The future of the Republicans

Conor Kelly (TheLorian)

What will happen to the Grand Old Party? It is a question that many Americans are now struggling to answer. With the loss of the Senate and the Presidency, Republicans face uncomfortable questions about their caucus and how they can get back into power. After the storming of the capitol, Republicans are faced with a difficult position. Just five days after the capitol’s storming, 74 percent of Americans said that the democracy was under threat, 56 said that they held Trump responsible for the riot, and 52 percent of Americans believed that the President should be removed. After his presidency has ended, Trump is the first president in American history to face impeachment twice. For a party that refused to establish a new platform and tied itself to Trump, that end could be devastating. But it is far from guaranteed.

To be clear, Republicans are doing this because of a fear of being primaried. While most Americans disapprove of the previous President, it is those within his party that serve to undermine the GOP’s ability to chose its path forward. Eighty-seven percent of Republicans approve of the former President, despite his inflammatory rhetoric, suggesting that the party will remain loyal to his style.

Even so, it is unlikely Trump will serve as a de facto leader due to his main source of power, Twitter, being taken from him. It was one of the main things that allowed him to mobilize his base into a frenzy and since he has been banned, the effects have been clear. After Trump was banned from Twitter, misinformation dropped by seventy-three percent. To put it lightly, Trump is on a muzzle and so long as he remains on that muzzle, Republicans will be without a voice to bow to.

Without their leader to guide them, the Republicans are faced with war from within. On the one hand, the conspiratorial Trumpists are preparing to take hold of a party they consider theirs already. Conversely, the Old Guard has prepared to defend itself from a shift within its political apparatus. Mitch McConnell, now the Minority Leader, has already denounced Rep. Margorie Taylor Greene, calling her conspiracies a “cancer” on the Republican party and the country. In response, Greene tweeted back a rebuttal, calling McConnell a weak Republican. 

Greene is far from being alone in her conspiracy addiction. According to a poll from late January, seventy-four percent of Republicans believe that Trump won the 2020 election. 

All of this culminates in a shift in the Overton window of the Republican party. As I’ve noted before, Republicans have consistently embraced conspiracies, but what makes this unique is that that embrace was tied to a clear interest for their party. Greene and those like her are a unique brand of Republicans that see conspiracies and distrust of traditional institutions itself as a virtue. Suppose the Republicans are to have any chance of recovering their political power. In that case, they will have to find a way to mitigate their interests with their more radical members’ behavior.

Whether or not they will be able to do so while also fighting their Democratic opponents is unclear, but one thing is for certain: The Republican party will never be the same again.

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Conor J. Kelly was the Opinion Editor for the Lorian and a prolific staff writer. He graduated from Loras College in April of 2021 and is now pursuing his master's in political science at the University of Illinois, Springfield. You can find his new work on The Progressive American newsletter.

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