The Evolution of the GOP: Part II

Photo Source: Realtime Politics 

It’s September 2004. The Republican National Convention is being held in New York this year. President George W. Bush stands proudly on stage representing the Bush dynasty, proud to accept the nomination of his party for a second term. Another term representing the party his father spent so much of his life building up.

Fast forward 12 Years.

It’s February 2016. The Republican Primary’s next debate is being held in South Carolina. Former President George W. Bush is being taken down on stage by the Primary’s frontrunner, as the Bush dynasty looks on perplexed. It’s the latest in a series of attacks on the Bush family that have helped propel Donald Trump to the front of the race.

How could this be?

The Vox video posted in the first part of this story last week explains the way the Republican base has changed. Growing resentment towards GOP leaders who many felt were not doing enough to stop the Obama agenda fueled the fire that has led to large support for Donald Trump.

But that can’t be it, can it? Resentment for President Obama and disappointment in leadership is what caused this riff in the nation’s second oldest political party?

Well, maybe that was it. And in the crossfire was the Bush dynasty. Taking from the cues of Trump, many in his base of supporters feel the last Republican President gave them President Obama, and the country has never been the same since.


Former Florida Governor Jeb Bush and Donald Trump spar at the Republican Primary Debate in South Carolina on February 13, 2016.

Photo Source: USA Today

“They lied. They said there were weapons of mass destruction; there were none,” Trump exclaimed at the February 13th debate in South Carolina. Trump continued to criticize the former President for the Invasion of Iraq in 2003; something that no other Republican on stage dared do.

“I am sick and tired of him going after my family,” responded former Florida Governor Jeb Bush who had enough of Trump calling out his brother, even his mother Barbara, on the campaign trail.

Florida Senator Marco Rubio was quick to defend President Bush that night, saying he was glad it was Bush in office on September 11th 2001 instead of Al Gore. He believed Bush kept the nation safe. But Trump wasn’t having it.

“The World Trade Center came down during the reign of George Bush. He kept us safe? That is not safe.” The business man was met with boos from the crowd, but his poll numbers soared. He won the South Carolina Primary, and eventually the Republican nomination.

It was, and remains one of the defining moments of the campaign. It demonstrates how Trump took on the system. He completely dismantled the Bush dynasty as the leaders of the party. Only days later, Jeb Bush would withdraw from the race after failing to defend his brother George.

The Bush dynasty, for the first time since at least 1980, did not attend the Republican National Convention this summer. Is there no place for Bush politics in the Republican Party anymore?

This state of the party has left many of the party’s leaders confused and dismayed. People like Lindsey Graham and John Kasich. Even 2012’s Republican running mates Mitt Romney and Speaker of the House Paul Ryan. They cannot stand Trump. Even if they have swallowed the pill and “endorsed him,” it was in an attempt to keep the party from splitting.

But it’s too late. The Republican Party is split.

On one side you have the Trump Republicans. People like Sarah Palin, Newt Gingrich, Chris Christie and Jeff Sessions. They are bold and brash. They are seen as warriors who represent the “silent majority” that has been left behind by President Obama and the failed GOP leadership.

On the other side you have those other Republicans – the Ryan Republicans. They tend to be diplomatic, strong on policy and committed to their cause. They stand for commonsense conservatism; the small government policies of the Reagan Revolution.


Speaker of the House Paul Ryan pays his respects to Nancy Reagan following her death on March 6, 2016.

Photo Source: CBS News

Speaker Ryan is the highest elected Republican in the country. Behind Vice-President Biden, next in line for the Presidency. From the moment it became clear Trump was going to be the Party’s nominee, Ryan said “he was just not ready yet” with respect to supporting the New York businessman.

Though he stayed on as the chairman of the Republican National Convention this summer, he made it clear he was there simply for party unity. He was giving this Trump thing his best shot, while doing his best to avoid any direct contact with him at all.

They’ve shared phone calls, meetings and press conferences, but Trump and Ryan are clearly not on the same page.

At this point with so little time left until the election, this party split is irreparable. It will likely help hand Clinton the Presidency. All Speaker Ryan can do is try to hold on to Republican majorities in Congress.

If successful, this will help Ryan lead the charge for directing the future of the Republican Party. Hopefully, it can be salvaged, and the Bush dynasty will return at 2020’s Republican National Convention.


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