The Tale of Two Republican Parties
The loss of Ed Gillespie in Virginia Tuesday night devastated conservatives. This race was seen as the litmus test for the current Republican agenda. Here lies the problem: there are two Republican parties.
On one hand, you have the “establishment” Republicans. These Republicans love free trade and looking out for the interests of internationalists and the extremely wealthy. They view the American people as consumers who value cheap products above all else. They are not concerned with stable jobs, and would willingly sell out the American people to manufacture in cheaper countries or import cheaper workers.
One the other hand, you have the working-class Republicans. These Republicans want to have stable jobs, and are willing to sacrifice cheaper imported goods in order to have manufacturing jobs in America worked by American people. They are also culturally conscious and are dubious of the merits of immigration. They believe immigrants currently residing in the United States should assimilate into our unique American culture before we import even more immigrants.
The question is: which group did Ed Gillespie belong to? Let’s let President Trump answer that question.
Trump tweeted: “Ed Gillespie worked hard but did not embrace me or what I stand for. Don’t forget, Republicans won 4 out of 4 House seats, and with the economy doing record numbers, we will continue to win, even bigger than before!”
Trump is right. Gillespie did not embrace Trump or what he stood for, and the Republican Party is reaping the consequences of their disunity.
Gillespie tried to be Trump-like without embracing Trump. That was a mistake and it is clear that Gillespie had a fundamental misunderstanding of Trump and his supporters. Gillespie was essentially an establishment Republican attempting to tap into the same energy as Trump, but he completely missed the mark.
For example, Gillespie defended the Confederate monuments, which is a Trump-like thing to do, but he did not defend them for the same reason Trump and his supporters do. Gillespie, being the establishment Republican that he is, addressed the monuments only in terms of money. One of his campaign advertisements claimed that removing the statues would be a waste of taxpayer money. This sort of reasoning seems to imply that it would be okay to remove the statues if it were not costly to do so. That completely misses the mark. Trump and Trump supporters are not concerned with the cost of removing the statues; they are concerned with history and heritage.
As Trump had tweeted before: “Sad to see the history and culture of our great country being ripped apart with the removal of our beautiful statues and monuments. You can’t change history, but you can learn from it. Robert E Lee, Stonewall Jackson – who’s next, Washington, Jefferson? So foolish!”
The ideal campaign of Gillespie would have been one in which he worked closely with Trump. However, there is admittedly only so much Gillespie could have done in this current political environment. Until the Republican Party is in total unity, all Republican candidates will suffer regardless of which type of Republican they present themselves as.
Despite the divide in the Republican Party, most people are considering the achievements and work of Trump when they go into the voting booth. This means that the more popular Trump is, the better the Republican Party will do. The logical conclusion is that the Republican Party should do whatever it takes to ensure Trump is popular.
The first step for Republicans to ensure Trump becomes and remains popular is to abandon a strict commitment to ideological principles. This may be baffling to some conservatives who are very ideological, but it is necessary. Republicans must work with each other and compromise in order to pass legislation, especially considering Democrats are dedicated to opposing everything Trump sets out to do. One cannot simply expect a bill to be entirely to one’s liking, and one should know that their colleagues will have at least slightly different opinions on every piece of legislation. Compromise is important. A Republican Party that works together, passes legislation, and ceases infighting will be successful.
A similar step for Republicans is to stop attacking or contradicting Trump. Naturally, some voters will follow their Senators and Representatives in opposition to Trump. As a result, the popularity of Trump will decline. This does nothing but weakens the public perception of Trump and bolsters the perception of the Democratic Party. If all Republicans appear to be in support of Trump, then the public perception of Trump will increase. This is important because most voters enter the voting booth with their perception of Trump in mind.
It is time for the two Republican parties to become one. A unified Republican Party is the only way to preserve seats in the 2018 elections.