One of the significant mysteries of contemporary American politics is Republicans’ willingness to stick with President Donald J. Trump (R-Florida).
Incredibly, some Republicans once hostile to Trump; such as U.S. Senator Ted Cruz (R-Texas), stand behind the president. Moreover, Trump faced no serious primary challenges despite his unpopularity.
So why have Republicans; who cannot seem to agree on anything, unite behind Donald J. Trump Sr.? Here a few possible reasons for the Grand Old Party’s (GOP) fealty to the Donald:
Trump has been a Surprisingly Effective President
First, Trump has been a surprisingly effective president. For example, the President implemented much of the Republicans’ regulatory agenda.
Notably, The Trump administration is reversing 100 environmental rules, The New York Times claims. Additionally, Trump slashed the size of two national monuments, a step even President George W. Bush (R-Texas) feared to take.
Trump has appointed more judges to the U.S. Court of Appeals than any president for the past 60 years, The Brookings Institution notes. In fact, Trump has appointed 51 appeals court justices and filled 28% or over one-fourth of appeals court seats.
Moreover, Trump has appointed two U.S. Supreme Court justices; one over stiff Democratic opposition. Hence, even the left-wing Guardian calls Trump’s judicial appoints: “a revolution to create a new conservative America.”
Trump is a Useful Asset for Republicans
Therefore Trump is a surprisingly effective President who has been loyal to the conservative agenda. In fact, I think Trump has been more loyal to conservatism than the supposedly conservative George W. Bush (R-Texas).
One reason for this loyalty could be that Trump is a weak and unpopular president who understands he needs the loyalty and unity of the party. Consequently, groups such as big business, cultural conservatives, Christians, and libertarians have more influence over Trump than a traditional President.
Hence, Trump is a useful asset for a variety of groups within the GOP. Therefore, Republican loyalty to Trump is utilitarian and not based on any liking or admiration for the President.
Republican donors back Trump
Trump is a very effective fundraiser who attracts big money from large donors.
The Washington Post credits Trump with attracting a fresh crop of big-money donors. Moreover, The WashPost claims Trump’s money machine is driving record sums to the Republican National Committee.
Thus, GOP candidates who need money will tolerate Trump because they need donations. In addition, those candidates fear they will not receive donations if they buck Trump or criticize him.
Importantly, both veteran GOP donors and first-givers are quick to open their checkbooks for Trump. For example, The Washington Post claims 220 big donors have given $21 million to pro-Trump organizations.
Hence Republicans who want money for reelection or campaigning have a powerful incentive to back Trump. However, the money could dry up if Trump goes down.
I predict the correlation between Trump and money will prompt a discussion about campaign finance reform and the GOP’s position on Citizens United among conservatives. In particular, many cultural conservatives will wonder if money in politics threatens the things they value.
No Politician wants to sabotage his or her party’s presidential nominee
No American politician wants to sabotage his or her party’s presidential nominee.
For example, U.S. Senator Bernie Sanders (I-Vermont) made a fast and very public effort to demonstrate his support for presumptive Democratic nominee Joe Biden (D-Delaware). Bernie fears he will lose all influence with the Democrats if he hurts Biden’s campaign.
Likewise, no Republican wants to hurt or criticize Trump. The fear is voters will blame them if Trump loses in November.
Why Republicans will Turn on Trump
Thus, many Republicans will keep their opinions of Trump to themselves until November. However, I predict many prominent Republicans will quickly emerge as Trump critics after the election.
To explain, criticizing Trump will create political risk after the election. Trump will either be a term-limited President; who cannot seek reelection, or a failed President candidate. Criticizing either of those creatures carries no risk in American politics.
Moreover, many Republicans will try to establish themselves as either an alternative to Trump or an heir to Trump for the 2024 presidential campaign. An effortless way to achieve those goals and attract free media attention is to attack Trump.
Republicans back Trump because he is Effective
I think the reasons above and not Trump’s popularity with the Republican base explain the GOP’s loyalty to the Donald.
However, that loyalty is shallow and based only Trump’s ability to deliver results; including judicial appointments, campaign donations, and policies. If Trump’s ability to deliver results ends, Republicans will dump him fast.
All Trump critics need to understand that Trump is an effective President. Even if you hate some of Trump’s policies; which I do, you must admit Trump has effectively delivered some things Republicans want. In the final analysis, Trump’s effectiveness explains why the Republicans support the Donald.