Donald Trump – com’n down.