Cao: Trump is the creation of Republican politics

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Cao: Trump is the creation of Republican politics

Henry Cao, Columnist

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In the current election cycle, Donald Trump’s campaign more closely resembles a three-ring circus than a professional operation. Perhaps such a sideshow is the embarrassment the Republican Party deserves. After all, his ascension did not spring from the ether. Rather, his nativist rhetoric and pompous personality have appealed to poor and uneducated voters who have been pushed to the periphery of the Republican Party, according to a New York Times analysis. And the success of Trump’s sound and fury reflects a broad backlash by the Republican base against the Republican establishment.

The ongoing split of the Republican Party into a populist branch and an establishment branch is a result of the Republican Party’s hardline orthodoxy against Democratic agendas. Such a philosophy has emboldened the most radical members of the party, notably the Freedom Caucus. What’s more, this approach has caused a significant share of the Republican base to become disaffected with the establishment. This can be seen in Trump’s support.

When the Republicans seized the Senate in 2014, the Republican Party was suddenly burdened with the expectation of governing effectively. After witnessing the Republican Senators’ letter to the Ayatollah, multiple bills to defund Planned Parenthood and the fall of Speaker John Boehner, the public now has the impression the party is more contrarian than it is principled, and that the radicalism of fringe politicians is slowly spreading throughout the party.

The rancor against the Republican establishment has only intensified due to the presidential election cycle. Studies have shown that many Republican-leaning voters prefer political outsiders over experienced politicians. Donald Trump is at the forefront of this populist revolution, since he has no experience in public office and instead made his career as a real estate mogul.

Many Republican voters are eager to divorce themselves from the establishment. Trump supporters rally around him in the hope he will fight political correctness and “make America great again.” Uneducated, poor Republicans do not benefit from establishment policies such as the Trans-Pacific Partnership and tax cuts for the rich. Indeed, Trump’s populist ideas directly challenge the agenda the establishment has ineffectively promoted in Congress.

In light of the chaotic Republican primary, the general public should reflect on the broken system of contemporary politics: The measurement of one party’s success should not be at the detriment of the other party. Ironically, Trump voters view the establishment as too moderate. However, the establishment is deeply conservative, which stymies compromise and prevents any progress. Thus, the status quo remains and neither Republicans nor Democrats are satisfied.

The manifestation of voter discontent in the guise of Trump is a real threat to sensible politics. Had the Republican Party taken a more moderate approach to governing, Donald Trump may not have risen to such prominence. Nonetheless, it is incumbent on all voters to discover why politics has devolved to its current state. Voting against Trump will not eradicate his ideas or those who support them. The task of containing dangerous radicals like Trump includes making smart compromises and accepting the fact that voting for the Democrats is against the interest of certain voters. Trump, in short, means everyone, including Republicans, need to move more to the center.

Henry Cao is a Weinberg sophomore. He can be reached If you would like to respond publicly to this column, send a Letter to the Editor to

The views expressed in this piece do not necessarily reflect the views of all staff members of The Daily Northwestern.