Now a new Pew study suggests that almost a quarter of those between 18 and 30 who in late 2015 identified as Republican or who leaned Republican have changed their minds and abandoned the GOP. The Republican party, for all its problems, had a couple of years ago seemed on the verge of being led by a crew of younger and more impressive men and women. Instead it now has Donald Trump at its helm, and the young are deciding that party isn’t for them.
What can be done? President Trump isn’t going anywhere in the near future. But he can perhaps be prevented from defining Republicanism—and for that matter, conservatism—down.
For there is a big difference between a Republican party that allows itself to become a subsidiary of the Trump Organization and a party with leaders who stand against Trump or at least apart from him. There is a big difference between a party that embraces a Trumpian future and one that defines its own future. There’s a big difference between a party of resentment and a party of reform, between a child-like party and a youthful party.
The key to the GOP’s future is not so much the oscillating hourly and daily fortunes of Donald Trump. It is the behavior of other Republican leaders. Do they excuse the inexcusable? Do they defend the indefensible? Do they fail to denounce what deserves denunciation?