There were two reasons to support Donald J. Trump in the presidential campaign last year. The first was the man himself, whom one could trust to deliver a much needed shock to the utterly narcissistic, self-involved American political system that would knock it off stasis and get it moving again in a sane and responsible direction. (Responsible to the American people, that is.) The second was the potential Trump showed to be either the reformer of the Republican Party—a party that never conserved anything in more than a century and a half—or the death of it. In both respects, things seem to be moving along nicely.
It was always a gamble whether Trump could, and would, act as the crowbar to pry the GOP apart, without delivering the country to the Democracy. The great risk was that of winning the election at the cost of fatally dividing—and losing—conservative and antiliberal voters. Ten months after the inauguration, it’s beginning to look as if the gamble paid off. Despite the legislative failures to date that are far less attributable to Trump himself than to previous divisions within “his” party, he has already inflicted major damage on his predecessor’s “legacy,” thus dealing a grave blow to the fact as well as the ideal of the virtually omnipotent liberal regulatory state. Now it appears that a Trumpist movement is developing around the United States—focused most notably, since the recent Alabama primary, on forthcoming senatorial elections in Arizona and Nevada—that might in time be strong enough to carry forward Trump’s spirit, initiative, and program even in the absence of the man himself. The liberals’ attempt to portray Luther Strange’s loss to Roy Moore in Alabama as a humiliating personal and political blow to the President is patently ridiculous. Plainly, Alabama voters recognized that Moore was a candidate in the mold of Trump, and that, in voting for Moore, they were voting for the President and his agenda as well.
Meanwhile, Democratic observers and strategists have begun warning their party against overconfidence in their prospects in 2018 and 2020 while urging them to steel themselves against defeat in both elections. Canny Democrats realize they are so far offering the American electorate nothing they haven’t promised them before, and that the increasingly radical policies being pushed on the party by its left wing are unpalatable to the country at large. The liberal media seem to expect, and certainly hope, that the replacement of “moderate” GOP candidates by Trump Republicans will push “moderate” voters on the right away from the “radicals” and toward their Democratic opponents. But that is a large and increasingly dangerous assumption, as the election of 2016 and those that have occurred so far this year suggest.