How Donald Trump’s presidency could signal Republican Party’s destruction
The long-term 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.
“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.”
“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 10 Republicans to vote for 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?”
Trump's cronies struggling to find work
The Republican Party as a whole aren’t the only ones grappling with the aftermath of the Trump presidency.
Aides who chose not to join him in Florida are now reportedly frantically seeking employment, their resumes even less appealing to potential employers after the Washington riots earlier this month – with one former White House official telling Politico they knew of “people who got jobs rescinded because of Jan 6”.
It isn’t just the low-hanging fruit, however, who’ve been given the cold shoulder.
Two people familiar with the thinking of Trump’s former chief of staff, Mark Meadows – who spent seven years in the House of Representatives before joining the White House – said he was even considering a position at the Trump Organisation because of a lack of options.
“They are really f***ed,” a Republican strategist told the publication, pointing to some top officials who stood by Trump “until the bitter end”.
“The Hill scramble, one of the few places where they’d be welcomed, already happened a month or so ago … They were told over and over to take their hand off the hot stove, and they didn’t want to listen.”
Ivanka's own legacy in tatters
The world was once former First Daughter Ivanka Trump’s oyster.
But the final weeks of her father’s presidency left the 39-year-old fearing for the future of her own political career, doing whatever she could “to save her reputation”.
While she entered the White House with a carefully cultivated personal brand, projecting the image of an aspirational “woman who works” and was perceived as a liberal, moderating influence to her father, his chaotic presidency may have also thrown his children’s futures into chaos.
“Four years later, Ivanka’s clothing line has shut down and her personal brand has been damaged enough for a university to cancel her as a speaker,” Arwa Mahdawi wrote in a piece for The Guardian earlier this month.
“It seems she is persona non grata in New York and her dad has been banned from parts of the internet for inciting violence. By rights, Ivanka should be sobbing into her sheets wondering how everything has gone so wrong.”
According to Mahdawi, while Ivanka may originally have planned to “empower women in powerful ways via strategic pillars of empowerment”, her ultimate “legacy” is “enabling her father’s odious actions”.
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