Trump’s GOP 

For better or for worse, the Republicans are now the president’s party.

On midterm election night, I looked into the camera and told President Trump — who watches a lot of Fox News — that his success in keeping a Republican Senate majority was the dagger that destroyed the old Republican Party. He is now the sole proprietor of what I call the Trump Party.

Juan Williams
  • Juan Williams

Brit Hume, my conservative colleague, disagreed. He said Trump is fulfilling longstanding GOP priorities by nominating right-wing judges, lessening government regulation on business, opposing abortion, opposing gun control, and more.

But the GOP before Trump stood for free trade, not tariffs. They supported legal immigration. They fought high deficits. They backed NATO allies and opposed Russian aggression. And they did not embrace the politics of put-downs — including lying, nasty comments about women — while emboldening racists and anti-Semites.

It is hard for me to believe that so many people who once called themselves Republicans, specifically in Indiana, Missouri, and Florida, decided to vote for Trump's candidates, despite the president's daily words and actions debasing honest political debate. Those voters had no problem with a political ad so racist that Fox, NBC, and Facebook eventually pulled it. They had no issue with his fear-mongering over a caravan of desperate immigrants. They saw nothing wrong with him demonizing Democrats who stand up to him as a "mob."

It is hard to understand how close to 40 percent of the country and 90 percent of Republicans approve of this man.

To choke off dissent from the old GOP, the day after the midterms Trump dumped on Republicans who did not embrace him. He named candidates who lost to shame them. He cut down proud Republican lawmakers including Representatives Peter Roskam of Illinois, Barbara Comstock of Virginia, and Mia Love of Utah.

As retiring Representative Ryan Costello (R-Pa.) tweeted, it is tough enough that so many House Republicans lost their seats but then to "have him piss on [you] — angers me to my core."

In fact, of the 75 candidates endorsed by Trump, only 21 won. That is 28 percent, a losing record. Even in the Senate, where Republicans retained their majority, the party saw Democrats win the popular vote by more than 9 million votes. Somehow, Trump described those results as "very close to complete victory."

He must be talking about the party of Trump, because the election results in the House, in governors' races, and state legislature races were good news for Democrats.

But Trump was sending a message to Republicans. Like a mob boss, he demands absolute loyalty and will turn his back on any Republican who fails to fall in line. With Trump critics in the GOP like Ohio Governor John Kasich, Senator Jeff Flake, and Senator Bob Corker now leaving office, there will be few Republicans left to challenge Trump, further consolidating his rebranding of the GOP as his personal vehicle.

When the House GOP conference chooses its leaders next week, it will be a contest among zealous Trump acolytes. Freedom Caucus member Jim Jordan announced his bid for Minority Leader last week, saying it is House Republicans' job to defend the president from Democratic investigation. He is challenging an incumbent, Kevin McCarthy, who is a longtime Trump apologist who brags about his personal relationship with the president. Forget House Republicans. 

The Republican resistance — such as it is — could find new voices among kinder, moderate GOP governors in blue states who eschewed the Trump brand of politics. Massachusetts Governor Charlie Baker was reelected with 67 percent of the vote. Maryland Governor Larry Hogan was reelected with 56 percent of the vote. Neither man has shown an appetite to take the fight directly to Trump. Mitt Romney, who once stood with the anti-Trump resistance, just won a Senate seat in Utah. But in 2018 Romney praised Trump, saying his policies are "pretty effective." Trump then endorsed Romney.

Sticking with Trump cost Republicans the House majority and over 300 state legislative seats this time around. How many more seats in Congress and statehouses across the country are they willing to sacrifice on the altar of Trumpism? Will any Republicans step forward to try to reclaim the soul of their party before Trump further corrupts it? 

Juan Williams is an author and a political analyst for Fox News Channel.

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