Don't look now: Trump is uniting the GOP while Democrats remain divided
© Getty Images

For the last several years, analysts and pundits have debated about, argued over, and discussed a civil war brewing within the GOP.

According to the “experts,” the Republican Party was at risk of extinction because of infighting. At a quick glance, there were the Trump fanatics and the #NeverTrump crowd, and they couldn’t agree on anything. But upon closer inspection, the divide within the party appeared even deeper and more troubling. 

There were the neocons, the libertarians, the old school establishment-types, the Tea Partiers, and the religious wing of the party — and none of them were getting along. Instead of uniting on areas of common ground to beat Hillary ClintonHillary Diane Rodham ClintonDems make history, and other takeaways from Tuesday's primaries Establishment-backed Vukmir wins Wisconsin GOP Senate primary Ironworker and star of viral video wins Dem primary for Speaker Ryan's seat MORE, these groups spent much of the presidential election season bickering with one another.

The experts may have been right, and the Republican Party may have started to crumble … if Donald TrumpDonald John TrumpDems make history, and other takeaways from Tuesday's primaries Pawlenty loses comeback bid in Minnesota Establishment-backed Vukmir wins Wisconsin GOP Senate primary MORE hadn’t come along and won the election.   

While the media is bent on portraying Trump as a bombastic divider, he has actually been a great uniter of the Republican Party since his election.

It would have been easy for Trump to fill his administration with only his most loyal backers and surround himself with yes men. But Trump has done anything but that; in fact, Trump has been so aggressive in reaching out to other wings of the Republican Party that it has upset his own supporters at times.

No one was more vocal in their opposition to Trump than former Massachusetts Governor GOP presidential nominee Mitt Romney; but that didn’t stop Trump from meeting with Romney to discuss how the two may be able to work together.

South Carolina Governor Nikki Haley was also a vocal opponent of Trump; yet the president-elect had no qualms naming Haley UN Ambassador because of her track record of leadership and bringing people together.

Even Trump’s biggest enemies will admit that he is a man of action and a man of results. The president-elect is not a king, and he realizes that he must work with others to get things done. It seems that Trump wants to leave the past in the past, and work with all qualified Republicans to “Make America Great Again.”  

That is what leadership looks like. And it’s exactly what the Republican Party needed to become strong and united once again.

One symbolic gesture of Trump’s initiative to consolidate the GOP was when he announced, in the same press release, the appointment of Reince Priebus as chief of staff and Steve Bannon as senior counsel and chief strategist. The two men are to be “equal partners” in the White House.

As the former head of the Republican National Committee, Priebus is the embodiment of the traditional GOP. He has strong relationships in the establishment wing of the party and is no stranger to politics-as-usual in Washington, D.C. But Bannon, a grassroots populist who loathes the establishment GOP, couldn’t be more different.   

Appointing both men was Trump’s way of sending a clear message: he will work with all conservatives. And Trump’s extending an olive branch to his former Republican foes could have lasting effects on the GOP, strengthening and uniting the Party for future elections.

Ironically, the same pundits who spent years discussing infighting in the GOP are now silent on the deep division in the Democrat Party.  

In the wake of Hillary Clinton’s unexpected and embarrassing loss in November, it time for liberals to do some serious self-reflection. There is a prominent populist wing of the Democrat Party — including the millions of young people who supported Vermont Senator Bernie SandersBernard (Bernie) SandersDems make history, and other takeaways from Tuesday's primaries Ellison wins Minnesota AG primary amid late domestic violence allegations Ironworker and star of viral video wins Dem primary for Speaker Ryan's seat MORE for president — who were completely dismissed in the election.

Establishment Democrats mistreated Sanders, and then expected his supporters to fall in line and vote for Clinton. That assumption came at the ultimate cost. 

If Democrats ever want to take back the White House, they should look to the person they despise the most — Donald Trump — as an example of unification and party strength.

If liberals fail to recognize the division plaguing their party, they won’t return to power for many years to come.

Kristin Tate is a conservative columnist and author of the book "Government Gone Wild: How D.C. Politicians Are Taking You For a Ride And What You Can Do About It."

The views of Contributors are their own and are not the views of The Hill
Follow The Hill's Transition Tracker for the latest on nominations and appointments to the Donald Trump administration.