President Donald Trump may be on his way out of the White House, but one long-time conservative predicts his hold on the Republican Party will only grow stronger in the coming years.
Writing in The New Republic, conservative Jonathan Last argues that the GOP's role as a vehicle for enacting a traditional conservative policy agenda "is dead" and has instead been replaced by seeking vengeance against Trump's enemies.
"The GOP is no longer a traditional political party designed to win elections so that it can enact a policy agenda," he argues. "It is a personality cult built around grievance."
Last finds himself puzzled by Trump's iron grip on the party given that he just lost the 2020 presidential election to President-elect Joe Biden by well over 5 million votes.
However, he notes that the personality cult surrounding Trump has left GOP officials with no choice but to bend to his will or risk alienating the president's voters.
"Consider that while a quarter of a million Americans died from the coronavirus, Trump had the vast majority of Republicans convinced the pandemic was 'overblown,'" he writes. "If Trump can pull off such a shameless act of blatant trickery, he can sell the idea that a few hundred thousand ballots were illegitimate."
He also predicts that any future Republicans who try to carry the mantle of Trumpian populism will never be able to capture the same spark because they are not as ruthlessly cruel as Trump is to his opponents.
"Four years from now, these pikers will discover the truth: that the cruelty and contempt are not just the essential ingredients of Trumpism but exactly what Republican voters hunger for," he writes. "They don’t want deregulation, or a lower marginal tax rate, or even The Wall. What they want is the liberation to talk freely about the people they hate."