Donald J. Trump has created a new conservative movement. But what will he do with his followers? He doesn’t seem to want anyone else to be the head of the Republican party. But that’s not quite the same as wanting to lead the Republicans. Republicans already have leaders like Mitch McConnell, the former majority and now Minority Leader of the Senate. There’s a Minority Leader of the House, Kevin McCarthy. Let’s not forget Ronna Romney McDaniel, Chair of the Republican National Committee (RNC). Every one of these competing leaders has some experience and a history of managing people with other opinions. Or even sharing power in order to move an agenda forward.
Trump, on the other hand, does not like to share power. Or create a specific party platform that his followers can… well…. follow. Trump likes to pivot an swivel, depending on what he considers important today. That might work for individual power, but can it work for a political party with hundreds of candidates? That begs a simple question, “What is a political party?” Is it a group of people that organizes to win elections, has members who seek political positions, and a way to move forward an agenda…. then it also has to provide support for the members of the party. Such as…
POLICY: What are the policies of a Trump-led Republican party? That’s a very difficult question to answer. Trump talked a lot about saving the Coal Industry, but no new policies were pursued and jobs in the industry shrank. Trump was vocally opposed to China’s dictatorship and cyber spying but has been far more accepting of the same issues from Russia. Trump’s policies are very transactional, each issue is addressed separately, without much interest inconsistency. That can be OK for an individual, but it doesn’t work as a party. When Trump pivots on policy, he rarely gives notice to fellow Republicans, the military, or allies. Every Trump pivot is followed by supporters getting run over by a bus. The Trump Party would not be a political debating group. Instead, they would just repeat (and support) Trump’s policies of the moment.
MENTORING: Every political party invests in its young members. Connections, mentoring, and support from today’s party leaders are needed to build today’s political hopefuls into tomorrow’s senior politicians and party leaders. Trump has not shown any interest in mentoring, although he does strongly believe in disciplining disobeying Republicans. Bill Barr, Jeff Sessions, Rudolph Giuliani, Mike Pence, Mitch McConnell, and a ton of others have each been incredibly loyal to Trump. But, when they can no longer contribute to the Trump brand or show signs of independent opinions, they are swiftly punished. Generally, that’s not the way that mentoring works.
SUPPORT: A party provides political candidates with fundraising, a recognizable brand, and a support network. If the opposing party is better at supporting candidates, those candidates tend to win. Trump has shown that he is exceptionally good at raising money, commanding a support network, and creating a brand. In fact, he was a master of these abilities long before he became President. Yet, here too we have the same problem. Trump can perform all of these functions, but he has chosen to perform them exclusively for Donald Trump. During the “Save the Steal” campaign, Trump supposedly raised hundreds of millions of dollars. But who has benefitted from this fundraising? His lawyers claim they haven’t been paid. Trump may be financially supporting other Republican candidates, but any such expenditures have been hush-hush. And then there are the legal costs for the nearly 400 Trump supporters (so far) who were arrested after the riot in Washington. He said he loved the rioters… but does he love them enough to pay their legal bills?
DISCIPLINE: When it comes to getting the troops to line up and follow orders, Trump has been better than almost anyone before him. Other politicians have used either a carrot or a stick to enforce discipline. Trump is all stick and not much carrot. Trump hates compromise. Giving colleagues… something… to make them follow is orders probably feels like a bribe. Or a shakedown. Not that Trump is opposed to bribery, he just wants to control the offer. If you fail to follow his orders, he will go to war with you. In private life, he was renowned for endless lawsuits. In his political life, he’s fixated on crushing opposing politicians… or whistleblowers. He will get you fired or demoted, publicly humiliate you, and support promoting opposing candidates. The question is, “If you have any followers of your own, are you ready to pledge your loyalty to an organization where everyone eventually gets purged?”
THE NEW TRUMP PARTY: Where does that leave us? Trump has been a very successful brand builder, he has been incredibly effective in connecting with his base, and has been far more astute in using social media than any other politician. There is no question that Trump can build a social media juggernaut. Maybe a social media empire! But Trump only promotes Trump. Loyalty to Trump usually doesn’t give you the rewards and protection that other parties offer. Being close to Trump just makes you a better target for being thrown under the bus.
A Trump party must be able to attract and support more than Trump and a few of his closest friends. For the moment, let’s forget about Trump party voters and just focus on candidates. At the Federal level alone there are 535 senators and congressmen. And thousands of appointees. There are nearly 19,000 state politicians… Governors, state legislatures, and more. And over 50,000 local elected politicians. Except for a few governors or mayors, Trump probably doesn’t care, or care enough, to put in the significant time it takes to support these “minor” politicians.
Would a Trump party be good for Donald Trump? Yes, I think it would. Would it be good for the Republicans? Maybe not so much! Wat do you think? Could the