George Will: GOP has become a 'cult' of Trump

Conservative columnist and author George Will on Wednesday said that the GOP has become a "cult" of President TrumpDonald John TrumpConway defends herself against Hatch Act allegations amid threat of subpoena How to defuse Gulf tensions and avoid war with Iran Trump says 'stubborn child' Fed 'blew it' by not cutting rates MORE, attributing the shift to an "absence of ideas."

"It has become a cult," Will said on MSNBC after being asked whether the Republican Party has become the party of Trump.

"It has become a cult because of an absence of ideas. Because they have jettisoned the ideas for years, decades, all the 20th century almost. Conservatives said we're for free trade. Trump said, 'By the way, you're not anymore.' And they said, 'OK, we're not for free trade anymore.' Or they pretend to be."

ADVERTISEMENT

Will went on to describe what he explored in his new book, "The Conservative Sensibility," which was released Tuesday. 

"What I've done with this book is try to say conservatism has an enormously long and distinguished pedigree of ideas," he said. "It has a momentum into the future given by these ideas. And they did not go away, and they have not been refuted by the 45th president."

The comments served as a contrast to remarks Will made on the subject last year. While speaking on HBO's "Real Time with Bill MaherWilliam (Bill) MaherMaher mocks 2020 Democrats, implores Oprah to run: She is only 'sure-thing winner' Maher: 'Very hard' to win in 2020 if Democrats run on 'reparations and concentration camps' Bill Maher: Buttigieg a 'little too young' to be president MORE," Will said that the GOP wasn't becoming a cult of Trump because a "cult implies misguided if sincere worship."

"This is fear," Will said. "They’re not worshipful. They are invertebrates. They are frightened."

Asked on Wednesday if he thought there was a 2020 candidate who would be better for conservatism than Trump, Will responded that all the Democratic candidates would be better as long as there was a GOP-controlled Senate.

"Because a Republican Senate would virtually block all legislative change," he said. "And it would take the Republican Party away from its current identification with someone who is in temperament and in most policies not conservative."

He later knocked 2020 Democratic candidates for spending so much time talking about policies "they know are not going to happen."

Will, a longtime political commentator, has repeatedly criticized how the Republican Party has acted with Trump as president.

He implored Americans to vote against Republicans during the 2018 midterm elections, saying that Trump's "zero tolerance policy" at the southern border provided "fresh if redundant evidence for the principle by which" independents and moderate Republicans should vote.

"The principle: The congressional Republican caucuses must be substantially reduced," he argued.