Donald Trump, a president without a party

Donald Trump, a president without a party, by Gerald Seib.

Increasingly, Donald Trump is a president without a party. With virtually no Republican votes to spare in the Senate, where his agenda hangs in the balance, he has nonetheless become estranged from two key figures in his own party. First it was John McCain of Arizona, over his defiance of the president on health care. Next it was Bob Corker of Tennessee, who feuded with the president in a remarkable weekend of exchanged insults. …

Now, Mr Trump’s once and perhaps current political guru, Steve Bannon, has set out to attack much of the rest of the Republican caucus in the Senate. He’s also gunning for the entire GOP congressional leadership, with which the president is himself increasingly disillusioned. …

Mr Trump has tried to adjust to this growing estrangement from leaders of his own party by opening the door to co-operation with Democrats on immigration and health care. …

In the long run … Mr Trump would like to lead, and Mr Bannon would like to create, a Republican Party different from the one that exists. It would be a party moulded in the Trump image: nationalist, sceptical of immigration and trade agreements, dubious about the virtues of diplomacy and international negotiations, with economic strategies skewed to help workers in traditional American industries. .

After all, Mr Trump has said on several occasions — most notably at a conservative conference in February — that he wants the GOP to be the party “of the American worker.”

There are three problems with that vision, though. First, that party doesn’t exist today. The current version of the GOP was built largely by merging the interests of the business community with the agenda of social conservatives. Neither of those groups would win top billing in the vision for a new, Trump-inspired party.

The second problem is that it isn’t at all clear that such a new Republican Party would, in fact, be a majority party. …

The third problem is that, while waiting for that Republican Party to emerge, Mr Trump confronts the job of governing today.

hat-tip Stephen Neil