Donald Trump only recently left for Mar-a-Lago. Even if it is a little early to gauge the fallout of his presidency on the Republican Party, there are some indicators that give us direction.
Earlier this week, a few American publications reported a relatively high number of defections among the members of the Republican Party. Outraged by the assault on the Capitol and by the party leaders’ attitude in the light of what the president said, tens of thousands of members preferred to leave.
This wave is unprecedented; news site The Hill explained that this could just be the tip of the iceberg. Historically, it is not an exceptional thing for elected officials to change parties or to prefer not to have any official affiliation between two elections, but these losses are important.
Despite this somber picture, there are some positive notes. The elected officials who are leaving the Republican Party are not guaranteed to move over to the Democratic Party.
If it is true that they are losing members, Republicans can recruit members to absorb this deficit. They can hope to plug the hole going forward with the midterm election in 2022.
Perhaps you have read or overheard some uptakes already: The Republican constituency is divided between the traditional conservative faction and the followers of Donald Trump. If the leaders and the strategists of the party have well noted the frustrations of the conservatives, they are still waiting to see the number and the influence of the Trump supporters that will develop within the constituency over the next few months.
Trump Still Has Influence
While their leaders and strategists observe and wait, plenty of Republican representatives in Congress have already chosen sides. Already, 45 senators oppose holding a second impeachment trial against Trump. Many of the representatives are already ready to wipe the slate clean despite the seriousness of the accusations.
You must also add the Republicans in the House of Representatives to this solidarity in the Senate. They exert a lot of pressure on their 10 colleagues who crossed party lines by voting in favor of the impeachment.
Moreover, there is the case of Kevin McCarthy, a Republican representative from California. He is ambitious and is the leader of his constituency in the House. He has his eyes on the Speaker of the House seat if his party gains a majority in 2022.
McCarthy gave a lively critique of the president after the assault on the Capitol, pointing his finger at him for his responsibility. Not only did he quickly eat his words, but he met Trump at Mar-a-Lago Thursday to be severely reprimanded there and pardoned by the “godfather.”
Many of us wondered if the assault on the Capitol hadn’t sounded the death knell for Trump, QAnon and the extreme right. If the Republican Party appeared to be enjoying a window through which it could distance itself from these extremist elements, we may now say that that window has quickly been closed again. Trump’s control is still very real.