Many conservatives and even libertarians had been telling themselves that Donald Trump’s unprincipled and self-serving populism wouldn’t doom the GOP’s alleged commitment to limited government, free market and competition. But within six short weeks after assuming office, Trump has proven them decisively wrong. He has taken the party’s core issues, and beaten them like a piñata so that they have no recognizable form any more.
Those who doubt that should look at my column at The Week where I point out just five areas on which Trump has forced the GOP to either reverse itself or become so quiet as to effectively abandon them. These include not just immigration and trade but also government spending, entitlement reform and foreign policy. “Sure, there is some overlap between Trump’s and the GOP’s pet issues, such as tax cuts, regulatory reform, and ObamaCare repeal,” I note. “But these are no longer embedded in any high-minded fidelity to limited government — just a vulgar populism.”
But what I don’t get into in the column is that Trump has accomplished all this even before he formally gets started on his pledge to transform the GOP — that happens to have spent the last two decades passing Right to Work laws in states to destroy labor unions — into a Worker’s Party, a la the neo-reactionary parties in Europe. Once he gets going on that, in addition to embracing restrictionisim and protectionism, the GOP will also start hailing minimum wage laws, beating up on companies that pay their workers less than the Czar wants, more social insurance programs for American workers, unemployment benefits etc.
So anyone who wants to write requiems to the GOP, might as well begin now.
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