When a party is built around a person, the aftermath can be especially messy when he exits the scene. Few of the crucial debates about the meaning of Trumpism can be considered settled by Republicans if Trump’s appeal to voters is mostly about his theatrics, celebrity and stoking of negative partisanship — opposition to the other party rather than support of your own. Is Trump’s appeal about race (and racism)? Is it about the GOP’s mistaken belief that its working class voters were passionate supporters of laissez-faire economics when they actually wanted government help? Or something else entirely?
Don Jr. offered one answer: He presented the case for Trumpism as a set of cultural resentments and in-crowd buttons to be pressed. Even the president’s oldest son has been changed by Trumpism. Four years ago, Don Jr. was the member of the Trump family who had the closest links to traditional conservatism and its interest groups and the one who was most likely to understand the language of the movement. Today Don Jr., who is unencumbered by any formal administration role, has become the mayor of the online Trump community, a ringleader slinging MAGA memes, owning the libs and sending social media mobs after reporters who cross him.
His speech Monday strung together the buzzwords and themes familiar to anyone who follows him online. It was essentially a long and slightly more polished thread of tweets.