Endorsements aside, Mr. Trump has obviously changed the party’s culture, its understanding and presentation of itself. An unanswered question is what this means for policy. Mr. Trump never talks about it. For him, once, it came down to slogans (“America first”) and now it’s all grievance (“stop the steal”) Beyond that it’s—what?
It seems to me at least two-thirds of the base is in agreement on traditional Republican policy—taxes should be lower rather than higher, regulation too. Spending? The general view is “Hold where we are or cut but don’t go crazy.” They are for cultural normality and stability as opposed to lability and extremism. They want these things advanced through the party. They are serious about policy.
But the third or so of the base that is Trumpist, they’re a mix. Some don’t care about policy or party. They’re about attitude—politics is a blood sport and this era is the most fun they ever had.
Regular Republicans know they can’t win general elections without Trump supporters. Some not-insignificant number of Trump supporters don’t care if they lose without non-Trumpers. Because winning isn’t the point, because policy isn’t the point. Attitude is all.
What will be interesting as this evolves is what proportion of Trump supporters really do want to win for serious reasons and will make the compromises victory entails.