As President-elect Joe Biden prepares to take over the Oval Office in the new year, President Donald Trump has yet to concede the election officially. Instead, he has taken to Twitter to express his discontent with the election results.
Michael Steele, former lieutenant governor of Maryland (R), former chairman of the Republican National Committee, and host of "The Michael Steele Podcast," tells Inside the Issues the president is working through the fact that he lost the race, saying he's "lashing out."
"It's almost like a stage of grieving where you've got to go through the fact that you lost, the acceptance of that loss, and then, of course, all the ancillary feelings that come with that: anger, sadness, etc. and I think you see that playing out real-time with the president," Steele said. "He cannot accept the fact that he lost. This is a man who, two weeks before the election, talked about how he's never liked losing, he's not a loser, and it's all about his self-image and how he sees the storyline."
Steele announced he would be voting for former Vice President Joe Biden shortly before the election, writing in an op-ed for NBC News, "Rather than seeking to build on the legacy of the Republican Party's founders, of which Trump is surely ignorant, Trump has posited a single purpose for the GOP — the celebration of him."
The long-lasting effect Trump will have on the United States will change on January 20, as Joe Biden will be inaugurated as the 46th president of the United States, Steele said, and Trump will "be irrelevant to American politics and irrelevant to the political process going forward."
"His life on Twitter will change dramatically. Fewer people will care what he tweets. Fewer people will be entertained by it. The country will move on," he continued. Although some of his followers will continue to support him, Trump's existence in politics will change, Steele said.
"I think, for a lot of people, we will be less consumed by all things Trump, and that's healthy for the nation at this point," he said. "There's going to be a great deal of catharsis around the leveling of Donald Trump back to civilian life where, yes, he's the former president, but so what? He's a former president with a Twitter account, and he doesn't have the command and control over federal agencies. He can't make decisions on behalf of the American people, and what he says it's just the opinion of another former president. All of that goes to the healing that the country, I think, is seeking in the election results."
So what's next for the Republican Party? Steele said the big question is in the great battleground and the search for the next Ronald Reagan, who would unite the party once again.
"There are a lot of unresolved issues since Ronald Reagan left the leadership of the party and as president in 1989, and there's always been this grappling of who the next Reagan would be, that's part of the fight," he said. "There's always this grappling of what is republicanism, what is conservatism. Those are two very distinct things. Conservatism exists within republicanism. It is not the consumption of republicanism, which is what has been allowed to happen because remember, you have Republicans who live in the Northeast, Republicans in the west, Republicans in the Midwest, the South. Each of those has a very different take on, and branding, of the party, some of the philosophical tenets of the party."
"But there is this underlying thread that's interwoven around the ideas of freedom, free markets, individual liberties, etc. that mattered and how that was then applied to particular policies, well it depended on where you lived," he continued. "As a Northeastern Republican, a Mid-Atlantic Republican, our take on a lot of these big issues is very different than our friends in the South and certainly our friends on the West Coast. A California Republican is not a South Carolina Republican, it's not a New England Republican, nor an Iowa Republican and yet we all kind of exist under that same banner. Reagan was able to, sort of, knit very carefully all those intricate pieces together to talk about America and talk about the heritage of the party, etc. Well, without that sort of galvanizing leadership, you see what we get. We saw the deconstruction of that, to use a Trumpian term, during the 2016 campaign where Trump systematically took down those standard-bearers of that old Republican ethic."
Exit polls show President Trump saw an increase in support from Black and Latino voters to the surprise of many.
"You need to understand who these particular voters are and why they supported Donald Trump, particularly given, as you noted, the things that he has said about African Americans and Hispanics. The truth of the matter is, within each of those groups, certainly as an American man I have been in barbershops and have heard this conversation, there is a certain machismo that they like about Trump, the sort of, kind of in-your-face, there's a little bit of misogyny to it for sure, that appeals to certain men and that sort of cultural manly man kind of thing, which until they get home with their woman — that works in the barbershop, that doesn't necessarily work in the house," he said. "But there's appeal to that. So, that tells me it's not so much that these decisions were made along some philosophical line and some deeply held principled view on the economy."
Steele said these voters feel pushed up against an economic wall, where there's a shift happening from a labor-intensive economy to a gig economy, so those who work with their hands may feel like their jobs will be lost.
"And without completely, or to any degree, addressing that and showing them that this change is going to be a part of their life in a positive way, and most especially for their children and their children's children, they're going to hold on to what they got, you know? If you are a 22-year-old who is just starting in the fracking industry in Western Pennsylvania and you're getting signals that the incoming President Biden wants to do away with fracking, what has he just said to you? I want to eliminate your livelihood. Well, my daddy worked in this industry, and before that, he was in the oil business or petroleum business in some form. So you've got these generational links that need to be addressed and Trump has a hold on that conversation in the real way, which appeals to a lot of these black and brown men in a profound way."
"So, yeah, he got 18% of black men voting for him," continued Steele. "But it also says, when you look at the total number, well over 85%, 90% of the African American community did not vote for him, and that's something the party is going to have to address irrespective of a bump up in the black male vote or the Hispanic male vote."
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