Attending CPAC this year really let you in on where the conservative movement’s head is at, and many of the heads were donned with red caps that read “make America great again.” It’s clear that the Republican party still has Trump on its collective mind.
It’s okay. So does the left.
The Republican party was greatly affected by Trump, and even his most fervent detractors can’t deny that fact. What’s more, it was more or less acknowledged by speakers at CPAC, like Texas Senator Ted Cruz who said in no uncertain terms that Trump isn’t going anywhere.
The truth is, Trump’s influence has had its benefits. One of the few political candidates that Trump couldn’t get elected was himself, Republicans are more apt to go on the offensive now, and political correctness has never been more out of fashion to the right than it is now. Like Andrew Breitbart inspired an army of citizen journalists and activists, Trump inspired Republicans to play by their own rules, and not the rules established for them by people who hate them.
The left has a name for this attitude. They call it “Trumpism.”
It’s a phrase that is technically right, but the right would do well not to adopt it themselves. In fact, the right would be wise to make sure that this new attitude isn’t married to Trump and for a few good reasons.
The first, and most important, is that while Trump may have influenced the right to do this, this isn’t an attitude that is his by default. This isn’t “Trump’s right,” it’s just “the right” now. This is the attitude and methods of the Republican party.
Throughout my time in the movement, I’ve learned that tying a group or organization’s personality and methods to one man often goes awry. Should that one person’s stock go down for any reason, then the entire organization’s does. It loses morale, splits, and divides as different groups within the group attempt to define what the new identity looks like from their own perspectives and desires.
Moreover, it’s clear that not everyone within the party agrees with everything Trump says and does, making it difficult to adopt the winning strategies and positive outcomes that made Trump so successful. It’s perfectly understandable for someone to take a more individualist route within the Republican party as we are a party of individualists. Tying your belief system and the methods that come with it to one man isn’t going to sit well with these individualists.
To be fair, it’s hard to evolve or perfect strategies if one is tied to the methods of the man who started them.
This brings me to another point. Ideological and methodical evolution is needed as time progresses, especially in our day and age as to how we communicate and what trends in our culture change by the day. A failure to budge because we’re asking ourselves “WWTD” and attempting to mimic his response won’t always work.
It’s best that the Republican party stay loose and agile. Holding ourselves to the methods and reactions of one man doesn’t allow for that. We can keep his influence without making our every decision around him.
Finally, we shouldn’t make “Trumpism” a thing because it’s a trap by the left. The left wants to tie everything we do to Trump and with that done, they can proceed to launch an attack on that singular trait.
Strategically it’s a brilliant strategy. Boil down your opponent to one aspect and then bring everything you have to bear against it. They can demonize Trump, lie, drag his name through the mud, and as they do, the right will suffer right along with it as the susceptible youth and no-so politically inclined are fooled into believing the worst.
But the right is far more diverse than the ideas of one man, no matter how popular that man is within the party. It’s not just a party of varying ethnicities, classes, religions, and sexualities. It’s an ideologically diverse group as well. One of the reasons the left harps on the idea of “diversity and inclusion” so hard is because they don’t actually have it as the Republican party does. It’s primarily superficial. Ideas that don’t jive with their approved mainstream requirements aren’t just rejected, they’re punished.
The Republican party is more than Trump and the left would rather people not know that. Accepting the moniker of “Trumpism” for the new way of doing things allows them to generate narratives and pigeonhole Republicans and conservatives into a belief system that we don’t have.
It’s pretty clear that Trump was a great president with massive amounts of influence on the right, but Trump isn’t the right, he’s a component of it.