As if it weren’t already divided enough, last week’s assault on the Capitol only solidified the divisions bubbling at the surface of the Republican Party.
For Trump fanatics, of which there are millions, the president did nothing wrong and was merely seeking to stand up against a stolen election. For the Never Trump crowd, led by the likes of Rick Wilson from the Lincoln Project, the events were described as a vindication of their longstanding opposition. And for those in the middle, the consensus was that however successful his presidency was, Trump must take at least some of the blame for the disgraceful scenes that took place.
It is in that middle, occupied by the likes of honorable yet uncompromising Senators Joshua Hawley (R-MO) and Ted Cruz (R-TX), that the future of the GOP must lie. The party needs leaders who are resolute in their conservative values but at the same time who can bring a sense of decency and decorum to politics so lacking in the leadership of Donald Trump.
I would be lying if I said that I did not enjoy aspects of Trump’s bombastic personality, from the late-night tweets to the egregious insults. As a conservative, it was often exhilarating to see the leader of the free world finally challenge the false notions set out by the liberal elites on practically all matters of governance. The Trump administration delivered countless victories, including a booming economy, the avoidance of major foreign conflict, and perhaps most importantly, a Supreme Court whose members interpret the constitution as it was intended.
However, Trump’s leadership has come at a cost. An emboldened and increasingly radical Democratic Party now has control of Congress and the presidency, allowing them to push through any kind of legislation that will undermine every aspect of American society and its constitution. This is principally the result of Republican’s defeat in Georgia Senate run-offs, for which Trump must take some responsibility. Despite all his successes, it is clear that America is ready to move on from his bombastic and combative style of leadership.
At the same time, as outlined in this recent editorial, the Trump era is really just beginning. He has reshaped the party into what its supporters truly want; a right-wing populist movement that believes, first and foremost, that America is the greatest country in the world and that the principles it was built on, particularly the concept of limited government, are vital to its continued success. Integral to this movement, which has attracted more minorities to the GOP than ever before, is also the total rejection of the cancer of identity politics and political correctness that is tearing the country apart. Another aspect must also be a commitment to rein in Silicon Valley, whose largest companies now wield more power over society than even its founders could have possibly imagined.
It is time that anti-Trump Republicans, particularly those linked to the Bush administration, accept that the days of the party being led by the likes of “good guys” such as Mitt Romney, John McCain, and opinion makers at National Review are over. America is arguably the most divided since the Civil War, and people are crying for bold, decisive, and unapologetic leadership. The challenges facing the country are both foreign and domestic, with the rise of Marxist movements including Black Lives Matter presenting an equally significant threat to America’s freedoms as the rise of hostile powers such as China, Russia, and Iran.
With Joe Biden on the verge of taking office with a Democratic-controlled Congress behind him, the stakes for the United States as a whole could not be higher. It is therefore vital that looking ahead to 2022 and 2024, Republicans can not only unify behind an agenda that confronts the specific challenges we are facing today, but also a candidate that does not provoke the visceral emotions that Donald Trump inspires.