Trump’s “America First” mantra isn’t just about policy. It also pertains to political parties. The 45th President has never been shy of lambasting both sides of America’s two-party system; a concept derided by the nation’s founders, which has arguably wrought more damage than good.
Today, grassroots Republicans hold in higher esteem the non-interventionist or nationalist views of Robert Taft, and Pat Buchanan over the alternatives expounded by John McCain, Elliot Abrams, or George W. Bush.
Taft, Paul, and Buchanan gained cult followings with their respective runs for the Republican presidential nominations in 1940, 1948, 1992, 2008, and 2012. Still, they were ultimately beaten by establishment candidates who went on to lose in the general.
Look how the Republican base now reveres former U.S. Senator John McCain, for example, compared to a Paul or a Buchanan. The Washington D.C. press corps loved McCain. He was once seen as a bipartisan reformer, dubbed a “maverick,” and honored as a war hero despite proof emerging he was used as a propaganda pawn for the Vietcong. But in the age of Trump, McCain is a pariah, a warmonger, a backstabber, and widely reviled among the Republican base. He is honored only by Democrats because he was the type of Republican they could manipulate: a Republican more concerned with the prestige of his position than achieving conservative goals.
As a result of the America First shift catalyzed by Trump’s entry into politics, more rank-and-file Republicans are happy to embrace Democrats and liberals who show an independent streak and are willing to expose the excesses of the Left. Former Congresswoman and 2020 Democrat Presidential Candidate Tulsi Gabbard and current 2024 presidential contender Robert F. Kennedy Jr. have gained large right-wing followings despite holding many views that Republicans find abhorrent. Attitudes are changing drastically, in particular on the issue of foreign affairs and the intelligence community. This shift would have been considered unfathomable after the Sept. 11 attacks when these institutions were considered sacrosanct.
Going back to at least the administration of President John F. Kennedy, the permanent national security apparatus in Washington D.C. (the “Deep State”) has funded a series of interventions, revolutions, coups, overthrows, and other largely clandestine actions to create conflict throughout the globe. Some allies, such as former Iraqi dictator Saddam Hussein or Al Qaeda commander Osama Bin Laden, eventually become rivals, and their actions cost innocent American lives due to the blowback caused by these foreign policy decisions made in secret. There is never accountability for the failures caused by these decisions, and rarely are they even acknowledged.
As seen with the disclosures of the Afghanistan Papers, Pentagon officials are not shy about blatantly lying and deceiving the American and global public to keep their war machine going. Irrespective of any faults or ideological inconsistencies Trump may have had, he was a wrench in that machine. By asking questions and being skeptical of claims accepted as self-evident by career federal bureaucrats, Trump tore at the credibility of the established order. This has allowed more than fringe Republicans to identify this trillion-dollar scam at the heart of the Washington D.C. bureaucracy that has grown for decades to the point of becoming a leviathan, with easily preventable and convenient domestic terror attacks used to make permanent this slide into totalitarianism at home and abroad. America is far removed from the Constitutional Republic envisioned by its founders, and this reality is now etched into the minds of most GOP voters.
The Trump realignment made Republicans more willing to consider populist options and compromise that hurt the globalist establishment. After being betrayed by their own elected officials, ordinary Republicans find solace in left-wing politicians who refuse to buckle under the pressure of their faction’s orthodoxy and speak truth to power despite extreme pushback from their own political side. They support the courage of an RFK Jr. or a Gabbard who will buck their own party over the weaselly hacks who take the easy paychecks to spout conservative rhetoric they are likelier to see as agreeable. Trump has opened their eyes to make them desire an authentic politician, a living, breathing human being, as opposed to an automaton serving an agenda pushed by soulless higher-ups. This is part of a significant shift in the electorate that will persist many years beyond Trump and which could destroy partisanship and create a lasting America First movement — the crown jewel of Trump’s legacy.