Nothing like Donald Trump has ever hit a major American political party: A blow-dried celebrity gleefully smashing one modern Republican certainty after the other. As he defies his own party on tax orthodoxy, on healthcare and on bending a knee to Roger Ailes, he’s exposed the GOP establishment as virtually powerless over its own nominating process.
His rise has now created a split so deep that it’s not clear how the party is going to recover. Some conservatives are trying to crush his candidacy, others are finally embracing him, and they’re all lobbing grenades at each other. So is this the end of the GOP as we know it? And what’s next?
National Interest editor Jacob Heilbrunn sees Trump’s disruption as just the reboot the party needs; Republican strategist Rick Wilson sees a possible “murder-suicide” between Trump and Cruz that opens the door for moderates. Former Senate operative Jim Manley sees a party civil war that will sow chaos far beyond the GOP.
Here, for Politico Magazine, 12 political gurus put their minds to the most unexpectedly urgent big-picture question in American politics.