Charles Krauthammer, in a speech to the Buckley Program at Yale on September 28th, 2015, said “The summer of Trump ended, meteorologically speaking, last Monday, and I think we can already see that the decline has begun.” Evidently, the storm has lasted longer than expected. Krauthammer misunderstood that Trump represented something much more than a seasonal fling. He demonstrated that the partisan divide is due for a shakeup. Donald Trump’s primary opponents lambasted him on that grounds that he was not a “true conservative.” The electorate responded resoundingly: “We don’t care!” The Republican base favored Trump’s nationalist message over the Buckleyan conservatives’. Meanwhile, the globalist elite consolidated around the Democratic Party’s nominee. Fears that the 2016 election will destroy the American two party system are overblown; however, the major ideological split that defines the parties is changing. The 2016 election will redivide the nation between liberal multiculturalists and conservative nationalists.
2016 has precedent. Before the conservatives were the ones getting ousted, they once conducted their own takeover of the GOP. In 1964, the Republicans begrudgingly handed over the nomination to conservative champion Barry Goldwater. The attacks Lyndon Johnson used against Goldwater in the general were remarkably similar to what Hillary is using against Trump now. The “Confessions of a Republican” ad showed a Republican who had voted for Nixon and Eisenhower but who expressed some doubt about Goldwater: “When the Ku Klux Klan, all of these weird groups, come out in favor of my party, either they’re not Republicans or I’m not.” The famous attack ad, “Daisy,” targeted voters’ reluctance to put Goldwater’s finger on the nuclear button. Goldwater was portrayed as rash – someone without the right temperament, someone who lacked proper judgement. When the nominee of a party targets the old guard, he opens himself up to these lines of attack because in order to disrupt the status quo, he has to be combative. Someone who fights the safety, security, and predictability of the establishment is necessarily recalcitrant and rash. Trump has all of the hallmarks of a change agent.
So what exactly is taking over the GOP this time? Trump has courted voters who are upset with the new left in America, full of PC culture and people who would rather apologize for America than defend it. Trump support is definitively nationalist. Today’s progressives occupy themselves with radical racial equality in the form of the Black Lives Matter movement and the corruption of American history on college campuses. The Republican establishment too easily kowtowed to liberals’ outrage culture – too scared to be controversial, too sensitive to being seen as racist or xenophobic. While Rubio and Cruz yelled at each other in Spanish on the debate stage, Trump just smiled. Safe spaces exemplify what modern progressives hope to achieve: a sanitized world. For that same reason, activists like Milo Yiannopoulos and Ben Shapiro, who fight for the right to be “mischievous” in their speech, have become incredibly popular. A vote for Donald Trump is a vote against political correctness. Supporters also want, as Mr. Trump puts it, “America first.” Buckleyan conservatives were open to bringing in skilled migrants and trading with other countries, but the new wave in the Republican party is extraordinarily tough on immigration and trade. The new Republican voter is working class and does not want to see his/her job taken away by illegal immigrants or foreign countries (Trump leads with high school graduates and under as of October 2016 while Romney lost that demographic in 2012). The Republican establishment failed to concern itself with what concerned voters, so it lost, and Trump won. The major ideological divide in America is between conservative nationalism and liberal globalism, and the parties are changing to reflect that shift.
Whether Trump wins or loses is inconsequential. He has merely exploited sentiments among the American people that have already taken root. Every so often in politics, it becomes necessary for a figure to whip the ruling class into line with the populous at large. Trump has undertaken the process of redefining the partisan divide. He has brought the cause of the masses to the insiders’ front doorstep.