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Anti-Trump “conservatives” such as the Lincoln Project, former Rep. Justin Amash, and more recently Rep. Liz Cheney all have something in common. They almost always attack the president’s tone or personal actions and almost never his administration’s actions and policies. This isn’t an accident. It is because in many cases they do not share Trump’s policy preferences, but those policies are far more popular with voters than theirs are.

On issues such as global trade, aggressive opposition to China, ending foreign wars, growing American manufacturing, securing the border, and using government to fight the culture wars, Trump has transformed the Republican Party. Trump is not a Chamber of Commerce Republican; in fact, the Chamber denounced him this week and threatened donations to pro-Trump Republicans. Like most things, this decision was all about money and power, not about any dedication to democracy.

The hope for this small but very influential group of Republicans and former Republicans over the last four years has been that if conservative voters come to dislike Trump, they will also stop liking his policies. In fact, many are blunt about the fact that they think most of his voters are too stupid to even know what his policies are. That is wrong, and it’s why their past efforts to wrest back Republican voters have failed and why this one will too.

There are, of course, voters in the thrall of Trump’s cult of personality, just as there were under Obama. But I have talked to a lot of Trump voters all over the country in the past several years, and most of them take a transactional view of Trump. They know he can be petty and vindictive, but they also know he has achieved wins on their issues — the ones listed above, not the Chamber of Commerce issues — that would have been impossible for the GOP to achieve before Trump.

What exactly constitutes Trump’s political philosophy is hotly debated, with some people arguing he has none. But it’s actually very simple. Trump echoes almost exactly the 1990s politics of Ross Perot, Pat Buchanan, and the Reform Party. From Perot, he takes his skepticism on global trade, immigration, and foreign wars. From Buchanan, he borrows a unique and fearless willingness to fight against political correctness. These issues have always had a big constituency, just not previously one big enough to compete with the Democrats and Republicans. Now they are the Republicans.

No Republican is going to have success running on sweetheart trade deals with China, more wars, and open borders. Culturally, GOP voters now demand leaders who call for active use of government power to fight against the excesses of transgenderism, leaders who refuse to sit by as their kids are called racist by their fifth-grade teachers.

The establishment GOP wants to go back to a time when voters who hold Trump’s positions dutifully voted for them because their own positions had no hope of winning, but Trump changed that forever. They know they can win now, and they certainly know that they win Republican primaries. There is a reckoning that the Republican Party needs, but it’s not the one most pundits think it is, and it has little to do with Trump.

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This reckoning is all about policies, and it is Liz Cheney and the Chamber that have the most ceding of ground to do. They are the ones who must make concessions on trade and foreign policy. They are the ones who must push back more forcefully against political correctness and new, divisive interpretations of racism. They must realize that the GOP is better off letting college-educated suburbanites, once their bread and butter, drift to Democrats in favor of the new, more diverse working-class party the populists are developing.

For better or worse, the Republicans are now a bottom-up rather than a top-down party. Working-class voters, who felt powerless for decades as both parties sent their jobs and children overseas with little benefit to their own conditions, aren’t going back to the farm. The challenge for the Republicans is to appeal to that base and see it continue to grow into new broader demographics.

In some sense, Trump did stage a coup — not last week, but five years ago as he launched his bid for the White House. In 2000, he nearly ran as the Reform Party candidate. That would likely have been a mistake. What he eventually did 15 years later was much smarter; he effectively turned the GOP into the Reform Party. That isn’t going to change no matter how much the establishment hopes for it.

They must decide if they can bend and stay in the conservative coalition or if their efforts are better off on the other side as a moderating voice. Either way, they are not getting the Republican Party they knew and loved back any time soon. And for once, that is good for both the GOP and its voters.

David Marcus is the Federalist’s New York Correspondent. Follow him on Twitter, @BlueBoxDave.



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Convicted fundraiser who tried to work his way into Biden’s inner circle sentenced to prison

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Amajor Democratic bundler, who raised large sums for Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton and consorted with Joe Biden, was sentenced to 12 years in prison for what prosecutors said was a “mercenary” political influence scheme.

Imaad Zuberi, a Californian businessman was sentenced Thursday for schemes to funnel foreign money into U.S. political campaigns, then take millions of dollars for himself.

The Los Angeles Times reported that U.S. Assistant Attorney Daniel J. O’Brien said Zuberi was “purely a mercenary, funneling money to whomever he believed would do his bidding.”

Among the many unsealed court records, Zuberi was seen photographed with Joe Biden and Barack Obama when they were Vice President and President. He was also pictured with former President Bill Clinton and former presidential nominee, Hillary Clinton. He took pictures with former Republican Rep. Paul Ryan when he was speaker of the House as well as the late Sen. John McCain of Arizona.

Also included in the Times report was a hacked email chain released on WikiLeaks. Hillary Clinton’s campaign manager Robby Mook messaged colleagues saying, “I’m OK taking the money and dealing with any attacks.” Jennifer Palmieri responded saying, “Take the money!”

He also attended Hillary Clinton’s election night party in New York City in 2016 as well as serving as a co-chair of The Trump Presidential Inauguration Committee.

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Zuberi made more than $950,000 in unlawful donations to the political committees of Obama, Clinton, McCain and others. Zuberi’s activities extended as far as a recent attempt to work his way into the Biden circle, according to Politico.  

In addition to the money he made, Zuberi also raised $270,000 for Hillary Clinton and $1.3 million for President Obama.

Zuberi, 50, pleaded guilty to a “three-count information charging with violating the Foreign Agents Registration Act (FARA)” for making false statements on a FARA filing as well as tax evasion and illegal contributions to political campaigns. He also pleaded guilty in a separate case earlier in June 2020 to a count of obstruction of justice.

“Zuberi turned acting as an unregistered foreign agent into a business enterprise,” Assistant Attorney General for National Secretary John C. Demers said in a Department of Justice news release.

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Cruz responds to pictures of him on Mexico flight, with Texas struggling from deadly winter storm

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Texas GOP Sen. Ted Cruz confirmed Thursday that he flew earlier this week to Mexico with family members, following the emergence of pictures appearing to show him in an airplane cabin and at a check-in counter, as fellow residents to recover from a deadly winter storm.

Cruz said in a statement that he accompanied his daughters on a flight Wednesday night to Mexico because they had the week off with school canceled.

“Wanting to be a good dad,” said Cruz, who also stated he is returning to Texas on Thursday afternoon.

The storms has been connected to at least seven deaths in Texas and knocked out power to as many as 2.5 million residents. The number of residents without electricity as of Thursday morning was down to less than 1 million, officials said.  

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“My staff and I are in constant communication with state and local leaders to get to the bottom of what happened in Texas,” Cruz also said. “We want our power back, our water on, and our homes warm.”

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South Carolina House passes bill that would prohibit most abortions if a fetal heartbeat is detected

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The South Carolina House of Representatives on Wednesday voted 79-35 to pass legislation that would prohibit most abortions. 

The bill must pass through a procedural vote in the House on Thursday prior to heading to GOP Gov. Henry McMaster who has indicated that he will sign it, according to the Associated Press. Two Republicans voted against the legislation while two Democrats voted for it. The state Senate passed the measure last month. 

The bill requires doctors to carry out an ultrasound to check for a fetal heartbeat and if a heartbeat is identified an abortion can only be performed in certain circumstances.

The legislation would not penalize a woman for obtaining an unlawful abortion, though the individual responsible for performing the abortion could face consequences.

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The outlet reported that other states have approved similar or even more stringent abortion prohibitions which could be implemented if the Supreme Court throws out the landmark 1973 Roe v. Wade decision. All of the other states’ abortion bans are currently entangled by court challenges and if the South Carolina bill is approved it will likely face litigation that prevents it from going into effect, according to the AP.

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