Both major parties are experiencing huge rifts right now. While the Democrats struggle to decide whether to adopt the far left economic policies of Sen. Bernie Sanders at the expense of his more centrist views on issues like gun rights or the hawkish approach and scandal-ridden politics of Hillary Clinton, the Republicans face a similar dilemma. Donald Trump’s meteoric rise and gravity defying campaign has done little but cause rancor and division within the GOP, especially among those previously thought to be conservative in their approach.
Nowhere is the divide on the right more apparent than with National Review’s latest attack on the arrogant businessman. Once upon a time, the Republican party was thought to be that of smaller government. A demand to a return to those roots was the initial push behind the Tea Party. But as Trump has demonstrated, those lofty ideals no longer matter, having been replaced with authoritarianism.
That’s where the National Review comes in. On Jan. 20, an entire issue was devoted to taking him down, calling Trump and his followers out for failing to live up to the standards of conservatism. In it, they point out that the only reason his supporters truly follow him is because he is perceived as “anti-establishment.” They then point out that just because somebody is against the establishment, that doesn’t make them an ideal candidate, pointing out that other candidates also fit that mold, and that the establishment candidates appear to be more conservative than Trump on many issues.
In fact, Trump’s biggest critics have not only been Democrats and independents (and anybody with a modicum of sense), but also the hard right. They point out his lack of scruples and morals, as well as his illiteracy when it comes to the Bible — not popular among fundamentalist Christians and other religious groups. Additionally, he has long been a Hillary Clinton supporter and, as Ted Cruz shrewdly pointed out, comes from New York — hardly a bastion of conservative principles.
National Review’s scathing critique of Trump is an implicit defense of the establishment wing of the GOP. Ironically, it’s now the establishment who is going to war with National Review over it, disinviting them from the Republican National Convention. Presumably these factions are fighting to ultimately create more unity within the party, but attacking one of the most respected voices on the right in the National Review in order to push followers behind an anti-establishment Trump, who lacks conservative credentials, will likely expose the divide even further.
Other candidates have blasted the RNC’s decision, with Jeb Bush leading the charge, pointing out the magazine’s conservative track record. While Jeb’s candidacy may be quixotic at best right now, (his mom is the only one who thinks he can still win), he does have a point. But is it too late for the GOP to regain whatever credibility they have lost with Trump’s rise to the top?