Donald Trump’s hostile takeover of the Republican Party is officially now complete.
The former president’s impressive string of victories in the first major primaries since he left office proves beyond any doubt that his grip on the party is unrivaled, and the reach of his influence within the party is near limitless. No Republican since at least Ronald Reagan has done more to reshape the party into his own image.
The Grand Old Party in America today has gotten its first tattoo — and it’s of Mr. Trump’s smiling face.
Of course, the political media is so dumb they are still debating irrelevant details among far-flung primaries that got minimal attention. But then again, they are never dumber than when they are handicapping Republican voters.
They giddily point to a race here and there where Mr. Trump’s endorsed candidate lost. Yet Mr. Trump has notched victory in the vast, overwhelming majority of Republican primaries.
Mr. Trump has won huge races, such as J.D. Vance’s stinging rebuke of establishment Republicans in Ohio. And he has chalked up monster wins, such as Ted Budd’s 35-point evisceration of the former Republican governor of North Carolina.
What’s even more devastating about the muscle Mr. Trump has flexed in these Republican primaries so far is that he — as he has been throughout his entire career as a Washington “politician” — is a party of one. He rode into town in a one-horse posse and very much remains a man of his own.
Most presidents have huge apparatuses — a national party committee, allied political leaders, friendly government agencies, coalitions in Congress — that serve first and foremost the interests of their party’s president. (We can debate whether this is a good thing or a bad thing — but either way it has been the reality of both parties in Washington for a very long time.) But Mr. Trump had none of that.
In fact, Republican leaders in Congress worked to undercut Mr. Trump at every turn. And, famously, the entire swamp of federal agencies sabotaged him every step of the way — a true insurrection.
As a result, Mr. Trump was left to do all his own dirty work that normally gets handled by others in Washington. He had to hand-pick his own allies, personally banish his enemies within the party and beat the living tar out of the rest at the ballot box in primaries. And all the while, watch his back for traitors.
Mr. Trump had to be president of the United States while also serving as his own political enforcer.
Of course, Mr. Trump has earned the undying loyalty of plenty of Republican politicians in Washington. But he earned it not due to the party, but due to the wild popularity of his platform. And his platform was his and his alone. If anything, his platform ran deeply counter to the long-held platform of the established Republican Party.
And that is where so many of the “political experts” in the stupid media are missing the big picture about Mr. Trump’s complete takeover of the Republican Party. Even in races where Mr. Trump’s candidate did not win — or may not have won — Mr. Trump has still won.
In the Pennsylvania Senate primary, for example, Mr. Trump’s endorsed candidate did not pull out a clear victory. The race remains too close to call. At best, Mr. Trump’s candidate will have eked out a narrow win and possibly even a narrow loss.
But here is the thing everybody is missing: The Pennsylvania Senate race was not really a referendum on Mr. Trump’s grip on the party. That’s because going into Tuesday’s primary, polling suggested it was a three-way tie among three candidates who were all running on Mr. Trump’s platform!
If the Pennsylvania primary was some kind of referendum, then more than 87% of the state’s GOP voters pulled the lever for candidates running on Mr. Trump’s America First platform.
One final bitter pill for establishment Republicans: Primaries across the country reveal that Republican participation is off the charts, far outstripping Democrat participation. In blue states, red states and purple states, Republican voters are engaged and turning out.
Whatever Mr. Trump decides to do in 2024, the issues he forced into the Republican Party are here to stay and voters are thrilled.
• Charles Hurt is the opinion editor at The Washington Times.