Herbert, J (2021) Governing in Conflict or Cooperation? Trump’s Populism and the Republican Party. Taiwan Journal of Democracy, Volume (No. 1). 89 - 117 (28). ISSN 1815-7238

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Trump’s election in 2016 generated an unusual political alignment, shackling a fervently populist presidency to an establishment political party in Congress. Trump appears to have emerged victorious from this conflict, as elected Republicans appeared to tolerate many of his populist impulses. Many explain this behavior through a “fear” argument, suggesting that Trump bullied senior Republicans, using rank-and-file Republican support and his communication skills to quell their resistance. This essay challenges that argument. Instead, it examines the nature of the relationship between a political party and a populist presidency in a deeply partisan era, developing Sidney Milkis’s work on the “New American Party System.” Three arenas-policy, institutional, and electoral-of conflict or cooperation between presidency and party are identified as are the incentives of party and presidency in these arenas. Rather than the model of conflict and presidential dominance underpinning the “fear” argument, these facilitate the identification of an alternative coalitional transactional model. The essay outlines a brief application of this framework, of three arenas and coalition transactions, to the Trump case study. This application explains why many Republicans were willing to tolerate Trump’s leadership. The clashes expected of the Madisonian system, and potentially exaggerated by the presence of a populist in the White House, are moderated by shared partisanship, hence acceptance of Trump’s behavior by Republicans. This analysis presents worrying evidence of the U.S. political system’s vulnerability to populist excesses in an era of heightened partisanship, as members of the president’s party refuse to deploy their powers in defense of the overall system by prioritizing calculations based in partisan conflict.

Item Type: Article
Additional Information: The final version of this article and all relevant information related to it can be found online at; http://www.tfd.org.tw/opencms/english/publication/journal/data/Journal0034.html
Subjects: J Political Science > JA Political science (General)
J Political Science > JC Political theory
J Political Science > JK Political institutions (United States)
Divisions: Faculty of Humanities and Social Sciences > School of Social, Political and Global Studies
Related URLs:
Depositing User: Symplectic
Date Deposited: 27 Jul 2021 10:39
Last Modified: 05 Jul 2022 01:30
URI: https://eprints.keele.ac.uk/id/eprint/9830

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