OPINION: Can the Republican party bounce back after a Trump era?

Hannah Horowitz, Staff Writer

The current state of the Republican party certainly does not align with the conservative values that many of its members identify with. Former President Donald J. Trump still has a tight hold on much of the congressional leadership, with 197 House Republicans voting against the articles of impeachment presented earlier this month. As many as 45 Senate Republicans voted that Trump’s second impeachment is “unconstitutional” because he no longer holds the office of the president, which will likely lead to an acquittal. It is safe to assume that most congressional Republicans still stand by Trump in hopes to hold onto his voter base for their own races in 2022, 2024 and beyond. Trump’s influence on the Republican Party is not going anywhere and is going to continue well into the decade.

While some Republicans are hoping for a new era with Trump out of office, others show no signs of distancing themselves from the former president. This is due to the volume of voters, as 74 million people supported Trump in the 2020 election giving him the second-largest turnout for a presidential candidate in American history. 87% of Republicans still approve of his job performance even after the events on Jan. 6, 2021 .

While not all of those who voted for him are considered Trump-loyalists, there is still an extremely high percentage of voters who could be considered GOP loyalists and want to see a Republican presidential candidate win in 2024. The current top contenders for a 2024 presidential run are conservative Trump-loyalists such as former ambassador Nikki Haley, Sen. Ted Cruz (Texas), Sen. Marco Rubio (Fl.)  and even Sen. Josh Hawley (Mo.). Many Republican voters do not believe that Trump and his allies are to blame for the Jan. 6 attack on the Capitol (a poll found that Big Tech and Antifa appeared to be the culprits for the attack amongst GOP voters), insinuating dedicated support for these candidates in 2024.

The consequences of following Trump have been clear. He not only lost the White House, but he lost the Republican majority in the Senate as well. This is partly due to the inflammatory rhetoric he and his allies expelled following President Biden’s win. Distrust in our election systems grew, leaving Republicans in Georgia wary about casting their votes in the two runoff races. It was extremely evident that millions of people believed Trump’s lies that the election was rigged, leading to the violent attack on the Capitol that was actively endorsed by Trump himself. However, top Republicans continue to throw their support behind him, hoping that the American people suddenly realize that they are the party of “patriots” after all.

There has been talk of Trump starting his own party called “The Patriot Party,” which would undoubtedly make the Republican Party even weaker. Far-right supporters will split off into that faction, leaving conservatives struggling to find support amongst other bases. This will greatly hurt the GOP going into the 2022 midterm elections and the 2024 presidential election as the Democratic Party has made expanding their base a top priority.

The Republican Party will be Trump’s Republican Party for at least the next few years. It is hard to determine when America’s obsession with the latest populist president will end, especially if he is plotting to run again in 2024 (assuming he will be acquitted by the Senate). The Tea Party movement, which took hold during former President Obama’s second term, was the vehicle for Trump’s party to exist and do well with voters across the country. The more that the GOP finds a home nestled in right-wing extremism, the harder it will be for traditional conservatives to have a voice amongst party leaders.