WASHINGTON — Republican lawmakers are passing voting restrictions to pacify right-wing activists still gripped by former President Donald J. Trump’s lie that a largely favorable election was rigged against them. G.O.P. leaders are lashing out in Trumpian fashion at businesses, baseball and the news media to appeal to many of the same conservatives and voters. And debates over the size and scope of government have been overshadowed by the sort of culture war clashes that the tabloid king relished.
This is the party Mr. Trump has remade.
As G.O.P. leaders and donors gather for a party retreat in Palm Beach this weekend, with a side trip to Mar-a-Lago for a reception with Mr. Trump on Saturday night, the former president’s pervasive influence in Republican circles has revealed a party thoroughly animated by a defeated incumbent — a bizarre turn of events in American politics.
Barred from Twitter, quietly disdained by many Republican officials and reduced to receiving supplicants in his tropical exile in Florida, Mr. Trump has found ways to exert an almost gravitational hold on a leaderless party just three months after the assault on the Capitol that his critics hoped would marginalize the man and taint his legacy.
His preference for engaging in red-meat political fights rather than governing and policymaking have left party leaders in a state of confusion over what they stand for, even when it comes to business, which was once the business of Republicanism. Yet his single term has made it vividly clear what the far right stands against — and how it intends to go about waging its fights.
quite literally, abandoned their traditional party platform last year to accommodate Mr. Trump, Republicans have organized themselves around opposition to the perceived excesses of the left and borrowed his scorched-earth tactics as they do battle. Senator Mitch McConnell, the Republican minority leader, excoriated businesses this week for siding with Democrats on G.O.P.-backed voting restrictions, only to backpedal after seeming to suggest he wanted corporations out of politics entirely.
essay. “Therefore, we must aggressively move the conversation back to the economic issues that unite our party and divide theirs.”
Longtime Republicans don’t much deny that. “Democrats have done the one thing I never thought could happen this quickly — they’ve caused Republicans to take their eyes off what divides us and made us set our eyes on the true opposition,” crowed Ralph Reed, a Republican strategist.
That may be on overly rosy assessment given that Mr. Trump is still hungry for payback against his intraparty critics, with a series of contentious primaries on deck and Democrats poised to reap the benefits of an economic recovery.
But there is no doubt that Republicans are rallying around a style of post-Trump politics that makes that prefix superfluous.