These arguments were often jumbled together. But events have been a sieve, and two of the criticisms have fallen away. Trump won, and then he governed the way conservative voters wanted on the issues they care most about. He cut taxes, appointed originalist judges to the Supreme Court and federal appeals courts, imposed few new regulations and rolled back some old ones. His administration has done nearly everything opponents of abortion have asked. While he has made some rhetorical feints to the left on guns and health care, he has not followed through. Trump has changed the Republican Party’s view of some issues, no question. But the party has changed his positions on more of them.
The issues where Trump has broken with previous Republican leaders, meanwhile, are ones on which Republican voters don’t have deep convictions. Take trade. While some Republican voters are unhappy about the effects of Trump’s tariffs, very few are committed on principle to free trade: They didn’t mind it when President George W. Bush put tariffs on steel, and they didn’t mind it when Trump did either. Spending and entitlements are another example. In his first term Bush increased spending and expanded Medicare, and Republican voters stayed supportive. Trump has merely said he would keep entitlements as they are, and he has even been willing to backtrack on that pledge.