Eugene Robinson has an interesting opinion piece in WaPo titled “How Donald Trump destroyed the Republican Party in 2015”, as if it is a fait accompli. He does soften that, saying “An entity called the GOP will survive — but can never be the same.”
His point is that Trump has exploited the resentments and fears that have been so carefully cultivated and used by the Republican establishment to keep the base in line. However, the GOP action has never matched their rhetoric. Not on immigration, on abortion, on gay marriage, on terrorism, even on whether Obama was born on American soil. As Robinson puts it “Trump has given voice to the ugliness and anger that the party spent years encouraging and exploiting. He let the cat out of the bag, and it’s hungry.”
Bottom line? One of two things will happen:
The party might nominate Trump, in which case the establishment will have lost all control. Or party leaders might somehow find a way to defeat him, in which case they will have lost the allegiance of much of the base. In either event, the GOP we once knew is irredeemably a thing of the past.