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Where next for the Republican party?

Donald Trump has another dubious accolade to add to his extensive list of ‘firsts’. He’s now the first President in US history to be impeached twice. The House voted to impeach the president 232 to 197 for ‘incitement of insurrection’, with 10 Republicans voting ‘yes’. Notably, this includes the head of the House Republican Committee, Wyoming’s Liz Cheney (yes, daughter of that Cheney), who has since drawn considerable fire from the conservative House Freedom Caucus, who demand that she be removed from her role. Representative Andy Biggs (R-AZ) lambasted Cheney’s decision to vote alongside the Democrats: “the reality is she’s not representing the conference; she’s not representing the Republican ideals”. Cheney has dismissed calls for her resignation, arguing that this was a vote of conscience, that shouldn’t be dictated along party lines.

The horrific act of mob violence that the US witnessed last week has caused a number of diehard Trump supporters at the highest levels of government to finally break ranks with the President. This includes the impeccably-American-named Chad Wolf, acting secretary of Homeland Security, Chief of Staff Mick Mulvaney, and Education Secretary Betsy DeVos, who’s a big money GOP donor. 

Of course, there are important questions to ask about why only now have any of these people decided to stand up to a President who’s disdain for the constitution has been evident since before he even took the oath of office. Perhaps most surprisingly, Trump stalwart and “unacknowledged lovechild of Admiral Ackbar” (according to Stephen Colbert, anyway) Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) has reportedly told associates that he believes Donald Trump should be impeached, potentially giving other GOP Senators leeway to vote to convict him when his case comes before the Senate.

The events have thrust the deep schism within the GOP back into the limelight. A poll conducted by PBS found that some 47% of Republican voters believe that the actions of the violent mob on Capitol Hill last week were legitimate, whilst an equal percentage disagree. Once Trump leaves the White House on January 20th, the GOP faces an existential crisis. In 2016, Trump ripped up the GOP’s playbook, so what happens next? 

Without Trump, there’s a power vacuum in the GOP which could split the party in half. Perhaps the GOP will be able to claw its way back from its recent populist, neo-conservative agenda with a more moderate candidate in 2024. The New York Times has already floated ex-UN Ambassador Nikki Haley, and Governor Larry Hogan of Maryland as potential moderate candidates for president in a post-Trump GOP. 

However, the Trump family has not exactly been quiet about their continued political ambitions. Writing in The Independent, Michael Arceneaux pointed to Ivanka Trump’s political aspirations, perhaps beginning with her running for Senator or Governor in Florida. Donald Trump Junior has reportedly bought property in Montana which he intends to use as a political base, and Laura Trump, who is married to Trump Senior’s middle son Eric, is reported to be eyeing a Senate bid in North Carolina in 2022. Of course, there’s also (currently) still nothing stopping Trump himself re-running for President in 2024. 

Now that they’ll be in the minority in both houses for the first time since 2006, the Republican party needs to have a long, hard look at itself. This week has demonstrated that Trump still has a significant amount of sway over his base, and it’s clear the Trump dynasty isn’t going to go away quietly. If Trumpism really is the raison d’etre of the GOP, perhaps we’ve not reached the last stop on the Trump-train yet at all. 

Image: Republican Elephant via Pixy

By Emma Hunt

Culture and Opinion writer

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