|The Party will be fine. Different, but fine...|
But along the way, this army of political ground troops, trained and honed by Rush Limbaugh, Glenn Beck, Fox News and the fever swamps of right wing media, began to notice that despite all the love and promises lavished upon them by the Republican Party, they kept losing. They were losing on immigration, on civil rights, on marriage equality, on environmental regulations. They were voting for a party that was damaging them economically in exchange for a return to 1950s social norms, and they kept getting nothing out of the deal. The Republicans thought of these people as 'their' voters, but what they didn't realize is that their loyalty to the Party was tenuous at best. What they wanted was a political organization that would use its power to advance their social issues, and they really didn't care if it cost the wealthy some income and businesses some profits.
The stood by in rising frustration as the party establishment replaced their tea party firebrands with first John McCain and then with Mitt Romney. They knew what they wanted, they just didn't know how to get it. And then along came Donald Trump. Northern, often somewhat liberal billionaire blowhard, he could clearly see who made up the Republican Party, and he spoke to them. He addressed their fear of the other, their anger at the shifting norms of a modern, diverse culture. He used the same coarse language of racial and tribal insults they used - no longer coded 'dog whistles', but he just said back to them what they KNEW to be true. And now, as a result, the party has the leaders and the donors, but Donald Trump has the voters.
So now people are looking at this civil war between the traditional Republicans and the movement conservatives they courted for years, but never married, and they tell us the this will 'destroy' the party. And that's silly - the party has been a dysfunctional marriage of convenience for decades, and Trump is in the process of putting it back together again. No matter what happens in the 2016 election cycle, the GOP is never going to be the same. They are going to have to follow Trump's lead, defining a kind of conservative populism that actually attempts to deliver what the voting base wants, even if it costs them some of the Chamber of Commerce 1%. The Republican Party will exist - stronger than ever, as it moves at long last in the direction of its base voters. The message will have to evolve, and the emphasis will have to change. When they take power, they will still cut taxes and regulations, but they will also have to follow through on the red-meat promises them made to their voters.
This may not be a good thing for America - but it is an undeniable win for the American conservative voter.