The longterm impact of Donald Trump’s turbulent presidency could signal the internal destruction of the Republican Party, as the former leader’s historic second impeachment looms.
While the 74-year-old promised an end to “American carnage” in his 2017 inauguration address, the events of the final months of his administration – including his refusal to acknowledge his defeat in the November election to President Joe Biden and the deadly January 6 Capitol siege, incited by his own inflammatory words – have caused a “cold war” among his own party.
While some Republicans in congress have signalled their desire to move past the self-described billionaire by impeaching and convicting him, his allies are declaring their loyalty to him in conservative media and to state and local party organisations.
“The result is a Republican Party in a fight with itself over who will determine its path forward – and more crucially, who should be kept from the levers of power in the GOP,” CNN’s Michael Warren wrote in a piece yesterday.
“For the moment, party unity is giving way to recriminations, a culmination of the longstanding dispute between the party’s grassroots and its leadership class that was mostly put on hold during Trump’s presidency, when few Republicans dared cross him.”
The party are now in an internal fight over whether to move forward and impeach and convict the former president, or consider to stand by him.
“Republicans are entering the wilderness and looking desperately to point blame,” conservative commentator and radio host, Erick Erickson, told the network.
“They’re going to have to make room for each other or let the Democrats run over them in the midterms.”
He added that the divide in the party isn’t just philosophical, but literal.
“The pre-Trump establishment right now largely runs the policymaking arm of the party, and the Trump wing controls the state party arms,” he said.
“That can’t last and have the party winning.”
Purdue University history professor Kathryn Brownell told the BBC that the former president and “his enablers in the Republican party” have “put American democracy to the test in an unprecedented way”.
One of the ten Republicans to vote for Mr Trump’s impeachment, Illinois Representative Adam Kinzinger, said the party is in the midst of a difficult fight for its own identity.
“I do think we are in a battle,” he told CNN.
“And it may be a battle that really needs to happen for our party to say, what does it stand for? Not when it comes to policy, but as much as anything, are we aspirational or are we a party that feeds on fear and division?”
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