What are Republicans going to do after Donald Trump leaves office?

As Republicans head toward the 2020 election, questions have arisen over what the party will look after President TrumpDonald TrumpDemocrats, activists blast reported Trump DOJ effort to get journalists' phone records Arizona secretary of state gets security detail over death threats surrounding election audit Trump admin got phone records of WaPo reporters covering Russia probe: report MORE leaves office. Whether Republicans win and secure another four years in control of the White House or suffer a humiliating defeat at the hands of Democrats, one thing is certain. Donald Trump will not be around in politics forever. At some point, his grip on Republicans will be relinquished, and members of the Grand Old Party will be left to figure out what comes next.

What was once the party of Abraham Lincoln and Ronald Reagan now appears to be a shell of its former self. What is undeniable is that the Trump takeover of the Republican Party has been nothing short of historic. Gone are challenges to his inflammatory rhetoric. Lost are the voices of reason who could disagree with party leadership without finding themselves devoid of political support. What is left is a party in shambles unsure of what it will look like after the chaos of the Trump era.

Trump is a reflection of the Republican desire to win at all costs. This mentality may have afforded them the ability to appoint judges and pass massive tax cuts, but at what costs in the long term? Is winning really winning if it costs the soul of your party? Make no mistake, the Republican Party bowing to Trump is not without consequence. As demographics shift and lawmakers attempt to connect with a new generation of voters, Republicans will find themselves on the brink of a crisis. While Trump may be a short term solution, he has created a long term problem.


Republicans need to bring in minorities to avoid becoming a regional party, but these voters are completely turned off by the racist language emanating from the White House. What works on cable news does not translate to those who do not regularly consume conservative media. Polls also show millennial support for the president is low, which is not sustainable for the party. While Reagan may have ushered in a new generation of Republicans, Trump is bringing out a new generation of Democrats that may turn states like Texas blue for decades.

If Republicans have any hope of rebuilding their party and figuring out a path forward, it begins with abandoning Trump, not continuing their acts of surrender. Republicans like Jeff Sessions and Ted Cruz cannot allow themselves to be humiliated by his vicious taunts then seek support from those who allow them. A neutered Republican Party cannot be rebirthed if it lacks the political courage to find its backbone. Republicans must instead follow the path of principled public servants like Justin Amash. While I may disagree with him on policy substance, I have nothing but respect for his consistency in the face of political expediency.

The party of small government has now been overcome by nationalism and devoid of any guiding principles. That is not just bad for the future of the Republican Party, it is bad for the future of our democracy. Our democracy requires two strong parties built upon a foundation of ideas and principles. At this moment in history, the Republican Party has found itself strangled by a president who threatens its existence. As Herbert George Wells declared, “Once you lose yourself, you have two choices. Find the person you used to be, or lose that person completely.”

There are not many guarantees in politics, but Trump will not be president forever. For the sake of our democracy and the stability of our country, it is time for Republicans to consider what the world will look like after he leaves office. If the Republican Party wants to stand the test of time, it must avoid turning inward and instead become more inclusive. It must reflect our diversity of ideas and demographics. Should it choose to continue down this path, it will lose itself forever. The country will move on, with or without Republicans in power. The choice is theirs.

Michael Starr Hopkins is the founding partner of Northern Starr Strategies. He served on the Democratic presidential campaigns for Barack Obama, Hillary Clinton, and John Delaney. Follow him on Twitter @TheOnlyHonest.