It is undeniable that the 2016 presidential election was revolutionary. Donald Trump, an outsider to the political realm, beat longtime establishment Democrat, Hillary Clinton. His positions were unorthodox for the Republican Party, and his approach to politics as a whole was brash and crude. Despite these quirks, Trump appealed to the average American voter enough to secure a presidential term. How could this happen? What does this mean? To answer that question, we have to take a trip back to the 2000s.
The Republican nominee in the 2000 election was George W. Bush. Following in his father’s footsteps, he claimed to be a “fiscal conservative” and ran on lower taxes, nearly complete free trade, and advocated for immigration reform. He and other Republicans were broadly apathetic to the culture-shifting further to the left. This was the Republican Party of the post-Reagan/Bush Era: communism bad, capitalism good. This statement is objectively true, and capitalism had just won against communism, and capitalism is what this country stood for, and still does. So why did the American people flock away from this?
The system wasn’t working in the eyes of many Americans and for good reason. Complete free trade was benefiting big businesses at the expense of the small. The culture was beginning to shift far to the left in tandem with this. Perhaps most damning of all, Bush’s reasoning for staying in Afghanistan long after it was necessary was downright Wilsonian! This, accompanied by the Obama administration, led the American people to feel disaffected and unheard. Americans knew there needed to be a change.
Then came Donald Trump, a New York billionaire and host of The Apprentice. His message was different: more strict border control, fiscal policies that put Americans first, ending the “Forever Wars,” and promises to “Drain the Swamp.” This man was bold and brunt, catching the eye of a lot of disaffected Americans. As a result of this upfront “no compromise” attitude towards these timely issues, Trump won the Republican primaries. This was seen as a threat to some establishment Republicans, but it was more of a threat to Democrats who had been claiming win after win.
This was a threat that needed to be present to halt their advances to the left, a threat that hadn’t been seen since the Reagan era. After such apathy to the culture being shifted to the left, Trump focussed on the culture again. His boldness was a rude yet necessary wake-up call that stirred up voters and brought them to realize what this country has become and was shifting towards over the past couple of decades.
Trump’s presidency was also defined by lowering taxes and promoting capitalism, but that’s scratching the surface of what he achieved; stronger tariffs, stronger borders, and grinding the advance of social liberalism to a halt. Businesses had to work for the people, not the other way around. Trump helped protect American families by holding politicians and big businesses accountable. As Bush continued to suck up to the establishment, staying soft on the immigration issue, Trump stood firm in his beliefs and his promises. It was an administration that claimed to put the American people first, and many Americans knew it was working for them.
Finally, after all the years of sucking up and giving in, there was a chance for a political revival on the right. Trump’s achievements in office despite the pushback from the establishment were extraordinary, and a true testament to what strong leadership will do for a political movement; and this is undeniably a political movement on the right broadly.
Now that Trump is out of office, politics has changed dramatically. Politicians like Ron DeSantis in Florida are notably following in Trump’s footsteps. The Republicans won the gubernatorial race in Virginia not because of economic policy, but because of education. Donald Trump has almost single-handedly pulled back the curtain and called the American people to action. Gone are the days where we can stand for lowering taxes, globalization, and apathy to all else. Cultural issues have been put at the forefront of politics again: education, freedom and its limits, the traditional family structure, etc.
Republican voters are increasingly unhappy with the establishment, and most of them have flocked to Trump, DeSantis, and other figures who will fight for them. Now it’s up to the establishment Republicans to either follow suit or not, and that might cost them their careers.
The views expressed in this article are the opinion of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of Lone Conservative staff.