After a decade of roller coasters, the Republican Party of the United States is barely recognized. President Bush’s compassionate conservatism, followed by relative moderates John McCain and Mitt Romney as presidential candidates, is now felt long ago. This is an example of how Romney was booed and booed in his own lecture, showing how far the party has gone from him. Last week, Congresswoman Liz Cheney, daughter of former Vice President Dick Cheney, was removed from her leadership role by her colleagues for challenging Trump, a strong sign that Republicans are continuing their harmful rhetoric of ” stolen elections “.
The current dominant force in the Republican Party remains the deeply divisive populism advocated by former President Donald Trump. As president, Trump went against all conventional electoral wisdom, including the demands of his predecessors to gain the support of minority groups and the middle classes. Instead, he based his campaign for power on an unscripted description that worked unexpectedly, defeating the challenged well-qualified but robotic Democrat Hillary Clinton in 2016.
Republicans briefly triumphed, but their political fortunes deteriorated rapidly and they lost the House of Representatives in 2018, before further defeats in the Senate and presidency. Trump had the opportunity, when he was elected, to consolidate control by managing the nation competently. He didn’t and has left his party in a torn state.
Trump has cursed the Republican Party in two ways. The first is about policies. He has dragged his party into the mud of pure populism with an endless war against political correctness, isolating and offending large strips of voters that Republicans would need to win elections. It allowed Trump to retain an impressively resilient basic vote, but at the expense of weakening U.S. democratic norms, exemplified by the crowd that stormed the U.S. Capitol on Jan. 6, which also turned off many swing voters.
The second problem is competition. The Trump administration was elected completely unprepared, with half-baked policy proposals mixed with mismanagement, a rapid rotation of high-ranking officials, and leaks and scandals that hindered any significant policy launches. Vacancies for critical leadership roles in government departments were left vacant and Trump’s “America First” nationalism argued with traditional allies who wanted international coordination on climate change and defense. It was before COVID-19 hit the world, highlighting the lack of basic administrative capacity, with immediate consequences in the lives of citizens. Without a sensible policy and a proven ability to govern, the Republicans ’path to the recovery of the White House now seems more distant than ever.
A self-confident Republican party would embrace anti-Trump rebels like Romney and Liz Cheney, but instead abandon them, while most politicians remain forced to approve of Trump. Trump’s denial that he lost the last election further impedes a rational analysis of how Republicans could be more electorally competitive, locking them into an echo chamber with a corrosive effect on effective policy formulation.
Perhaps the inspiration could come from across the Atlantic to another dress in the form of the UK Conservative Party, which has just won a successful local election campaign despite having been in power for eleven years. Conservatives, also known as Conservatives, have also suffered a lot of turmoil behind them, broken by divisions over Brexit. Within five years, the party has changed both leaders and politics, from the sleazy, fiscally prudent and relatively European David Cameron to the impertinent interregnum of Theresa May before settling for the great awakening and the commotion of Boris Johnson, who led the exit from the European Union.
Perceiving the evolution of the political landscape, the new Conservative party led by Johnson has reinvented itself, bouncing back after losing the majority in May 2017, with a large parliamentary majority in 2019. Now, despite a difficult year to control the pandemic , the party has secured a new parliamentary by-election victory from a former Labor stronghold, alongside hundreds of councilors in the last local elections.
Johnson did two things. In terms of politics, he had a clear position on Brexit, which negotiated a tougher line on leaving the EU and raised Brexit as a unifying moment, which resonated with many voters, exhausted by the political stalemate. He was also politically agile; while their opponents shouted because of Brexit, conservatives were busy parking their tanks across traditional Labor policy territory with growing spending commitments, advocating for sustainability issues and pouring billions of new funds into the National Health Service. (NHS). News from health publisher Nurses notes that historically left-leaning nurses are shifting to conservatives, in particular, should upset Labor, as it threatens the central vote of the main opposition party. Alongside popular policies, voters see a government capable of delivering, reinforced by the rapid implementation of vaccines.
Warnings remain for conservatives. They face more divided opposition than Republican Democrats and Conservatives will have to work hard to maintain their unsettling coalition of southern and northern supporters. Regardless of the cases, Republicans could learn from their political agility and inclusive narrative.
If Republicans hope to win the presidency again, they will have to broaden their perspective to appear capable of going beyond one-line slogans. This includes researching popular policies that Democrats follow, just as Conservatives do with Labor. Republican bases have no humor to share many thoughts with Democrats; therefore, studying a kinder face across the pond could provide a nicer staff to succeed in the election. If it helps Lincoln’s old party reduce its alarmist and sometimes embarrassing rhetoric, it will be better for his party, for the U.S., and perhaps even for the world.
The views expressed in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the editorial stance of Al Jazeera.