The party of Abraham Lincoln, Theodore Roosevelt and Ronald Reagan is now the party of Donald J Trump. With his win in the Indiana primary, Trump’s hostile takeover of the Republican Party is complete. It is the biggest defeat for the Republican establishment in living memory.
There have been other businessmen, media stars and populist challengers who have vied for the top role of America’s political parties, but none, until Trump, has combined all of those characteristics, and won the nomination. Trump only joined the Republican Party in 2012, and over the years donated hundreds of thousands of dollars to Democrats, including his likely opponent, Hillary Clinton.
His victory is a thorough repudiation of the Republican establishment. The elite of the party were very confident at the start of the campaign last year. They were going up against a flawed and unpopular Democrat in Hillary. They bragged about their abundance of A-list talented candidates. Their favoured candidates were going to turn the party around, and appeal to demographic groups like women and Latinos, who the Republicans failed to win in 2012.
Trump and the Republican grassroots voters overturned all that. Trump exposed all of his Republican contenders as empty suits. He adopted almost the opposite of the Republican strategy, when he called Mexicans rapists and drug dealers, promising to round up and deport illegal immigrants, and came out with various misogynist insults.
The Republican establishment proved out of touch and inept. They didn’t take Trump seriously, and even after he had gained a foothold of support, they denied it was happening. The other Republican candidates ignored Trump’s arguments on immigration, and then tried to outdo him, but by then Trump sounded like the more convincing and steadfast proponent. They resorted to a ‘stop Trump’ movement, but the more the voters got a better look at their preferred ‘anyone but Trump’ alternatives, like Ted Cruz and John Kasich, the more they went over to Trump.