Whether or not Donald Trump violated state or federal law in any of the four cases currently brought against him is up for debate.
What is not up for debate is that ever since he entered the political realm in 2015, the former reality show star has fundamentally changed the Republican party, for better and for worse.
The Benefits of Trump’s Tenure
Sometimes it takes a rabble-rouser like Trump to break up the calcification that grows around structures and systems that largely go unchecked. Many of the changes Trump initiated in the Republican party were needed. A lack of pretentiousness and a shattering of the establishment elite that penetrated the Washington, D.C. circle were a refreshing, and welcome revolution.
Trump also provided a sea change from a more traditional neocon perspective of the Republican party, returning focus to pressing domestic issues from a foreign policy agenda determined to promote democracy around the globe. Such sentiments gave rise to the freedom caucus – a group of three to four dozen Republicans in the House – that, like Trump, promoted “America First” policies and lobbied against endless wars.
I think all Republicans agree that democracy is a good idea. However, insisting the entire world embrace Western values isn’t. Particularly when many in our own country don’t agree with the values currently being promoted.
Reasonable people can disagree about the extent to which the United States promotes and supports democratic systems around the world. Not every Republican has to support the war in Ukraine, while there are legitimate geopolitical concerns and arguments as to why the U.S. should. These can be debated within the party.
However, some ideas should be non-negotiable for the Republican party.
The Non-Negotiables for a Conservative Culture
Many of the ideas that the new establishment of Republicans calls for are simply a return to a government as outlined in the Constitution. As Joshua Mitchell, author of the book American Awakening, stated in a recent podcast, “I think what [the Founding Fathers] put together is unheralded and I believe that – as far as I can tell – there is no problem that we have now that cannot be solved through normal Constitutional means. We don’t have to throw it out entirely.”
However, a return to Constitutional rule and a notion of limited government requires a very particular culture to assume the functions and duties of a society that American citizens, including Republicans in Congress, have been all too willing to pass along to the federal government.
It requires a culture that supports a moral code and judgment as outlined by a Christian understanding of right and wrong while simultaneously embracing the concepts of forgiveness and grace.
One that understands a traditional family unit – children raised with a mother and a father – not “birthing people” – is the best model to support a civilized society. Even if there are some exceptions to that arrangement.
An economy that, while promoting free markets, does not sacrifice people and principles in the name of corporate profit.
While some may call promoting a love of country and teaching children civic responsibility far right “propaganda,” such education helps young people understand why the American experiment is indeed an exceptional one and reinforces their responsibility to uphold it as they mature into adults.
A critical examination of American history is and should be welcome, but a rewriting of history, such as The 1619 Project promotes, is not.
Ultimately, Republicans must embrace the notion that in the grand arc of history, Western civilization is a net positive. It has produced not only some of the most brilliant minds and philosophies but also the most creative, resulting in grand beauty and a political order worth saving.
Can the Fissures Be Repaired
Both parties are experiencing fissures along traditional the traditional Democrat–Republican lines. Many on the left don’t agree with the overreaching progressive agenda that has been increasingly embraced by the Biden administration.
Many on the right are reluctant to endure another four years of chaos under Donald Trump, despite his positive impact on policy.
There has to be an alternative to the “burn it to the ground” extremism that both the far-left and the far-right embrace. Ultimately both are committed to destruction rather than preservation and renewal.
America needs to find a paradigm in which it takes responsibility for the sins and mistakes of its past without continuing to carry them into the future with a weight that is unbearable to shoulder.
The country must return to what Mitchell identifies as the “liberal politics of competence” as opposed to a neo-liberal universalism that treats nations and people as if they were all cut from the same cloth. The former embraces pluralism, the latter leads to totalitarianism.
Only then will proper solutions be found and the American project be saved.
It would be wonderful if this were the route Republicans would choose to commit to.
Jennifer Galardi is the politics and culture editor for 19FortyFive.com. She has a Master’s in Public Policy from Pepperdine University and produces and hosts the podcast Connection with conversations that address health, culture, politics and policy. In a previous life, she wrote for publications in the health, fitness, and nutrition space. In addition, her pieces have been published in the Epoch Times and Pepperdine Policy Review. You can follow her on Instagram and Twitter.