Where does the GOP go from here?

Photo credit: Joshua Kim

By Genesis Larin | Assistant News Editor

The Republican party experienced a big win Tuesday Nov. 8 by securing the majority in the House of Representatives, the Senate and the presidency. This will be third time that Republicans have controlled the House and Senate and had a Republican president, the last being in 2003 under George W. Bush, according to politifact.com. However, questions still loom over the party’s future.

The 2016 election brought to light a divisiveness within the Republican party through Donald Trump’s campaign. Many of Trump’s stances on policies such as free trade and social security strayed from the traditional, conservative view of the party. Trump supporters also did not entirely fit the standard Republican mold.

Dr. Patrick Flavin, associate professor of the department of political science, said there have always been divisions within the party, but it was brought to an extreme during this election.

“I think it is pointed to the fact that sizable group of folks that identify as Republican don’t necessarily share some of the policy positions of Republican leaders in Congress,” Flavin said. “If I had to point to one thing that defines a Trump supporter [it] is less to do with policy and more with an identity in terms of what his candidacy represents, and sort of the policies are secondary.”

In addition, Trump’s campaign moved in a different direction from where the Republican party hoped to go. The GOP released a book shortly after the 2012 election outlining the ways in which Republicans can grow and improve as a party. One approach was being more inclusive with minority groups, specifically Hispanics. However, Trump’s negative rhetoric against multiple minority groups in his early campaign undercut the trajectory the GOP hoped to have with such groups.

Although Republicans secured a triple crown win on Tuesday, their approach to campaigning as well as which groups they target will change because of the emergence of people who identify as Republicans, but do not align with traditional Republican views. For the party, it may become difficult to sympathize with Hispanic voters while trying to appease voters similar to avid Trump supporters, according to Flavin.

“It would be tough to function as a party that doesn’t at least make some minimal outreach to minority groups, given the demographic,” Flavin said.

Given the different views on policy that people who affiliate with the Republican party have, the GOP will face questions about its identity in relation to policy issues.

While some may see this divide as a threat to the success of the party, others see this as an opportunity for overall political growth.

Longview senior Marivious Allen, co-chairman of Baylor College Republicans, said that [the American people] are trying to move forward as a nation and from political labels.

“I’m tired of being Democrat. I’m tired of being Republican. I just want to be American,” Allen said. “We just have to sit down and listen to the other side. We can’t just keep screaming at each other.”

There are many options the GOP could choose from in response to the different viewpoints of subsections within the party. However, it is difficult to predict the GOP’s next steps post-election, according to Flavin.

“I don’t even know if I have a prediction. I don’t think anyone really knows,” Flavin said. “Republicans are in a tough spot. It is a challenge to hold all those groups together.”