“Good-bye Paul Ryan, hello to a new Republican Party that embraces the president’s politics but not his person.”
A little more than six months from now, on November 7, the sun will rise on a political landscape wrecked by President Donald Trump’s first midterm election. Thanks to a map that puts more Democratic than Republican seats at risk, our party will still cling to control of the Senate, but GOP House members lack insulation: They will crawl out from the smoking rubble of a 40- to 50-seat pounding to find they have lost their majority.
Paul Ryan will be gone. The former Great White Hope of the Republican Party sneaked out of town before reveille, leaving his troops facing extinction. Our remaining soldiers, stunned or wounded, will also have blown the bugle of retreat, fleeing to the shelter of the party’s shrunken conservative base. Our eyes will turn to those survivors, the leaders of a broken party, one only they can restore. They will determine where the Republican Party goes next. How do we renew our party in the Age of Trump?
We don’t have to wait for November’s cataclysm. We can begin now with a strategy to harness Trump’s base and add swing voters, even as we remain faithful to our principles.
To begin, we need to recognize that, although Donald Trump often appeals to the worst in us, the fears that fueled his election are legitimate. They need to be respected. We need a Republican Party as big as those fears and as great as America’s challenges. We need a Republican Party to address the twin concerns that rocketed an inexperienced businessman past both irrelevant political parties and made him president of the United States.
It is unremarkable, at this point, to note that good Americans turned to Donald Trump, not because of his many flaws, but despite them. Trump’s threat and his appeal are identical: He is the undistilled reptilian brain.
Trump is all id, the oldest and most primitive part of our brain, concerned only with the evolutionary basics: sex, sustenance and survival. His brain is not filtered by our social and emotional brain, much less by the rational, pre-frontal cortex. He has no Jeb Bush brain to digest facts and figures, issues and policy. Instead, Trump is a predator. When something enters his world, he either eats it, kills it or mates with it. That is all his predatory instincts can do.
The president’s primitive nature is the root of his narcissism. Trump’s immediate and voracious appetites allow no concern for others or understanding of tomorrow. He reacts instinctively, not emotionally, morally or intellectually. He is insensitive to truth and incapable of discipline or strategy.
Yet Americans elected this predator, this T. rex president, as their last resort, in a desperate attempt to protect themselves from the horde of smaller, slimier predators in Washington who were on the verge of devouring them.