Donald Trump's campaign repercussions are already affecting the future of the Republican Party. With a campaign filled with controversy, accusations, and vitriol, Trump has likely damaged Republican power for several election cycles.
I have been a moderate conservative for about a decade now, usually voting Republican or Libertarian with the occasional Democrat thrown into the mix. I typically vote conservatively, so I have a very vested interest in the future of the GOP. It is that future for which I am concerned, and here is why.
The greatest challenge every political party faces is shaping public perception to their benefit. However, the behavior of public party members does not constitute the entirety of that perception. The average voter, like you and me, also play a major role in this aspect.
Donald Trump's campaign and personal behavior aside, the behavior of his supporters has shifted popular perception of the GOP to the negative, even among Republicans. Violence, racism, and sexism have surfaced regularly both from Trump and from his supporters. Remember the recent #repealthe19th tweets? Or how about the endorsement of the KKK?
The lack of cohesion within the party and the dissent of party leaders from their party's own candidate imply weakness, impotency, and incompetence. Whether or not those characteristics are true or not is less relevant than the perception of the public.
Presidential campaigns typically focus on winning over moderates and independents who will vote for either party. While obvious, the problem with Donald Trump's campaign is the lack of that targeting, appealing instead to a support base on the right wing of the right wing. Trump has failed to gain non-party support in any major capacity, but rather his campaign has fed his own subset of the GOP. It was an excellent strategy to win the nomination, but a terrible one for running a national campaign.
This series of actions has brought the worst the Republican party has to offer to the surface. The Tea Party was a bit painful when it was popular, but their politics have nothing on what we have had to deal with during Trump's campaign.
The Donald Trump campaign has degraded perception of the Republican Party. Why? The GOP allowed Donald Trump to win the nomination. His controversies have included banning Muslims from entering the country (now recanted), building a wall and making Mexico pay for it, and claiming climate change is a fabrication of the Chinese (according to a deleted Tweet you can find at Climate Change News). And did I forget to mention the mounds of sexual assault allegations and various inappropriate comments?
Donald Trump's campaign tarnished the reputation of the GOP. The damage has been done, and the behaviors of both Trump and his supporters throughout the campaigning season will not be quickly forgotten.
If the GOP wants to counteract the negative perceptions instigated by the poor conduct of Donald Trump's campaign, they will need to focus on what in essence is re-branding. It takes a long time to build a respectable reputation, and only a single election to smear it.
So what can be done?
The Republican party needs to run away from Trump. GOP leaders need to withdraw all support from Donald Trump's campaign. Regardless of what happens with this election, for the party regain the trust of moderates both within and without, drastic action must be taken.
Is this ideal? No. Division within the party is disastrous, but it has already occurred. GOP leadership need to show strength of character rather than circle the wagons and do damage control. More than likely the election will not go well for Republicans due to the mishandling of the presidential campaign.
The GOP needs to focus on the future now, not the present.
So what do you think of the future of the GOP? Tell us your thoughts in the comments below!
[Featured Image by Jessica Kourkounis/Getty Images]