The Republican Devolutionary War

Frank Islam & Ed Crego
13 min readMay 2, 2024
Image Credits: Tom de Boor, Adobe, Dreamstime, et al

I am a firm believer in the people. If given the truth they can be depended upon to meet any national crisis. The great point is to bring them the facts. Abraham Lincoln

“A foundation of our American way of life is our national respect for law.” —Dwight D. Eisenhower

Democracy is worth dying for, because it’s the most deeply honorable form of government ever devised by man. — Ronald Reagan

In 2024, there is a Republican Party in name only. The party of Abraham Lincoln, Dwight D. Eisenhower, and Ronald Reagan has disappeared. And those responsible citizens who believed in facts, the law, and our American democracy have disappeared from it.

The Party of Trump

The Republican Party has become the Party of Trump. The MAGA members of that party embrace and elevate lies, idolatry, and authoritarianism in order to wage a devolutionary war on their party and the governmental policies and practices of this nation.

We first referred to the Republican party as the Party of Trump in October 2017, when various opinion polls showed “that Donald Trump’s support among Republicans as a group in general is much higher than that of the Republican leadership.”

We continued to say:

Only time will tell what this means for the mid-term elections and the future of the Republican Party. What we can tell at this point in time is that to a greater rather than a lesser extent, the Republican Party today is the party of Trump

What we can tell today is that the Republican Party, as it was once known, no longer exists. It has devolved. That assessment may seem a bit harsh or over the top. But it is not just ours.

On March 6, in its editorial titled “Trump’s Conquest of the Republican Party,” the editorial board of the New York Times stated that the Republican Party:

…has become an organization whose goal is the election of one person at the expense of anything else, including integrity, principle, policy, and patriotism. As an individual, Mr. Trump has demonstrated a contempt for the Constitution and the rule of law that makes him unfit to hold office. But when an entire political party, particularly one of the two main parties in a country as powerful as the United States, turns into an instrument of that person and his most dangerous ideas, the damage affects everyone.

Trump achieved this conquest by merging what he had in mind with what was on the minds of what became his ardent MAGA supporters. We took an in-depth look at this in our three-part blog series on The Cancer Cult. As we explained in that series,

A cult is a group of people with extreme dedication to a certain leader and set of beliefs. The important elements of that definition are a “certain leader” and “a set of beliefs.”

In this instance, Trump is that certain leader embodying, magnifying, and legitimating a set of beliefs. Some of those beliefs are the beliefs of the members. The others are those of Trump himself. There is a reciprocity in this relationship that’s mutually beneficial to the cult specifically and harmful to society in general. In a phrase, this is a cult of personality and aligned personalities.

Over time, that mind control has spread from Trump and his MAGA supporters to many of the elected officials at the federal level.

David Brooks, in his piece for the New York Times titled “Trump came for their Party but Took Over Their Souls,” written in February after the House of Representatives defeated the immigration-Ukraine-Israel package, opined:

This wasn’t just about Republicans cynically bending their knee to Trump. Rather, I’m convinced that Trumpism now pervades the deepest recesses of their minds and governs their unconscious assumptions. Their fundamental mental instincts are no longer conservative, but Trumpian.

In addition to capturing the mind and the soul of the party, in 2024 Trump also took over its body. He did this by securing operational control of the Republican National Committee (RNC).

In early March his endorsed nominees, Michael Whatley of North Carolina and daughter-in-law Lara Trump, were elected chair and co-chair of the RNC. In mid-February, before she was elected as co-chair, Lara Trump told Rob Schmitt of Newsmax, “Every single penny will go to the №1 and the only job of the RNC. That is electing Donald J. Trump as president of the United States and saving this country.”

Whatley and Trump brought in Chris LaCivita, a senior campaign advisor to Trump, to be the new RNC chief of staff, and shortly thereafter 60 RNC staff were dismissed with some being asked to reapply for jobs. And Christina Bobb who, as Jesse Wegman of the New York Times reports, “…worked closely with top Trump advisers on the harebrained ‘fake electors’ scheme…” was named as the RNC’s senior counsel for election integrity.

Then, a few weeks after his team was running the RNC, Trump cut a fund-raising agreement with them. According to Shane Goldmacher and Maggie Haberman of the New York Times, that agreement ‘…directs a portion of donations to the political account he has used to pay his legal bills before any money goes to the party itself.”

Causes one to wonder whether “the number 1 and only job of the RNC is to get Donald J. Trump elected as President” or to pay “Donald J. Trump’s legal bills.”

The Country of Trump

Some people might not care if Donald Trump has captured, the mind, body, and soul of the Republican Party. Unfortunately, that is only the starting point for attempting to take over the mind, body, and soul of the United States of America and to convert it to the Country of Trump.

The plan for doing this at the federal level — and from the top down — is laid out in detail in the Project 2025/Presidential Transition Project. The goal of Project 2025, as stated on its website, is as follows:

It is not enough for conservatives to win elections. If we are going to rescue the country from the grip of the radical Left, we need both a governing agenda and the right people in place, ready to carry this agenda out on Day One of the next conservative Administration.

This is the goal of the 2025 Presidential Transition Project. The project will build on four pillars that will, collectively, pave the way for an effective conservative Administration

Those four pillars are:

  • A Policy Agenda — proposals for every major issue facing the country
  • A Personnel Database — a network across the country for conservatives
  • Training — by experts, in workshops, seminars, online videos, mentorship
  • A 180 Day Playbook — actions to bring relief from the Left’s devastating policies

Project 2025’s Policy Agenda pillar is built on the legacy of the Mandate for Leadership (The Mandate), a lengthy book published by the Heritage Foundation. Information on The Mandate states “This book is the product of more than 400 scholars and policy experts from across the conservative movement and around the country.”

In his New York Times article on The Mandate, Carlos Lozada notes that even though the book has not been endorsed by Trump, “It is an off-the-shelf governing plan for a leader who took office last time with no clear plan and no real ability to govern. This book attempts to supply him with both.”

Lozada goes on to observe:

“Mandate for Leadership,” which was edited by Paul Dans and Steven Groves of the Heritage Foundation, is not about anything as simplistic as being dictator for a day but about consolidating authority and eroding accountability for the long haul. It calls for a relentless politicizing of the federal government, with presidential appointees overpowering career officials at every turn and agencies and offices abolished on overtly ideological grounds. Though it assures readers that the president and his or her subordinates “must be committed to the Constitution and the rule of law,” it portrays the president as the personal embodiment of popular will and treats the law as an impediment to conservative governance. It elevates the role of religious beliefs in government affairs and regards the powers of Congress and the judiciary with dismissiveness.

Georgetown history professor Thomas Zimmer is much harsher and more critical in his Substack review of The Mandate. He concludes part one of his two-part commentary on it by declaring:

Unfortunately, this is not just a campaign speech, not just the abstract manifesto of a feverish mind. It comes with over 900 pages of concrete plans and a detailed strategy of how to take over and transform American government into a machine that serves only two purposes: autocratic revenge against the “woke” enemy — and the imposition of a reactionary vision for society against the will of the majority. From the perspective of multiracial, pluralistic democracy, “Project 2025” is not a promise, it is a threat.

The Will of Trump

Lozada refers to “popular will” in his piece and Zimmer refers to the “will of the majority” in his.

In Trump country, those wills don’t matter. That’s the case because for Donald J. Trump, there is only one will that matters. It is his personal will. If his will does not get Trump his way, he is willing to go to war in an attempt to get it.

Trump demonstrated this when he refused to accept his loss to Joe Biden in the 2020 presidential election. Instead, he had his professional advisors and political allies mount a campaign to change the election results and develop slates of alternative electors in the states which he lost.

When this didn’t work, Trump asked Vice President Mike Pence not to certify the election results, and summoned the members of his MAGA army to a rally on the Capitol mall in Washington on January 6 to try to prevent that certification.

In closing his remarks at that rally, then-President Trump incited his supporters to march to the U.S. Capitol, by stating:

I think one of our great achievements will be election security. Because nobody until I came along had any idea how corrupt our elections were.

And again, most people would stand there at 9 o’clock in the evening and say I want to thank you very much, and they go off to some other life. But I said something’s wrong here, something is really wrong, can’t have happened.

And we fight. We fight like hell. And if you don’t fight like hell, you’re not going to have a country anymore.

Our exciting adventures and boldest endeavors have not yet begun. My fellow Americans, for our movement, for our children, and for our beloved country.

And I say this despite all that’s happened. The best is yet to come.

So we’re going to, we’re going to walk down Pennsylvania Avenue. I love Pennsylvania Avenue. And we’re going to the Capitol, and we’re going to try and give.

The Democrats are hopeless — they never vote for anything. Not even one vote. But we’re going to try and give our Republicans, the weak ones because the strong ones don’t need any of our help. We’re going to try and give them the kind of pride and boldness that they need to take back our country.

The rest is history. The rally attendees went to the U.S. Capitol and, as a mob of rioters, stormed the Capitol building, launching a full-out assault and attack on everything and everyone there.

They did that because they wanted Donald Trump’s will to reign supreme. The price that hundreds of those rioters/insurrectionists/traitors have paid for exercising Trump’s will is some time behind bars. To date, Trump has paid no price at all, and he is exercising his will now in an attempt to reverse the tables for his mutinous acolytes.

At the opening of a Trump rally in Vandalia/Dayton Ohio on March 16, the announcer says “Please rise for the horribly and unfairly treated January 6 hostages.”

A recorded version of the national anthem is sung by some jailbirds who participated in the attempt to overthrow our federal government. Trump in his MAGA hat stands and salutes them as they sing.

When their unpatriotic version of the anthem is concluded, Trump refers to those January 6 traitors as “unbelievable patriots” and “hostages” and promises he will pardon all of them on day 1 when he is back in office as president of the United States.

In their piece for The Bulwark, conservatives Bill Kristol and Andrew Egger comment, “The promise to pardon is noteworthy.” Kristol and Egger say this because those who serve in Trump’s administration and “follow Trump’s wishes,” rather than the law, and the “paramilitary types,” who would ‘intimidate opponents and enforce his wishes and his will,” need not be afraid either. This is so because they will all receive presidential pardons.

Kristol and Egger are accurate in their assessment of the nature of Trump’s wishes and will. He articulates his will through the three R’s. That’s not reading, ‘riting, and ‘rithmetic. It is revenge, retaliation, and retribution.

Trump enunciated his commitment to retribution at the Conservative Political Action Conference held in Miami on March 4, 2023. At CPAC, Trump asserted: “In 2016, I declared, “I am your voice.” Today, I add: I am your warrior. I am your justice. And for those who have been wronged and betrayed, I am your retribution. I am your retribution.”

Trump also said, “This is the final battle. They know it, I know it, you know it, everybody knows it. This is it. Either they win or we win. And if they win, we no longer have a country.”

That was Trump the provocateur speaking to mobilize his army to go to war. In his Atlantic article written shortly after Trump’s CPAC battle call, Peter Wehner advised:

To understand the modern Republican Party, you must understand the intense sense of fear and grievance that drives so many of its voters, which has in turn given rise to a desire for retribution and revenge, for inflicting harm on Democrats, progressives, and other perceived enemies. Those negative emotions existed before Donald Trump ran for the presidency, but he tapped into them with astonishing skill.

In terms of retaliation, Trump has created “hit lists” to go after those who have opposed him during his presidency and since. Among those on those lists are well-known names such as Senator Mitch Romney (R-UT), who voted to impeach Trump, and former representatives Liz Cheney (R-MT) and Adam Kinzinger (R-IL), who served on the House Select Committee to investigate the January 6 Attack on the United States Capitol.

The Opposition to Trump

We don’t know whether they are on a Trump hit list, but there are numerous senior level people who served in the Trump administration who have spoken out against him.

At the top of that list is Trump’s Vice President Mike Pence, who told Martha MacCallum of Fox News on March 15, “Donald Trump is pursuing and articulating an agenda that is at odds with the conservative agenda that we governed on during our four years and that is why I cannot in good conscience endorse Donald Trump in this campaign.”

In October 2023, Zachary Wolf of CNN published a list of two dozen “former aides and top officials” who have turned away from Trump over the past few years. Pence was first on that list. Three others and the quotes Wolf provides from them in his piece follow:

  • Former Secretary of Defense, Mark Esper: “I think he’s unfit for office…He puts himself before country. His actions are all about him and not about country. And then, of course, I believe he has integrity and character issues as well.”
  • Former Chief of Staff, John Kelly: “A person that has nothing but contempt for our democratic institutions, our constitution, and the rule of law. There is nothing more that can be said. God help us.
  • Former Communications Director, Anthony Scaramucci: “He is the domestic terrorist of the 21st century.”

On March 12, Rep. Ken Buck (R-CO), a member of the Freedom Caucus, stated that he would be vacating his seat in Congress on March 22. In November, Buck had announced that he would not be seeking re-election.

Amy Wang and Patrick Svitek, in their Washington Post article on Buck’s departure, reported that in November one of the reasons Buck cited for leaving was “disappointment that many fellow Republicans continue to push the lie that the 2020 presidential election was stolen.” They quote Buck as saying:

“Our nation is on a collision course with reality, and a steadfast commitment to truth, even uncomfortable truths is the only way forward. Too many Republican leaders are lying to America.”

Wang and Svitek write that Buck was also disturbed by Republicans downplaying the nature of the January 6, 2021 insurrection and the need for prosecuting the insurrectionists, quoting him as saying:

“These insidious narratives breed widespread cynicism and erode Americans’ confidence in the rule of law. It is impossible for the Republican Party to confront our problems and offer a course for the future while being obsessively fixated on retribution and vengeance for contrived injustices of the past.”

Former Representative Buck’s words are powerful. They describe the devolutionary path the party has taken in Congress and across the nation.

As we noted at the outset of this post, the Republican Party exists now in name only. It is now the Party of Trump, which now includes, among others: MAGA loyalists, conservative right-wing extremists, those who feel they are outsiders or victims, evangelical Christians, traditional Republicans who have not left the Republican Party because of Trump, and would hold their nose and vote for him rather than for Joe Biden or any Democratic candidate for president.

Sady, this alliance is no small group. As we noted in an earlier blog posted before this year’s Super Tuesday elections on March 5:

Trump has entwined his personal interests with the personal interests of tens of millions of other Americans. Those are his MAGA supporters. Add to them the tens of millions of Republicans who have stayed in the party and now accept the truth of the Big Lie and endorse Trump.

The United States of America has been successful for nearly 250 years by pursuing an evolutionary path that moves this country upward, forward, and outward. The illiberal Trump populist alliance is charting a devolutionary path that would move this great nation downward, backward, and inward. The devolutionary path would turn our constitutional democracy upside down and inside out.

This could be avoided if Trump is not re-elected President on November 5, 2024. We say could be because there is no guarantee that Trump and his minions will accept a defeat in this year’s presidential election.

If they do not, and there is a repeat — but more radical — performance of what transpired after Trump’s defeat on November 3, 2020, the devolutionary path and war to transform the Republican party and the policies and practices of this country might become an actual war fought in the streets of cities and states across this nation.

There is still time to avoid this nightmare scenario. But it is running out.

Time is not on our side. But, as concerned citizens, we should be at each other’s sides working to ensure that this worst-case possibility does not become the reality.

Originally published by the Frank Islam Institute for 21st Century Citizenship. For more information on what 21st century citizenship entails, and to see exemplars from around the world, please visit our website.

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Frank Islam & Ed Crego

Frank Islam is an entrepreneur, investor and philanthropist. Ed Crego is a management consultant. Both are leaders of the 21st century citizenship movement.