If the Tea Party’s mantra was “no more bailouts”, the Trump army’s mantra is “where’s my bailout?” And for nationalist Republicans, Independents, and disaffected Democrats, this is a message that has far greater appeal than many might have imagined. It will continue to be a challenge moving forward for conservatives to offer a message that appeals to these impulses in a healthy manner, not in the vengeful attitude of Trumpism.
Last August, I posed the question: are Republicans for freedom or for white identity politics? Trump has proven that a sizable enough portion of the party and of willing crossover voters are emphatically in favor of the latter. He is as of today poised to win the nomination of the party over the objections of the Republican elites, who settled at long last on Marco Rubio as their vehicle, and the frustrations of conservatives, who are holding out hopes for Ted Cruz. Neither was able or willing to settle on the other in time to make a difference.
The success Donald Trump has found tells us a great deal about the weaknesses of both factions – but most of all, it shows us what can happen when you realize you are locked in a battle to the death over the future of your party only after the voting starts.