Now the party of Ronald Reagan is being led by a man with no discernible ideological leanings, save for an affinity with some of history’s ugliest.
“The likelihood of the Republican Party surviving this, of there being another Republican president in the future, is small,” said one movement conservative who served in the Bush White House. “I don’t think the party survives.”
Far from the halls of the Hoover Institution and big Washington policy shops is a force they cannot control: the Trump campaign, a small collection of social-media gurus, Breitbart alumni, and Trump family members who have managed to capture the majority of Republican voters in the U.S., and who may use their new power to launch a media network, or take over as the new axis of the GOP, or both. And as the old establishment looks on in horror, the civil war in its ranks has already begun.
“I’ve never seen so many really smart people at a loss for what to do,” says the head of one prominent conservative think tank. “They’re pulling their hair out, to the extent they have any hair left.”
“We’ve known the cause of death while the patient was still alive on the table.”
There is pretty universal agreement in conservative circles that the immediate cause of death was blunt force trauma with a loud, orange object.
there is wide disagreement as to whether this was a sudden, unpredictable trauma—a piano falling on you as you walk down the street—or the result of deep-seated, sclerotic disease.
“The ugliness of those forces is real. The number of people who supported Trump is alarming.
Some among them just think it’s time to start over. “If you can’t resurrect the Republican brand with less than half a billion dollars and spending four to eight years to get it done,” Glover, who is on the board of Roy’s new think tank, said, it might be time to think about starting something new.
The party she envisions is one with “a Jeb Bush platform but with a 21st-century bolt on acknowledging climate change, gay marriage and campaign finance reform that’s First Amendment-compliant.”
Trump could only have happened to a party that was already paralyzed by an identity crisis—one that still has to be dealt with in addition to the secondary identity crisis wrought by Trump.
three disparate factions that find themselves squabbling under the Republican tent—the Trump fans, the stand-pat establishment, and the conservative Jesuits—
What the orange dragon chooses to do after the drubbing Republicans are sure he’s going to get might be the difference between the final nail in the GOP coffin, and a revival. And again, few really believe in the latter, not even the stalwarts. “I have a feeling no one’s going to learn a lot from this campaign because of the unique nature of Trump,” says the think tank head. “I’m one of the people who is feeling a lot of angst.” If he starts a media company, says Ayres, “It will be far harder to heal the wounds that he opened up, and far harder to put Humpty Dumpty back together again.”
“It’s in Trump’s nature to continue to want to be relevant, to have people come to Trump Tower to lick his boots for years to come,”
As for the people who hope Trump will simply melt away on November 9 and remove the threat of collapse from the Republican Party? “I appreciate but do not share their optimism,” says Soltis Anderson. “I feel like we are in for a pretty long civil war.”