Demographically, the Republican Party has a problem that goes well beyond Donald Trump and the 2016 election. Thanks to a rapidly-changing electorate, Democrats enjoy a much breezier path to the White House than ever before. They begin with a startling electoral advantage, forcing any Republican nominee to fight hard for those handful of swing states that are beginning to look increasingly blue. Democrats have successfully branded themselves the party of minorities, and minorities are quickly becoming the dominant force in national politics.
It is in these changes that we see why John McCain and Mitt Romney could not overcome Barack Obama. It’s why we see things like the “2012 Autopsy Report,” which advised the GOP to overhaul immigration rhetoric in an attempt to bring in Hispanic voters. It’s why we’ve seen the Republican Party play weak defense for the last eight years, struggling to oppose Obama without actually standing up for conservatism.
But actual conservatives of all demographic stripes are starting to see what’s going on. They’re starting to realize that the Republican Party is leaving them behind. The 2016 primaries revealed those fractures in stunning clarity as GOP voters selected Donald Trump over an enormous field of viable, experienced political veterans. The results were an historic rejection of the party’s current path and a crystal-clear message to the Republican establishment: Whatever you’re doing, it isn’t working.
With Trump, Republican voters have a nominee so unpredictable and divisive that he could very well lose to Hillary Clinton in a landslide to end all landslides. But they also have a man who – unlike the Bushes and the Rubios and the Cruzes – could potentially turn blue states red for the first time in decades.
This possibility exists because the Democratic Party has left millions of voters behind in its cynical effort to exploit minorities. West Virginian coal miners, Pennsylvania steel workers, and Michigan auto workers have watched in horror as their party has abandoned them. In Trump, they see a Republican they can get behind.
On Tuesday, Trump delivered a speech on trade that accused the country’s financial elite of using globalization to enrich themselves while leaving “millions of our workers with nothing but poverty and heartache.” He proposed a renegotiation of NAFTA, accompanied by punitive policies against countries like China that have manipulated their currency at the expense of Americans.
This is hardly a conservative platform; in fact, it’s further to the left than most Democrats dare to go. But then, if it was conservatism that Republican voters were after this year, Ted Cruz would be the nominee. Trump did not ascend to the nomination by embodying a strict conservative platform; he defeated his rivals by ignoring the usual ideological dividing lines in favor of his own unique brew of patriotic nationalism.
Americans on both sides of the political spectrum are ready to take some risks. Voters from both parties are tired of watching their elected representatives pander to minorities with nonsensical proposals that won’t help anyone. We don’t want to be Sweden. We don’t want to be Mexico.
We want to be America, and we don’t want to be ashamed of it.
Trump is divisive, no doubt about that. But when it’s all said and done, he may turn out to be the mythical unifier that so many others have failed to be.