John Daniel Davidson of the Federalist ponders the popular debate today about Donald Trump’s continuing influence on Republican politics.

The corporate press is awash in articles speculating about the future of the Republican Party after Donald Trump. Will it purge pro-Trump elements and return to some semblance of its pre-2016 form, or double down on Trumpism and Trump, defending him even in the face of a major electoral loss and a Senate impeachment trial?

Most such articles entirely misunderstand what’s going on with the GOP and how to think about Trump’s takeover of the party. One of the worst was just published in The Atlantic, written by Chris Hayes of MSNBC under the absurd headline, “The Republican Party Is Radicalizing Against Democracy.”

I hate to respond to anything published in The Atlantic these days, much less anything written by Hayes, but his meandering take is so slyly but profoundly backwards it must meet a response. The thrust of his argument is that Republicans have given up on policy fights of the past and are instead motivated today by “a set of resentments (often intensely gendered and racialized) about who will run the country.” …

… Trump won the Republican nomination by exposing and exploiting this rift in the GOP. By siding with the voters on issues they care about over and against the donor class, Trump was also able to bring in new voters to the party and win the presidency.

In so doing, he pointed the way forward for the GOP to become a populist conservative party—unapologetically patriotic and pro-American, yes, but also willing to use the power of the federal government to help ordinary people rather than always serve special interests. That his time in office saw more victories for special interests (corporate tax cuts, deregulation) than ordinary Americans is a testament to the power of the donor class and its sway over the GOP establishment in D.C.