Vice President Mike Pence with the leading House Republican Paul RyanOffice of the Speaker

In 2008, the Obama campaign received an unlikely endorsement. General Colin Powell, the former Secretary of State under George W. Bush, had openly declared his support of the unlikely candidate on Meet the Press. The main reason: he saw the Republican Party moving too far to the right, and was openly critical of Senator John McCain’s running mate, Sarah Palin. He saw the GOP becoming increasingly divided – the conservative element of the party becoming more conservative and dragging the rest of the Republican Party along with them.

The success of Donald Trump’s campaign and his subsequent election to the presidency in not only symptomatic of a divided country fraught with the fear of invisible foes, but symptomatic of the ever-widening split within the GOP, a party arguably already on its last legs.

It is easy to claim that this election was an attempt to reclaim America for (white) Americans and that the election of Donald Trump is a symptom of America’s ‘fear of a black president.’ Yet that is an oversimplification which ignores the legitimate concerns of those uncertain about their future, and the future of their children.

“In this election, conservative fury was unleashed and indulged in the form of an orange man wearing a red hat.”

With Romney, the GOP managed to give Obama a run for his money. By the time of the election in 2012, according to the Huffington Post, the polls showed that Obama had 48.1 per cent, just slipping ahead of Romney who, by 8th November, had 46.7 per cent of the vote. However, in choosing Ryan for vice president – a young moderate, and chair of the House Budget Committee – it was clear what the focus of the Romney-Ryan campaign was going to be: budget and the deficit. As such, Romney ultimately lost because his campaign was out of touch with its main supporters, as well as with the rest of America.

For Democrats as well as a growing number of Republicans, the campaign appeared to favour Wall Street in decreasing taxes for the one per cent and gave empty promises to create jobs. Furthermore, his attempts to appeal to minority voters – his claim that he could ‘relate to black people’ because his ‘ancestors owned slaves’, and his comments on the 47 per cent of lazy freeloading inner-city Americans – essentially cinched Obama’s win. It managed to simultaneously alienate Romney from minority groups and the majority of his constituents.

For another four years, team ‘Joebama’, made significant progress. Unemployment fell from from eight to six per cent, the Supreme Court legalised gay marriage in 2015 and minorities felt a surge of hope as the crime rate in cities such as Chicago decreased and income levels steadily rose. Despite this, social media and conservative news sites such as Breitbart and Fox News capitalised on the shifting opinions of rural, small-town America more towards the right, enclosing them in a bubble where their views are not shot down as racist. This made a platform where they are given a voice, and where they are once more the centre of American politics.

In this election, Trump was able to capitalise on the frustration of those felt left behind by the singular entity called ‘Washington.’ He was able to sidestep minorities because this election was not about jobs for everyone but reaching out to those who felt isolated by this new all-inclusive America. In short, conservative fury was unleashed and indulged in the form of an orange man wearing a red hat.

Trump’s ‘ideas’ have isolated moderate Republicans such as Mitt Romney, John McCain (R-AZ), and Lindsey Graham (R-NC), who have already been vocal against the actions he has taken as president. However, the biggest threat to the party is healthcare. The internal pressures put on Republicans between those who do not want to support the ‘radical’ idea of public health care and those who have benefited from it will be the main factor in its eventual split. Furthermore, in the Party’s alienation of minorities, the Democrats will become more powerful. As they become solidified in their opposition to Trump and gain popular support from minorities and pro-healthcare Republicans, it will put external pressure on the opposition as they lose constituents and seats to the other side of the aisle, eventually causing the Republicans to split into two distinct parties: moderates and conservatives.

Now, in no way do I wish to give the impression that I am a Republican. I’m not. But I cannot help but be worried by the state of the Republican Party. Democracy is built as much on inclusiveness as it is on disagreement. Perhaps, in the end, it will be something as simple as an existential crisis that spells the end of the party: that the party of Lincoln cannot also be the party of Trump. Either way, the future of the party looks bleak

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