The Republican Party could be staring down an electoral catastrophe of its own making. Not only was Donald Trump well on the way to making America great again – those who voted for him would argue – but he was taking great strides in the direction of making the GOP great again, too. Following his election defeat – still vehemently disputed by his supporters – Trump was quickly abandoned by the old-school, go-along-to-get-along Republicans who care little for conservatism, patriotism, or the 45th president’s America First doctrine. It was a fateful decision that ensured stormy seas ahead for Mitch McConnell, Kevin McCarthy, and co., not to mention whoever wins the dubious honor of running on the Republican presidential ticket in 2024.
Support for the party is now fractured and, barely two weeks into the post-Trump era, a Patriot Party has entered the birth canal of America’s electoral system. It is not alone: a second version of this political upstart movement – the MAGA Patriot Party – is also threatening to alter or abolish the GOP, to borrow a phrase from the Declaration of Independence.
The GOP’s Challenge: Evolve or Die
But for a handful of GOP senators and representatives, it is not easy to find a Republican in Washington who is willing to stand up against the political establishment, regardless of the repercussions. That yellow streak running down the center of the party is nothing new, either. Going back to the Bill Clinton years, at least, congressional Republicans have rarely held fast in the face of the shrill demands of Democrats – though it must be acknowledged that there have been some notable, if rare, exceptions.
Trump stood against that establishment, and it terrified a great many Republicans on Capitol Hill, not to mention just about every Democrat. The Patriot Party and MAGA Patriot Party both have designs on continuing that Trumpian resistance. The former president has disavowed the latter movement – probably for no other reason than that he intends still to wield influence over the GOP and cannot be seen to be giving the nod to a movement that could destroy the party.
Whether Trump himself is backing the wrong horse is open to discussion. Certainly, he owes not an ounce of loyalty to the party that turned its back on him the moment that even questioning the outcome of an election became virtually a capital offense.
It should be clarified, at this point, that neither the Patriot Party nor the MAGA Patriot Party is an officially established national political organization, though a recent poll indicated that the former eclipses the Republican Party in terms of potential support at the polls.
Both entities intend to challenge the GOP to either embrace conservative populism or face a split in the Republican vote.
Split the Republican Vote? Why Not?
William Johnson, who leads the Idaho Patriot Party political action committee (PAC), told The Epoch Times that the nascent movement has been exploring “what it would look like to have a valid third party and viable candidate that have conservative constitutional values.” Johnson’s PAC is coordinating with other similar political action committees around the country to back candidates in gubernatorial and congressional races. One of those candidates, Mindy Robinson, who will run for a House seat in Nevada, founded a Patriot Party PAC in that state “in response to what I realized was a crooked, incompetent, gutless GOP.”
Jim Davis is a supervisor for the town of Venice, Florida, and the founder of the MAGA Patriot Party. He says the party will support so-called “moderate” Republicans who backed Trump. Davis even asserts that his party would back Trump himself if he decided to run again in 2024, though some pro-Trump groups, Davis says, feel as though 45 turned his back on them by disavowing the MAGA Patriot Party.
Davis is not shy, however, about his willingness to split the traditional Republican vote by running candidates against those who are derisively known as RINOs (Republicans In Name Only):
“Right now, there’s only two strategies that we have. Number one, that’s to try to primary certain Republicans out of office, if we can win a primary against them. And if not, to split the vote and put one of our party candidates against them.”
GOP Establishment’s Time Has Come
By “certain Republicans,” Davis means Rep. Liz Cheney (R-WY), who along with nine other GOP representatives voted in January to impeach Trump, as well as Florida GOP Sens. Rick Scott and Marco Rubio. Also on the list are five Republican senators who voted with Democrats to declare Trump’s impeachment constitutional. Forty-five Republicans in the upper chamber voted against holding the Senate trial, meaning that a conviction of the president now out of office is very unlikely.
Cheney, who chairs the House Republican Conference, is a chip off the old block, to be sure. Like her father, former Vice President Dick Cheney, she is a neoconservative – believing that America’s dominant role on the world stage gives it the right to use the awesome power of its military at will, anywhere it sees fit, for whatever reason it sees fit. She is also someone who, like her father, seems to consider loyalty to the political establishment more important than loyalty to the American people.
Whether Republicans have seen the last of Trump or not, his legacy stands in stark contrast to whatever legacy the Bushes, Cheneys, and McCains believe they should be honored for. Even some of those who were once thought to be fresh, new, Republican blood, such as Rep. Adam Kinzinger of Illinois, wasted little time in diving head-first into the Swamp to ingratiate themselves with party elders and big-money donors.
For many years, conservatives have been shoved aside by the Republican establishment. Donald Trump – who, ironically, was never known as a conservative – erased that slight within less than four years. If the party is now, once again, poised to turn its back on conservatives, those who feel left out will no longer settle for the Not The Democratic Party, but will find a new home.
Read more from Graham J. Noble.