The problem is not just Trump, awful candidate though he may be, but Trumpism itself.
To start with, it’s a losing message. The voting population of today is not the voting population of the 1950s, or even the 1990s. White voters have declined from 78 percent of the electorate as recently as 2000 to just 69 percent today. Already minority voters are a majority of eligible voters in three states (California, Hawaii, and New Mexico), and more than 40 percent of eligible voters in three more (Georgia, Maryland, and Texas). And those demographics are not going to change in ways that are favorable to Trump’s message. By 2032, another 14 states will cross the 40 percent threshold.
In addition, women make up 52 percent of registered voters, and unmarried women, who are traditionally more likely than married women to vote Democratic, make up 31 percent of eligible women voters. On top of that, people younger than 30 make up 16 percent of registered voters. That’s a lot of voters to write off.
One cannot win an election by running for president of Breitbart Nation.
Besides, we already have one political party committed to big government. If history should teach Republicans anything, it is that they can’t win a bidding war with Democrats. Indeed, the biggest victories that Republicans have had, from Ronald Reagan to the Tea Party–fueled midterm of 2010, have been driven by a clear alternative of limited government and individual liberty. Trump has all but completely disavowed this type of conservatism. His campaign has been one long string of promises for government to do and spend more. How are voters to tell a Trumpian GOP from the Democrats?
But beyond political strategy, Trumpism is wrong for the country. We are faced with massive debts and unsustainable entitlements that our children will have to pay for. Economic growth is barely above water, meaning fewer jobs and lower wages. Poverty remains too high. Obamacare is falling apart.
Trumpism is less about solving these problems than about dividing up the spoils. It is about using government to benefit Trump’s constituency. It is a fixed‐pie view of the economy, concerned about how the pie is divvied up, rather than about growing the pie.
Republicans need to reject this view of the world and, instead, embrace an open and optimistic message of growth and opportunity. We need an America open to the world and frugal at home. Republicans need to articulate policies that welcome and appeal to the new electorate, not cling to the old. They need to remain a free‐market party, but to become one that accepts social justice, too.
There’s still a month until the election, but it’s never too early to start thinking about what comes next.