Colonel Lang has eloquently stated the dilemma facing the Republican Party. As Senator Lindsey Graham admitted following the events of January 6, the Republican Party cannot live without Donald Trump, but at the same time, the Party must look to the future and find a way to retain the 15 million new GOP voters who came into the Party because of their support for Donald Trump while opening the opportunity for a new generation of presidential hopefuls.
A recent teleconference call by 120 Republican Party officials contemplated leaving the GOP and forming a new right-of-center party or forming a faction to revive more traditional Republican Party ideology. The group did not reach a decision, but clearly reflected a larger body of party stalwarts who are unclear about the future. They openly spoke of the differences between the Republican Party and the Party of Trump. A majority of state party posts are filled by Trump loyalists, and former President Trump has already announced his personal plans to back candidates challenging those RINOs (Republicans in Name Only) who did not rally behind him during his two impeachment trials.
Another complicating factor for the Republican Party old guard is that some new generation Republicans are calling for a break with the Reagan era free market/small government ideology that gave the party a dominant position in presidential sweepstakes for much of the past 40 years. COVID-19 has prompted some leading young Republicans to take a more balanced approach to regulation and the role of government during a period of national emergency. Marco Rubio, Josh Hawley, Ben Sasse, and Tom Cotton cover the spectrum of Republican Party national security views, but all share the belief that the GOP must rethink the proper role of government and–God forbid–move towards a national industrial policy. In the cases of Rubio, Hawley, and Cotton, they argue for these changes to address the growing geo-economic challenges from China.
In summary, the GOP is going through some dramatic changes, and the outcome is highly uncertain. As Col. Lang noted, Donald Trump will have a hard time stepping aside and letting the GOP sort out these heady issues, while retaining his commitment to his political base staying within the Republican Party’s growing tent. It will make for a rocky road forward, but one with some real potential to step into the 21st century and the new generation that is growing into political prominence.