Possible Scenarios for a Future GOP
[guest post by Dana]
We’ve had discussions here before about what the future of the GOP (post-Trump) might look like. As his days in office are now officially numbered, the GOP is going to have to make some tough decisions about where they want to go post-Trump. Although he will soon be out of office, Trump has transformed the party so much that it is barely recognizable. And he will doubtlessly continue to have a loud voice of influence within the Republican Party, with substantial MAGA supporters behind him, and a significant amount of money to back him up as well. This, as he uses the next four years to position himself for 2024. But the question is, will the Republican Party continue to languish on “Trump’s Fantasy Island” or will the party opt to return to familiar normalcy (i.e. reality)?
Here are three possible scenarios of a future GOP:
1. The MAGA scenario. Trump is eventually forced out of the White House, but Trumpism still dominates the Republican Party. Huge numbers of Republican voters continue to claim, without proof, that Democrats stole the election. They refuse to recognize the Biden administration or the democratic system that brought it to power. Republicans in Congress implacably oppose every Democratic proposal without offering any realistic alternatives; those who negotiate or even meet with the Biden administration face excommunication. A McConnell-led Senate (assuming Democratic losses in both Georgia senatorial runoffs) refuses to confirm any of President Biden’s judicial nominations or Cabinet picks. Republicans obstruct Covid-relief legislation and vaccine distribution. Trump-loving, gun-toting paramilitaries become ever more organized and emboldened, while his supporters in the culture wars come to believe that those who criticize their leader are enemies to be destroyed. The 2024 Republican presidential nominee will be a member of The Family; a Trump-style populist entertainer like Tucker Carlson; or perhaps Trump himself.
2. The Republican Party professionals scenario. Here, political experts within the party realize that the size and frequency of Trump’s rallies are no guarantee of his victory, much as his “owning the libs” doesn’t make up for his failure to pass any significant legislation aside from the 2017 tax cut. They know that holding on to the fiction that Democrats stole the election makes them look ridiculous and unhinged to all but the MAGA faithful. Political realities compel them to move the GOP a few steps away from Trump. Eventually, the kinds of conservatives who appear on Fox News grudgingly concede that Biden won. They still proclaim allegiance to Trump, but hint that his America First antagonism toward trade and international alliances did more harm than good. Republicans in Congress become fiscal-austerity-plus-tax-cuts zealots who refuse to cooperate with Democrats on any significant legislation, but their fanaticism stops just short of shutting down the government or defaulting on the national debt. They cheer as the Supreme Court guts Obamacare but stymie any Democratic fixes. The GOP machinery works relentlessly to tie Biden to socialism, and all Democratic legislators to “defund the police” and the worst excesses of woke-ism. Bow-tied commentators on Fox and Sinclair talk up the merits of Nikki Haley, Mike Pence and Ron DeSantis as presidential candidates to excite the masses with Trumpian bravado while also pleasing the party establishment.
3. The outreach scenario. What if a post-Trump Republican Party were to come up with policies to win over both the working class and the middle class? While this seems unlikely at the moment, the 2020 elections laid the groundwork for it by removing the greatest obstacle to policymaking—Trump—while thwarting a Democratic landslide that would have empowered the far-left to pass a radical program against the wishes of most of the population. Under those circumstances, the Republican Party would have curled into a tight ball of absolute opposition. As it is, the 2020 elections strengthened the hand of comparatively moderate Republicans, and there is some room for pragmatic negotiation.
For the sake of a richer discussion, please read the whole thing and then come back and give us your thoughts. Which scenario do you find most plausible, and why? For members and/or former members of the Republican party: what do you need to see happen to reassure you of your party’s sanity and/or what would have to happen for you to compel you to return to the party?