In 2015 and again in 2016, I wrote that Donald Trump would destroy the Republican Party. Sadly, that prediction has proven true beyond my wildest fears.
Despite the efforts of some to place the blame for the unprecedented election losses on other factors, no fair-minded person can escape the conclusion that the problem is Trump and that even greater losses lie in the future if we don’t recognize and deal with that fact.
Republicans were obliterated in California, particularly in Orange County, but we were also defeated in traditional Republican suburban strongholds in Atlanta, Houston, Dallas, Salt Lake City, Philadelphia, Chicago, Phoenix, Miami and even Charleston South Carolina. Educated voters, women and young voters in particular rejected Trumpism.
In the aftermath of our defeat, many have written that it is important that the party “not abandon its principles”. But isn’t that exactly what we have done with our embrace of Trump?
When did Republicans become the party of apologists and lackeys for Russia’s Putin and the oligarchs of Saudi Arabia? Why do we embrace traitors such as Julian Assange? When did we decide it was right to insult, in the most juvenile way, our longtime allies and world leaders? When did we decide to tolerate the crowd of clowns, fools and charlatans that Trump has surrounded himself with? Omarosa, Paul Manafort, Carter Page, Stormy Daniels, Michael Cohen, Steve Bannon. Really?
Why do we pretend not to see that the president is an inveterate liar, a hopeless narcissist, and completely ignorant of basic public policy issues?
With the exception of Nikki Haley, no one who has served in this administration has escaped having their reputations diminished and their credibility reduced.
To be fair, Trump has achieved some significant accomplishments. His judicial nominees have been stellar, he has stood up for Israel, and his tax cut and regulation repeal has created trillions in market value for Americans and resulted in millions of new jobs. This alone should cause Democrats to reflect on the economic drag created by the Obama policies.
However, his misguided and reckless tariffs and trade wars have destroyed hundreds of millions in market value, raised prices on everything from everyday products at Wal-Mart to steel used in public works projects and car building. This is one of the largest multi-billion dollar hidden tax increases on the American consumer in history. At the same time, the tariff policy is depressing prices and demand for American agricultural products worldwide. One out of six jobs in Southern California is world trade dependent and these jobs are in jeopardy due to the president’s policies. Former liberal Democrat Peter Navarro, his tariff advisor, ranks as one of the worst presidential advisors in recent memory.
Those so called “Evangelical Leaders” who have ignored the hypocrisy of Trump’s moral failures have seen their credibility and reputations diminished by their embrace of Trump and have triggered a reaction by millions of younger Evangelicals who are rejecting the historic connection to the Republican Party by Evangelical voters. This development will have long term ramifications for our party.
Immigration and demographic change have been part of America since the beginning. As Republicans, we must do a better job of being inclusive to all new citizens. We need a coherent immigration policy and we need secure borders. Presidents Reagan and Bush were constructive on this issue, but Trump has become an obstacle to a solution, not part of one.
The next two years will be marked by ongoing investigations into Ivanka’s e mails, violation of the emoluments clause, perjury and obstruction of justice. Ironically, I don’t believe the Trump campaign was competent enough to collude with the Russians. These investigations will tear our nation apart and the people will demand justice.
I remember the last big Republican blow out in 1974 when Republicans were too slow to repudiate President Nixon and the corruption surrounding his administration. Our candidates paid the price then as well.
Inevitably, the Democrats will overplay their hand. Their party is now dominated by ascendant and economically incoherent socialists like Bernie Sanders, Elizabeth Warren and Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, and racial grievance based political charlatans like Al Sharpton and Maxine Waters. Apparently one of the first policy initiatives of the new Congress will be the repeal of Columbus Day.
Now more than ever, the American people need an alternative to these polices. But only a Republican Party free of the Trump mess can provide it.
Keith Curry, former Mayor of Newport Beach and former Director of the Concordia Center for Public Policy. He has been a Republican activist for more than fifty years. The opinions are his own.
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