Conservatives on Trump: ‘This is a new era’
A new era, a new Republican administration, and a new conservative movement in the United States.
That’s how the New York Times described Trump’s election.
But this was a different era.
The Republican Party had gone through a few significant shifts over the past eight years, and now it was back on the right track.
A few of the key players in the GOP were once again on the conservative fringe: the Koch brothers and Mike Huckabee, the former Arkansas governor.
But Trump’s victory was a triumph of sorts for the party’s core conservative wing, and an opening for new voices.
The Republicans will now have a new president in January and an even more important legislative task in 2018.
In this interview with the Atlantic’s Charles Gaba, I discuss the significance of this new Trump era and the broader political climate in the country, as well as some of the challenges and opportunities ahead.
The Atlantic: Can you talk about how this election was an important turning point for Republicans?
What was the message you heard?
Sarah Palin, former vice-presidential candidate: The message of Donald Trump was the Republicans are in a crisis.
They have lost their control over the economy.
The Supreme Court has been hijacked by liberals.
And the Affordable Care Act has been gutted.
The party had been in the minority since Reagan took office in 1981, and Republicans were going through a tough time.
And this was the first time in a long time that they were actually in the majority.
I think there was a sense that they had lost control of the party, that they weren’t taking on the president of the United State and the Democrats, who were the party of Ronald Reagan.
And I think Trump was a powerful voice to bring them back to reality.
That is to say, he brought a message that, “I’m the one who can fix this,” and he did that with great success.
The other message was that the Republicans had to change.
He was telling people that, for many people, the GOP was just not for them, that the GOP is just for the rich, that this is about people who are living off the government, not just working.
So it was an emotional message, and I think it resonated with people.
But the message was really very much that the Republican Party needed to change, because the president they had for the past 40 years had been the Republican president, who had presided over an economic crisis.
And we had this president who had overseen a tax increase and a health care bill that would cost a trillion dollars and hurt millions of Americans.
And people felt that they really wanted something different.
So there was no way the Republicans could continue to govern the way they had done for 40 years.
And that is why I think the election was such a pivotal moment for the Republican party.
Gaba: What does it mean for the country to be in a Trump era?
Sarah, former governor: Well, first of all, there was an opportunity for the GOP to reclaim its lost ground, and the Republicans did have a chance to do that.
The president-elect had campaigned on a platform of cutting taxes, of making the economy stronger.
And if that had been enacted, he would have been able to do just about anything.
He would have had a great opportunity to put a stamp of approval on the GOP, to take a huge step forward in the party.
The economy was actually doing pretty well.
We had a very strong job market.
We were able to create more jobs than we had ever had before.
But it was the tax increase, the Affordable Health Care Act, that really drove the whole economy to the brink.
And then the president-Elect said, “You know what?
I don’t think that’s going to happen.
I’m not going to do this.
I will leave it up to Congress.”
He really took that opportunity to say he was not going back to Washington, D.C. And so he put together a plan that was going to create good jobs, create a strong economy, but it was going only to benefit the wealthiest Americans, and that was the point that was really a turning point in the race.
I was really proud of my team.
We really did not give up.
I had the best group of people in the state of Nevada.
We won, and we were so confident that we were going to win.
We kept saying, “We are going to make it happen.”
And we were successful, and then, over the next eight years in terms of the policies we had to put in place to achieve that, we got it done.
Gabra: What was it like for the Trump administration to actually implement those policies?
Sarah: They actually worked.
I mean, the economy, in the first four months of this administration, grew by 4.3 percent.
But you have to understand that we had a president who was very conservative.
He said, if you’re going to be a conservative, then