A Divided GOP after Trump
The unprecedented events of January 6, 2021 have left a deep scar in America’s political discourse. Across the political spectrum, politicians have extensively condemned the actions of rioters at Capitol Hill, calling for unity and peace. Nevertheless, even bipartisan backlash has not stopped the growing divisions between, and even within, political parties.
On the day that Congress assembled to certify the electoral votes of the 2020 election, Trump held a ‘Save America’ rally. In his speech, he urged his supporters to march down to the Capitol and protest the vote certification that was being held. Similarly, many Trump-supporting Republicans in the House and Senate presented objections to certifying the results for states like Pennsylvania, Arizona, and Nevada. As the crowd of rioters grew more violent, American witnessed a siege on its democracy.
After the chaos and the fallout, many Republican politicians began to dissociate themselves from Trump. Petitions to challenge the validity of certain states’ electoral votes were dropped in support by several Republicans. Majority Leader Senator Mitch McConnell urged colleagues to not overrule the votes, saying that it would “damage our republic forever.” Senator Kelly Loeffler, who recently lost her Senate seat to Democrat Raphael Warnock, also dropped her objection after the events on the Capitol. Even Senator Lindsey Graham, who supported Trump’s reelection bid, called it “a uniquely bad idea to delay this election.”
When House Democrats introduced Articles of Impeachment to convict the president with ‘inciting a insurrection,’ 10 House Republicans joined their Democratic colleagues in favor of impeachment. Even Rep. Tom Rice from South Carolina’s 7th congressional district, who voted against the certification of Joe Biden’s victory, voted in favor of impeaching Donald Trump a second time.
While more Republican senators have begun to detach themselves from Trump, especially after the attack on the Capitol, this is not a new trend. In late 2019, a group of conservatives and Republicans founded The Lincoln Project- a political committee dedicated to “a commitment to defeat those candidates who have abandoned their constitutional oaths.” The Lincoln Project ran advertisements, created a podcasts, hosted virtual meetings for previous Trump supporters, and collected donations, all in an effort to mobilize conservative voters to stand against a second Trump term. As the 2020 election veered closer, several top Republicans announced that they would not be voting for Trump.
Although many GOP representatives and senators
have begun to accept the results of the election, they are only among a quarter of Republicans to do so. According to a NPR/ PBS NewsHour/ Marist survey, 72% of Republicans out of 1,065 U.S adults do not accept the results of the election. In fact, Senators Josh Hawley, Ted Cruz, and Rep. Matt Gaetz all continued to support challenges to the electoral college votes, even after the violence.
It is evident that lines within the GOP are being drawn after Trump’s presidency, particularly among those who do and don’t accept the results of the election. Columnist Jennifer Rubin of the Washington Post writes, “We, in effect, have three parties now: The Democratic Party, the Anti-Democracy Trump Party and the Pro-Democracy Republican Party.” While each halve of the party may feel like they are protecting democracy, it is unclear how these division will survive challenges of a new Democratic majority. Will America ever heal from its divisions?