How Trump Changed the GOP

It’s hard to think of two American presidents with less in common than Calvin Coolidge and Donald Trump. For one thing, Coolidge held a variety of public offices, from Massachusetts governor to vice president, before assuming office on Aug. 2, 1923. Mr. Trump had no government or military experience before his inauguration in 2017.

Coolidge, moreover, was a budget hawk who never met a line item he didn’t want to cut. Mr. Trump presided over record peacetime deficits even before federal spending took a quantum leap during the coronavirus pandemic. Coolidge was also a man of few words. Trump is not.

Yet these personal differences obscure important political similarities. Both Coolidge and Mr. Trump staked their presidencies on voter satisfaction with broadly shared prosperity. Both supported restricting immigration into the United States. Both wanted to protect American industry from foreign competition. Both sought to avoid overseas entanglements.

Mr. Trump’s views now dominate the Republican Party. For anyone who grew up with the GOP of Ronald Reagan, the two Bushes and John McCain, this can be strange and bewildering. But in many respects, it’s a return to the principles of the 1920s, of Coolidge and his predecessor Warren Harding. Read more…

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