Opinion

Why The GOP Needs to Move on From Trump

FIVE MINUTE READ

With the end of the Trump Presidency, and the Republican party losing their majority in the Senate, Conservatives have lost much of their footing in American government. The real question is: where does the fate of the party lie? Should Republicans continue to rely on Trump’s base for support? The answer to that is no. 

Here are my reasons for why they should move on: 

  1. The GOP is currently too diverse and cannot represent the views of Trump supporters
  2. They can’t continue to rely on his status

1: The GOP is currently too diverse and cannot represent the views of Trump supporters

Currently, the G.O.P. umbrella encompasses a wide spectrum of view points, but the extent of this diversity in ideologies is driving a rift in the party. There are moderate Republicans like Representative Liz Cheney of Wyoming, Senator Mitt Romney of Utah, and whose ideologies lay right of center, meaning they support moderate policies, and are more likely to cooperate with the opposing party. These moderates also were not shy to openly criticize Trump’s presidency in hope of preserving their party’s status. On the other, farther right, side of the Republican party are the Trump supporting individuals like: Senator Ted Cruz of Texas, Senator Lindsey Graham of South Carolina, and Representative Marjorie Taylor Greene of Georgia. As said by Stuart Stevens, a former republican consultant and advisor to the anti-Trump Lincoln Project, “I think it’s just straight-up a red line. This is much greater than any differences over tax policy or trade policy. It’s a fundamental belief in whether or not you want to continue the American experiment. A large portion of the Republican Party has decided they are for democracy if that means they win, and they’re against it if it means they lose. ”

(An image of Donald Trump appears on video screens before his speech to supporters in Washington on Jan. 6, which resulted in a violent attack at the Capitol.  Image by Bill Clark)

The Capitol Insurrection on January 6 further emphasized this split in the Republican Party. Most Republicans were quick to condemn the violence seen at the Capitol, but the backlash they faced for speaking out against the President was far from acceptable. For example, Congresswoman Nancy Mace was dining at a restaurant in D.C. when a Trump supporter interrogated and yelled at her for certifying President-elect Biden’s win. Mace said, “it didn’t matter what I said, they didn’t believe it.” Even the country’s most prominent Republicans, like Mitch McConnell, have received threats for speaking out against the President after the insurrection. After voting to acquit Trump, McConnell said, “Trump is practically and morally responsible for the Capitol riot.” Trump supporters were extremely angry, to say the least, at Republican politicians for criticizing the former President. After being fed lies upon lies, radical Trump supporters believe that anyone who speaks out against Trump is immediately wrong. That is not how politics works. One can support any candidate of their choosing, but it becomes dangerous territory when a politician becomes idolized to the extent that they become deified. 

House Minority Leader Mitch McConnell delivers speech blaming Donald Trump for the events of January Sixth ( The Associated Press/ )

This is why the Republican Party needs to move on from Trump. The party is more than just Trump, and believing that he is the end-all be-all will not result in a functional, united, nor legitimate party. Republican Senator Susan Collins of Maine sums this up well: “I think we need to get away from the idea that the Republican Party is just one person and adherence to just one leader. Instead, it is principles, it is fundamentals that bring us together.” Collins was one of the seven Senate Republicans to vote to convict Donald Trump in his impeachment hearings, making a powerful, yet necessary statement to the rest of the party. 

Senator Susan Collins (R-Maine) was one of the seven Republican Senators who voted to convict Donald Trump at his second impeachment hearing. (Politico/ Graeme Jennings-Pool)

2: The GOP Can’t Continue to Rely on His Status

As a former president, Trump will never lose his political influence in America, and as a result of his most recent acquittal, he even has the ability to run for office again in 2024. The G.O.P. should not allow him to run again if the party desires to gain support from more Americans. It is time for the party to put its backing behind a well-respected, and more importantly, experienced politician. A Trumpist candidate, one who shares the same radical political ideology as the 45th President, is less likely to pull moderate Republican voters and even some conservative Democrat voters. The G.O.P. should consider this strategy when nominating a candidate for the 2024 presidential election, or even the 2022 midterm elections: leaning more towards what the core of the Republican Party stands for — like small government, less regulation, and fewer taxes — and less towards the far-right Trumpist ideology that will turn away potential and necessary voters. 

Donald Trump leaves office with wife Melania on January 20th for the last time (The Associated Press/ Manuel Balce Ceneta)

So What’s Next for the GOP?

The Republican Party has a long, uphill battle if it wants to regain power in Washington D.C., and the first step in doing so is to move away from Trumpism. A firm separation needs to be formed between the party and Trump’s baseless claims of fraud, spreading of false information, and antagonistic behavior towards fellow politicians. Ultimately, the Trump presidency exponentially increased the divisions preexisting in the G.O.P., so by turning him and his actions into lessons of what to avoid in the future, the party can return to being a respected and cohesive political party. 

TL; DR

  • The Republican party is at a crucial point in its existence right now.
  • Although Trump and his base constitute a decent amount of the party’s support, the best option for the future of the G.O.P. is to rebrand itself, and leave Trumpism behind. 
  • By doing this, the Republicans are showing that they are taking accountability for former President Trump’s actions in office, and that they are willing to progress forward, both as a party and as a nation, instead of dwelling on the past. 
  • If the party moves on from the Trump era, and forgoes the baseless claims of the extreme right, then the G.O.P. has a chance to grow and regain their footing in the future. 

Sources:

https://www.npr.org/2021/01/16/957281673/republicans-wonder-how-and-if-they-can-pull-the-party-back-together

https://thehill.com/homenews/senate/539234-susan-collins-says-gop-should-move-away-from-being-about-just-one-person?rl=1

https://fivethirtyeight.com/features/the-gop-might-still-be-trumps-party-but-that-doesnt-mean-theres-room-for-hihttps://fivethirtyeight.com/features/the-gop-might-still-be-trumps-party-but-that-doesnt-mean-theres-room-for-him/

https://www.nytimes.com/2020/07/27/opinion/trump-2020.html

https://www.nytimes.com/2021/02/09/opinion/republican-party-future.html

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