Did we see the two prospects for the next Republican nomination doing their auditions in public?
The Post Donald Trump continues?
Or a step back what the party was with a flirt with diversity?
Political conventions are usually as much about a party’s next nominee as they are about its current flag-bearer. The Republican convention on Monday night featured a glimpse of the coming fight to define the post-Trump world: Will it look and sound more like Donald Trump Jr. or Nikki Haley?
The need for definition is especially urgent for a party when it is led by someone as historically unique as Donald Trump. He’s fashioned the GOP into a personality cult built around him rather than as a vessel to pursue a shared set of principles or ideas. This by now common observation about the historic transformation of the Republican Party was made starkly clear this week when the GOP reaffirmed a previous decision to abandon the creation of a policy platform — one of the main activities for a political convention — and instead declared “[T]hat the Republican Party has and will continue to enthusiastically support the President’s America-first agenda.”
When a party is built around a person, the aftermath can be especially messy when he exits the scene. Few of the crucial debates about the meaning of Trumpism can be considered settled by Republicans if Trump’s appeal to voters is mostly about his theatrics, celebrity and stoking of negative partisanship — opposition to the other party rather than support of your own. Is Trump’s appeal about race (and racism)? Is it about the GOP’s mistaken belief that its working-class voters were passionate supporters of laissez-faire economics when they actually wanted government help? Or something else entirely?….