Bear with me. No Republican president in the lifetime of this writer, not even Ronald Reagan, united the party as did Trump in the week of his acquittal in the Senate and State of the Union address.
According to the Gallup Poll, 94% of Republicans approve of his handling of his presidency, in his fourth year, despite the worst press any president has ever received and the sustained hostility of our cultural elites.
Only Bush I in the first months of the 1991 Gulf War and Bush II in the first months of the 2003 Iraq War registered support like this. Only one Republican, Sen. Mitt Romney, and only after having consulted God himself, joined Speaker Nancy Pelosi and voted with Sen. Chuck Schumer’s caucus to bring down the president.
When have Republicans ever exhibited the home-team enthusiasm they demonstrated during that State of the Union address and the post-acquittal gathering in the East Room? When have working- and middle-class voters shown such support for a Republican as they do for Trump at his mammoth rallies? Heading for November, this is a party united.
But not only is Trump the great uniter of the GOP. He is the great uniter of Democrats. Every Democrat but three in the House voted to impeach and remove him. Every Democrat in the Senate voted to convict and expel him from office and prevent his ever running again.
In Iowa and New Hampshire, evicting Trump from the Oval Office seemed the one issue that animated every candidate. Getting Trump out of the White House seems far more important to Democrats than getting U.S. troops out of the endless Middle East wars.
But while he has made more than a small contribution to our savage partisanship, is Trump really the cause of the uncivil war in America? Or is his presidency, like Gettysburg, simply the battlefield upon which America’s cultural and political war is currently engaged?
Consider. Bernie Sanders’ nationalization of health care and abolition of private health insurance for 150 million Americans is grounded in a socialism that has never been reconcilable with Trump’s belief in the superiority of the private sector, a belief reflected in Trump’s tax cuts for corporations and individuals and his deregulation policies.
Democrats’ unanimous support for “reproductive rights” is in eternal conflict with the traditionalist belief in a God-given right to life, as well as with Trump’s pledge to nominate justices who will overturn Roe v. Wade. Still, the battles over the Supreme Court nominations of Robert Bork and Clarence Thomas predated by decades the battle over Brett Kavanaugh.
Immigration may determine the destiny of the West. Yet, Democrats believe in tearing down Trump’s wall, an end to deportations, extending welfare benefits to border-crossers and granting sanctuary from border security agents for criminals here illegally.
That Americans of European descent, 90% of the nation in 1960, close to 60% today, will, in 20 years, be less than half of the population, is for Democrats a cause of ceaseless celebration. America, they contend, will be a far, far better place than we have ever known when a far smaller share of the population is white. The greater the racial, credal, cultural and ethnic diversity, the better the country. Yet, Americans of European descent, headed for minority status, provide 85-90% of all Republican votes in presidential elections. What Democrats are cheering portends the demographic death of the GOP.
Republicans are a more nationalist and populist party than they were in the Bush presidencies. But the Democratic Party has become a politically correct institution where Joe Biden is forced to explain stands that he took when he was a moderate Democratic senator from Delaware. His opposition to the forced busing of children from neighborhood schools into inner-city schools was attacked as racist. He had to apologize for his friendship with Southern senators like Jim Eastland and his role in the Clarence Thomas hearings. He has been made to confess for voting to authorize the 2003 war on Iraq. Biden is far to the left of where he used to be as a senator. Apparently, he has not moved far enough.
Even James Carville is castigating his own party’s candidates for talking about “reparations or any kind of goofy left-wing thing out there.” “It’s like we’re losing our damn minds,” said Carville.
Is Trump responsible for what Carville himself sees as an irrationality and irresponsibility taking on epidemic proportions inside the Democratic Party? Or has Trump’s success maddened Democrats into manifesting who they are and what they believe, and what may yet prevent them from being taken seriously as a party that can lead the nation?
We were divided long before Trump got here, and we will remain so long after he departs.
Republished with gracious permission from Mr. Buchanan (February 2020).
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The featured image is in the public domain, courtesy of Wikimedia Commons.