Donald Trump was elected as a Republican. But since his election, he has been very critical of many Republicans both in his tweeting and in interviews. And recently, he has gotten rid of Sean Spicer and Reince Priebus from his White House staff -- the two members of his team with the closest ties to Republicans in Congress and GOP donors.
Tim Alberta at Politico wonders if Trump is consciously separating himself from both parties -- and becoming a "party of one". Here is some of what he has written:
Trump trampled Priebus from Day One, sending out press secretary Sean Spicer, a longtime Preibus ally, to deliver a demonstrably false rant about the inaugural crowd size. Trump resented the idea that his chief of staff was there to tame him, and resented even more the notion that Priebus was the conduit to a Republican Party he had conquered.
But Priebus was the conduit. By firing him, Trump has severed a critical connection to his own party—not simply to major donors and GOP congressional leaders, but to the unruly, broader constellation of conservative-affiliated organizations and individuals that Priebus had spent five years corralling. . . .
There is no question, however, that Priebus’ absence will echo loudest on Capitol Hill—particularly in the speaker’s office. Ryan’s team had heard whispers for months of Priebus’ possible departure, but the news was nonetheless a dagger, especially on the heels of a health care defeat and at the dawn of tax-reform season. . . .
This no longer seems accidental. Trump has, since taking office, consistently referred to Republicans as though he is not one himself—it's invariably “they” or “them.” Unlike past presidents of his party, Trump entered the White House with few personal relationships with prominent Republicans: donors, lobbyists, party activists, politicians. This liberated him to say whatever he pleased as a candidate, and, by firing Priebus, Trump might feel similarly liberated. The fear now, among Republicans in his administration and on Capitol Hill, is that Trump will turn against the party, waging rhetorical warfare against a straw-man GOP whom he blames for the legislative failures and swamp-stained inertia that has bedeviled his young presidency. It would represent a new, harsher type of triangulation, turning his base against the politicians of his own party that they elected.
Things have not yet escalated to that point. But some, including officials in his own administration, took the dismissal of Priebus as a signal that Trump is willing to go rogue against the GOP. Only a day after announcing Kelly as his new chief of staff, the president let loose on Twitter, calling out Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell for not changing the Senate’s filibuster rules and saying Republicans “look like fools” for not doing so. He also tweeted that Democrats are “laughing at” the GOP. In a final taunt, Trump tweeted that Republican senators would be “total quitters” if they move on from health care following last week’s failed repeal vote.
More and more, Trump talks as though there are Democrats and Republicans—and him, a party of one. If unchecked, this poses an existential threat to the GOP.