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Professor Colleen Graffy, "The Republican Party Must Find the Strength to End the Cult of Trump" -- The Telegraph

Professor Colleen P. Graffy's opinion article, "The Republican Party Must Find the Strength to End the Cult of Trump," is published in The Telegraph. The article looks at the future of the Republican Party in the aftermath of the attacks on the U.S. Congress last week.

From The Telegraph, "The Republican Party Must Find the Strength to End the Cult of Trump":

The national shame that unfolded in our nation's Capitol was incited by the President of the United States. A Republican. The peaceful transition of power, always taken as a given, was subverted due, in the words of Senator Mitt Romney, "to a selfish man's injured pride."

Republicans from Vice-President Pence to Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell to Trump acolyte, Senator Lindsey Graham, finally threw in the towel and said, "enough is enough, Mr. President." Yet others, despite the disgraceful Trump-inspired insurrection, clung to Trump in hopes of receiving his mantle for the presidency, namely, Senator Josh Hawley of Missouri and Senator Ted Cruz of Texas. There lies the two paths of the future of the Republican Party. Will it be with a Romney-esque figure like Senator Ben Sasse of Nebraska or with a Trump wannabe like Senator Cruz?

Republicans will have a long period of reflection ahead. The brand has been severely damaged. Values that were assumed, such as: character counts, Allies matter, support for NATO is strong, Russia is a threat, America is a global leader, were tossed aside and lead many in the Republican Party to reject Trump or leave the party altogether. The struggle for the soul of the Republican Party has begun. Senators like Cruz and Hawley are banking that the Republican Party will remain the Party of Trump, hence their continued challenge of the electoral college outcome despite the events of the day and the disgust of most of their Republican colleagues.

Others, like Senator Sasse, came out early and strong against the antics of the President and would appeal to the "Pre-Trump" Republican Party. A third group of presidential hopefuls have tried to play both sides: Vice President Pence had been careful not to put a foot wrong to cross Trump—until he refused to upturn the electoral college votes. Senator Tom Cotton, a vocal supporter of Trump's, turned against him in the final hour. Former Ambassador to the United Nations, Nikki Haley, left the Administration without antagonising him but displayed mixed loyalty since. There is a good chance that they will be rejected by both groups.

The future of the party was seen to depend in large part on the role that Trump played after leaving office. A popular view was that he would launch a media empire and use his immense social media platform to either promote his own bid for president or play king-maker to his successor. The former view is now questionable. And although Trump had an enormous pull with the base, does he still? For many,  the MAGA mob attack on Congress will be the final straw to break their support for Trump. Having been banned by both Twitter and Facebook through the Inauguration, Trump's ability to mesmerize the base and the media may have lost its juice.

What will endure, however, is the underlying appeal that the Republican message had to a large part of the electorate and that Trump was so effective at communicating. Although the reputation of the Republican Party may seem in tatters, the viability of the GOP is actually strong as the election outcome shows. Despite star-power campaigning from the likes of former President Barack Obama, the Democrats did not increase their majority in the House as expected. Many votes for Biden were clearly a referendum on Trump; the down-ballot results showed a preference for Republicans, not only in the House, but in the state legislative chambers.

Republican control of state legislatures was a key strategic goal after the 10-year census because the party in control has the lead in "redistricting" --the re-drawing of boundary lines that will ensure party dominance. This will have an impact on the future make-up of the House and give Republicans a chance to take back the House in 2022. Many Democrats blame their poor down-ballot results on the "defund the police" messaging and "woke culture" wing of the party from which Biden successfully distanced himself.Biden's ability to control this group will likely play a role in how quickly the Republican Party is able to rebound.

As this soul-searching takes place, the Republican Party must find a leader who values and promotes our democratic institutions as well as understands and meets the needs of middle Americans. It doesn't have to be an either-or.

The Telegraph article may be found here