How Trumpism Fractured the GOP

Bad marriages usually lead to ugly divorces, and that’s where the GOP is heading.

After Donald Trump secured the Republican nomination in 2016, the word went forth on the right: It’s a binary choice. You’re either for Hillary or you’re for Trump. I never agreed with this reasoning, but in a two-party system the claim was defensible. The peculiar thing is that even after he was elected, the “binary choice” bullying never went away; it just changed from “Hillary or Trump” to “for Trump or against him.”

There were left-wing and right-wing versions of this all-or-nothing mentality, the former requiring total resistance to all things Trump, the latter total support. But it was the right-wing version that probably cost Trump the election. And it’s now threatening to tear apart the GOP.

On cable TV, talk radio and right-wing web platforms that dedicated themselves to round-the-clock Trump support, Trump’s minor successes were celebrated as unprecedented victories. His major successes were offered as proof of the president’s almost superhuman qualities. His failures were usually explained in one of two ways. They were either proof of his four-dimensional chess master genius—just wait, this is part of his master plan!—or evidence that powerful, sinister forces were undermining him: the “deep state,” the establishment, the “fake news” media, the cultural Marxists, the military-industrial complex, the “never Trump” fifth columnists or a combination thereof.

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