Historian predicts more extreme GOP ‘smash-mouth partisanship’ as candidates try to ‘out-Trump’ the former president

The extremism of Donald Trump may soon appear tame in comparison to the next generation of Republicans, a historian explained in an analysis for CNN.

Princeton University Prof. Julian Zelizer, author of the forthcoming book The Presidency of Donald J. Trump: A First Historical Assessment, wrote his analysis for CNN.

“Former President Donald Trump might get out-Trumped. As the campaign season accelerates, Trump has thrown his weight behind several Republican candidates. The point is not only to shape the electoral playing field but to offer clear evidence he still calls the shots within the GOP if he ends up running for reelection in 2024,” Zelizer wrote. “Thus far, his endorsements have had mixed results.”

He then turned his attention to the GOP primary for U.S. Senate in Pennsylvania, where Kathy Barnette is surging against former hedge fund manager David McCormick and Dr. Mehmet Oz, who has Trump’s endorsement.

“Barnette has won the support of major conservative organizations such as the Club for Growth, an anti-tax group that sees in the Black conservative Republican a bright star for the party. When Barnette lost the race to represent Pennsylvania’s 4th district by 19 percentage points in 2020, she refused to concede, and still hasn’t. She used that loss to stoke baseless claims of voter fraud, gaining enough steam to attract figures on the right like MyPillow CEO Mike Lindell,” Zelizer noted.

He explained how Trump may be on the losing end of a trend in the GOP that has existed for most of his adult life.

“This is a phenomenon that has shaped the conservative movement since the 1970s. With each generation, a new brand of right-wing firebrand has emerged to define the moment, only to find themselves cast aside by up-and-comers who embrace an even more extreme form of smash-mouth partisanship and right-wing ideological worldview,” he explained. “This has been the story of a party that keeps moving further right, with centrists generally failing to rein in the GOP (with notable exceptions like George H.W. Bush).”

He charted the course of the GOP from Richard Nixon to Ronald Reagan to Newt Gingrich and on to Sarah Palin and Donald Trump.

“The Tea Party eventually morphed into the Freedom Caucus and became the most powerful force on the Hill,” he explained. “So it should come as no shock that in 2022, we are seeing a crop of candidates who will start to cast the former president as tame. They will eventually blame him for being too comfortable with the status quo and uninterested in shaking up the political ‘establishment.'”

Read the full analysis.