Alabama's Roy Moore proves Trumpism is more powerful than Donald Trump

Alabama's Roy Moore proves Trumpism is more powerful than Donald Trump
© Getty

If you followed the Republican primary race for Alabama’s seat in the U.S. Senate, you would think that President TrumpDonald John TrumpTrump knocks BuzzFeed over Cohen report, points to Russia dossier DNC says it was targeted by Russian hackers after fall midterms BuzzFeed stands by Cohen report: Mueller should 'make clear what he's disputing' MORE received a rebuke in the blood-red state. After all, the president campaigned for Luther StrangeLuther Johnson StrangeDomestic influence campaigns borrow from Russia’s playbook Overnight Defense: Senate bucks Trump with Yemen war vote, resolution calling crown prince 'responsible' for Khashoggi killing | House briefing on Saudi Arabia fails to move needle | Inhofe casts doubt on Space Force Five things to watch in Mississippi Senate race MORE, the incumbent appointed to fill Attorney General Jeff SessionsJefferson (Jeff) Beauregard SessionsOvernight Health Care: Thousands more migrant children may have been separated | Senate rejects bill to permanently ban federal funds for abortion | Women's March to lobby for 'Medicare for All' Acting AG Whitaker's wife defends him in lengthy email to journalist Watchdog: Thousands more migrant children separated from parents than previously known MORE’ former seat. Strange, who also received strong endorsements from Mitch McConnellAddison (Mitch) Mitchell McConnellTSA agents protest government shutdown at Pittsburgh airport The case for Russia sanctions Pompeo planning to meet with Pat Roberts amid 2020 Senate speculation MORE and Paul RyanPaul Davis RyanAEI names Robert Doar as new president GOP can't excommunicate King and ignore Trump playing to white supremacy and racism House vote fails to quell storm surrounding Steve King MORE, lost to former state Supreme Court Justice Roy Moore.  

In the face of a Trump-Ryan-McConnell backed opponent who outspent him by a 4-1 margin, Moore still won. He was victorious because he ran on the same populist platform that Trump did last year — the platform that millions turned out and voted for, but still haven’t gotten.

Moore’s victory suggests that “Trumpism” is more powerful than Trump himself.  

Why didn’t Trump back Moore? Let’s parse it out: The president was in a bind, likely feeling compelled to lend a hand to Sessions’ friend, Strange. There’s some credit in Trump’s loyalty. Moore said that the president didn’t support him because he didn’t know him. Perhaps figures like Mitch McConnell convinced the president that Strange was the key to the listless Republican efforts in Congress. Perhaps Trump wanted a bridge to establishment efforts on Capitol Hill.

Regardless, Trump bet on the wrong horse — and his voters made clear that they supported the president’s original agenda, even if he is losing sight of it.

Moore electrified the GOP base, bringing in support from the core of the party’s populist wing. Sarah Palin, Sebastian Gorka, Ben CarsonBenjamin (Ben) Solomon CarsonTop Trump official resigned over White House plan to withhold disaster-relief funds from Puerto Rico: report Trump taps Commerce watchdog to be new Interior inspector general DOJ probing whether Zinke lied to Interior investigators: report MORE, Louie GohmertLouis (Louie) Buller GohmertThe Memo: Trump veers between hard-liner, dealmaker on shutdown Gohmert to 'Fox & Friends': Extend shutdown for wall 'until hell freezes over' DHS secretary: Mary and Joseph would have been eligible for asylum MORE, and most importantly, Steve Bannon, threw their lot in with Moore. To them, the former justice is a loud proponent of America First principles. Just the fact that the establishment figures dutifully lined up behind Strange was a neon sign to primary voters for who not to support.

After all, why support a stalled legislative agenda? An agenda that is going to compromise away any chance of the big ticket items Trump won on? Blocking funding for the wall? Considering amnesty for illegal immigrants? One that will leave ObamaCare in place because the fight in Congress is too “tough?” Balderdash.

President Trump has moved perilously close to the sun on wings of fake bipartisanship. Any hold of former Bush administration officials or Generals McMaster and Kelly is steering the White House further and further away from the administration’s original intent. Candidate Trump became a vehicle for this populist fervor; he gained in the polls when other candidates would have withered under media pressure.

Trump’s stature grew with Republican primary voters because they understood his unique threat to the GOP Establishment. He promised a way out of endless wars in the Middle East, bank bailouts, and millions of illegal immigrants flouting the law. His frankness was a refreshing and needed change from previous feckless Republican leaders. Steve Bannon and his team understood this. Many Democrats feared the moment President Trump successfully united these ideas with a firm approach in Congress. Fortunately for Nancy Pelosi and Chuck SchumerCharles (Chuck) Ellis SchumerTrump blasts Pelosi for wanting to leave country during shutdown The Senate should host the State of the Union Dem senators debate whether to retweet Cardi B video criticizing Trump over shutdown MORE, this hasn’t yet come to pass.

People around the nation didn’t turn out in droves last November to vote for Donald Trump, the man — they voted for Trumpism. They voted for the repeal and replacement of ObamaCare, lower taxes and a border wall. And if Trump turns his back on these policies and becomes like the Establishment GOP that his own voters detest, he will lose his base.  

I haven’t thrown in the towel on the Trump presidency. But without Bannon, Gorka, Miller, and others, Trump risks becoming part of the same-old, same-old leadership he was elected to combat. Trump ended the Bush and Clinton dynasties and won even as figures such as Mitt Romney fought him at every step. Nature abhors a vacuum — and he is just one or two steps away from vacating leadership at the highest level.

Joining the establishment would effectively end any hope of positive change over the next three years. One has to wonder how candidate Trump would rate the president today?

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." She was recently named one of NewsMax's "30 Most Influential Republicans Under 30." Follow her on Twitter @KristinBTate.