In recent times, we have seen the Democratic party struggle to remain united as the so-called progressives have battled with the establishment. Now, it appears that the Republican party is about to undergo a similar struggle of its own.
Great tension among Republican leaders has arisen in both the House of Representatives and the Senate threatening to divide the party into establishment-type Republicans and pro-Trump Republicans.
One of the main causes of this tension is the 2020 election: the establishment Republicans in Congress have accepted the results, while the pro-Trump Republicans in Congress have argued that there is legitimate evidence to at least question them.
The other main cause is the Democrat-led effort to impeach President Donald Trump for the Capitol riot which they claim he incited on January 6th. While the election situation increased the tension, it is this impeachment that appears to be on the verge of breaking the Republican party apart.
It ought to be noted that we are not talking about fringe congressional Republicans here. The tension is right atop the party, and, in the Senate, it includes Republican leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY).
McConnell has made it clear in recent months that he is not a Trump Republican but an establishment Republican. He did so by urging President Trump and Republicans to accept Joe Biden as the winner of the 2020 election. And now, he appears to be on the verge of supporting the Democrats’ attempt to get President Trump convicted and thus unable to run again for office.
On Tuesday, McConnell even gave a speech on the Senate floor in which he blamed President Trump for the Capitol riot, saying, “the mob was fed lies. They were provoked by the president and other powerful people.”
At the other end of the spectrum in the Senate are the likes of Sens. Ted Cruz (R-TX) and Josh Hawley (R-MO), who both objected to the 2020 election results and who both are against impeachment.
Just as in the Senate, the tension between Republicans in the House also goes right up to leadership.
House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-CA), like his Senate counterpart, has blamed President Trump for the Capitol riot. Although he didn’t vote to impeach, Rep. Liz Cheney (R-WY), the head of the House GOP Conference, did. And now, reports indicate that at least half of that House Republican Conference support having Cheney removed from her post.
At the other end of the spectrum here would be Reps. such as Jim Jordan (R-OH) and Matt Gaetz (R-FL). Both men have stood beside President Trump during the election and the impeachment.
Will there be a Republican split?
One key here is whether the Republican establishment is still strong enough to quell the pro-Trump opposition. More and more it seems that it is not.
The fact is that President Trump has a large number of supporters, and polls have indicated that they are sticking with him despite everything that has happened. He is as popular as ever, and there is no sign that he is just going to disappear now that Biden is taking over. This is the reason why establishment-types like McConnell are holding out on impeaching and on convicting the president: they are just trying to find a way to do it without costing themselves in the next election.
And, this is the key to the whole thing: it’s the voters. The direction of the Republican party will depend on those voters who have supported establishment-type Republicans in the past. If these voters continue supporting these politicians, then the split is on. But, if these voters turn to pro-Trump candidates, then there will be no split but rather a united movement in the direction that President Trump has led the party.