On Monday, David Zuckerman wrote a good piece about Peggy Noonan and her WSJ editorial concerning former President Donald Trump. Noonan argues that electing Donald Trump again would destroy the Republican party. Peggy may be right, and I hope that she is.
Trumps success in 2016 was, in large part, due to the way that he took the mechanisms of the Republican political machine and used them to secure victory. He ran a third-party-style campaign within the structure of the Republican party. The party as a corporate entity was against him, but grassroots Republicans in name and philosophy were all in for candidate Donald Trump. The party has never forgiven him for that.
The Republican establishment is not MAGA. Instead, MAGA is a creation of President Trump and his supporters. The Republicans in Washington work in a feigned conflict with Democrats that leads to a power structure that always gets what it wants. Both parties have a few people that try to push the limits for change, but the establishment always wins. Washington insiders build their power, the government gets larger, and the ranks of government employees grow. The country outside of Washington pays the bills.
One of President Trumps political failures was that he did not secure the reins of the Republican political entity when he had the chance as the head of the party. He allowed the establishment Republicans to maintain control of the political organization, and the Republican establishment joined with others to harm his presidency and prevent his securing a second term.
Image of a smiling Donald Trump generated by Pixlr AI.
President Trump is correctly criticized for the poor record he has with appointing subordinates who ended up working against him and hurting him politically. The Republican establishment was at the center of this failure. He trusted the Republican establishment to suggest people to work in the administration, and the establishment used this trust to install people more interested in maintaining the Washington power structure than making the country great again.
It was the establishment Republicans who convinced President Trump to appoint and continue the leadership within the Department of Justice that is currently on a political vendetta to influence the results of another election. When President Trump saw that his own DOJ was undercutting his presidency and secretly investigating him, it was the Washington Republicans who made public statements against their removal. They wanted the investigations against President Trump to continue.
The Republicans in Washington slow-walked conservative initiatives and legislation. They failed to support President Trump publicly when he came under fire and actually undercut him in public statements. When 2020 rolled in with COVID, riots, and election irregularities, the Republicans left President Trump nearly alone to battle against the entrenched interests that wanted him gone.
The conservative base that supported President Trump found itself battling simultaneously against the Republican establishment and the Democrats. The Democrats do not have this problem. The Democrat party is in lockstep with its base.
Peggy Noonan is a spokesperson for the establishment party that still wants former President Trump to lose and disappear. She fears that the party establishment will be destroyed if former President Trump wins again. I hope that is true.
President Trump will need to do what he did in 2016 in securing the Republican base plus the local Republican political machines if he is to be successful again. When he wins, he needs to begin the process of changing Washington, and that includes remaking the Republican party in his image as an entity that fights the Democrats rather than capitulating.
It can be that new party for which many of us dream will operate under the same old name but in a new direction. The government needs a massive overhaul. The Republican party should get one at the same time, or that establishment party will begin to undermine everything yet again.
Peggy knows this, and she is correct about the effect of a Trump victory in 2024, but she is on the wrong side of what is best for the country.