Not drawing an exact parallel here, but for historical purposes the Whig party won the presidency in 1848, lost in a landslide in 1852 and then was no more. Winfield Scott managed to win his party’s nomination, but did not represent the values of his party at large, and most especially did not represent his party’s most ardent supporters (the abolitionists). The party was divided against itself and could not hold together, and the abolitionists moved on to form a new party, the Republican party.
Donald Trump does not represent Tea Party, Evangelicals, Second Amendment Rights, Right to Life, or Libertarians. Obviously he appeals to some Republicans, but a very large part does not accept him, and it is the most active members who reject him. The biggest problem for the party is that the passionate base has been run over since 1984. George H. W. Bush was acceptable, along with George W. Bush, but neither really represented the Conservative movement. While in a big tent one would expect ebb and flow there has been very little ebb, just going with the flow. I suspect that a Trump candidacy would mean the effective end of the Republican party. There would be many Republicans up for re-election that would need to change their party affiliation to avoid Trump’s coattails, and the natural name would be Tea Party, or Conservative Party. This would be especially true in swing districts, and if the switch starts in Ohio and Florida you can expect that Texas and Oklahoma would follow along rather quickly.
The “establishment” of such a party would coalesce around a unifying theme – and the theme would have to be a combination of the following:
- Limited Government
- Bill of Rights
- Refusal to compromise on any of those things
I imagine that a Senate leader and a House leader would be something along the lines of Mike Lee, and someone from the Freedom Caucus.
To the moderates: You may be able to live with Trump. Your base can not. One way or another Trump will not be representing conservatives any more than Lincoln represented Whigs.
You have been warned.