Donald Trump is the presumptive Republican presidential candidate. His opponents have all dropped out of the race, leaving Trump as the last man standing in the Republican competition for the nomination. The 2015-16 presidential primaries and debates have often seemed more like episodes of “House of Cards” than real political campaigns. No one could have predicted that a rogue candidate like Trump, as many political predictors all saw as a joke when his candidacy was announced, would have made it as far as the nomination. Now with The Donald as the potential Republican nominee, his acceptance by the party will redefine GOP conservative values in the United States.
There has never been a conservative Republican candidate like the Donald. If the Republicans move forward with Trump as their nominee, they redefine their conservative values at the very least, as no longer conservative Christian. Trump is more TV evangelist than the Pope. His lifestyle has not been representative of what is commonly associated with conservative Republicans. His tendency for over the top representations of himself seems to be in contradiction to the office of the president, let alone a Republican president. However, the group who touts themselves as a compass to morality based on conservative Christian views and the truth may now have a leader more often associated with lies and hatred.
Trump does not represent the Christian traditional values that the Republican party has used to define itself. Trump famously misquoted a bible verse during a speech to the world’s largest Christian university. He has also been married several times, Ronald Reagan is the only U.S. President that has had a divorce prior to his presidency. The Donald is currently on his third marriage. Family values and the stability of the nuclear family is another concept that the presumed Republican nominee makes look unstable. Trump’s current wife does not represent the level of conservatism that is generally associated with a first lady, yet he may lead the self-proclaimed Christian conservatives as their political leader. Trump, in essence, could redefine what conservatives actually value. Other candidates, even those seen as liberal have been held to a much higher standard of their religious commitment than has Trump.
The redefining of the Republican party’s conservative values seems to have been evolving over the past eight years. The Donald may simply be taking advantage of the apparent weakness in the party. Trump has been a voice that began speaking louder as more dissension arose among conservatives.
There has apparently been an identity crisis within the Republican party that the rest of the country has not been acutely aware. Who is to blame for the rise of a Trump Republican nominee is under debate. While everyone saw the rise of the tea party as a radical subset within the Republican party, no one seemed to take them too seriously. However, voices like Sarah Palin, a tea party leader, had platforms of influence inside the Republican party. According to “The Atlantic,” the tea party leaders fanned the flames of rage against the U.S. Government. Television programs that have been presented as political news like the Glenn Beck Show or Rush Limbaugh often called for anti-trust of politicians and the established governmental process. These shows have been opinion programs that many followers took as facts.
The tea party has a voice very similar to that of Trump. The two have focused on conspiracy theories and fear as the basis of political ideologies. The tea party followers were the lead behind the birther conspiracy that said Barack Obama was not born in the United States, with Trump leading the call for the president’s birth certificate.
Erick Erickson, the former editor of RedState.com, insists that the Republican party’s ineffectiveness has led to Trump’s rise. He blames the party establishment for not keeping promises to voters and not the conservative movement as to what led to Trump’s success. Erickson continues by pointing out that many of Trump’s policies are a departure from what conservative Republicans say they want, implying they are not looking for more promises. Sarah Chamberlain, the president of the Republican Main Street Partnership, stated that people see Trump as a man of action someone who can get things done when she commented on his win in the Indiana primary, June 3.
According to “The New York Times,” more working class Republicans have lost confidence in the established Republican party. Trump being a representative that is not a part of the political norm, has become enough for conservatives. Ari Fleischer, the press secretary for former President George W. Bush, told “The New York Times” that if Trump were to win the election he would change what it means to be Republican.
Donald Trump is not the confirmed presidential nominee as of yet. However, his success as a Republican candidate has already begun to redefine conservative Republican values as they have been previously understood. “The New York Times” believes that this is a time for the GOP elite to take note that their constituents are calling for something different. So, whether Trump is confirmed as their leader or not, his rise seems to demonstrate a need for change and redefinition in the Republican party.
Opinion by Gichele Cocrelle
Edited by Cathy Milne
CBC News: Donald Trump Misquotes the bible while speaking at a Christian University
The New Yorker: Going There with Donald Trump
The New York Times: How the G.O.P elite lost its voters to Donald Trump
The Atlantic: Is the Tea part responsible for Donald Trump
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