Home 2024 Elections Former VA Lt. Gov. Bill Bolling (R): Thanks to the “Tea Party”...

Former VA Lt. Gov. Bill Bolling (R): Thanks to the “Tea Party” and Trump, “The Republican Party As We Knew It No Longer Exists”

"...and that leaves many traditional Republicans feeling like they no longer have a political home"


by former Virginia Lt. Gov Bill Bolling – a conservative Republican by any reasonable metric


This is a very insightful article. The Republican Party as we knew it prior to 2016 no longer [exists].

The Republican Party started changing in 2009 with the advent of the Tea Party and the subsequent Tea Party takeover of the GOP.

I experienced that first hand in 2013 when the Tea Party took over the State Central Committee of the Republican Party of Virginia.

The Tea Party had three major impacts on the Republican Party:

First, it drove the GOP farther to the right.

Second, it generated an intolerance for more traditional Republicans that did not toe the Tea Party line, and

Third, it produced a more negative and mean spirited approach to politics and policy.

These were not positive developments for the GOP or the democratic process.

But the Tea Party’s impact on the GOP pailed in comparison to the impact of Donald Trump and the MAGA movement in 2016.

Trump’s dogmatic, take no prisoners attitude resonated with many Tea Party Republicans, and it heightened the combative approach Trump supporters adopted.

But Trump had another impact on the GOP. He changed its focus from being a traditional, conservative party to a populist party.

Trump’s style and focus energized the Tea Party base of the Republican Party, although it left many traditional Republicans wondering what had happened to the party of Reagan.

Trump’s populism also appealed to many blue collar voters who had traditionally voted for Democrats. That’s why Trump was able to win in states like Pennsylvania, Michigan and Wisconsin in 2016.

Even today, notwithstanding his many challenges, recent polls suggest that Trump’s rhetoric, combined with the unpopularity of President Biden, could be appealing to other demographic groups, including some Hispanic and Black voters.

All this has redefined the Republican Party. It is no longer a party of traditional, conservative values and a positive, problem solving spirit.

Today’s GOP is better described as a combative, nationalistic, populist party with conservative tendencies.

In political science we call this a political party realignment. It is not the first such realignment we have seen, and it likely won’t be the last.

Whether this realignment is successful will be revealed in November.

Whether this realignment is permanent will depend on where the GOP goes after Trump.

But the writer of this column hit the nail on the head – the Republican Party as we knew it no longer exists; and that leaves many traditional Republicans feeling like they no longer have a political home.


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