Image Courtesy of CNN
By John Maggio
It is not a stretch to say that the Republican Party has been facing trouble for some time now.
Since November 8, 2016, the Republicans have lost the midterms in 2018, the general election in 2022, and the 2022 midterm elections. The Republicans never had its “red wave,” in the recent 2023 elections. It comes as no surprise that Vivek Ramaswamy, an American entrepreneur and GOP presidential candidate (“Grand Old Party”, another name for the Republican Party), called the Republicans a “party of losers” at the third Republican debate.
This is a party that has been largely unable to find its identity since former President Donald Trump first took office. Several notable anti-Trump Republicans have been kicked out of the party or office since he first took his famous descent down his golden escalator in 2015. This includes former Representative Liz Cheney (who was voted out of the GOP by her state and lost her reelection bid in 2022 for Wyoming’s Congressional seat), Senator Mitt Romney (who will not be seeking reelection in 2024), and MSNBC host of Morning Joe Joe Scarborough (former member of Congress who left the Republican Party due to Trump in 2017).
This loss of identity has also divided the party’s establishment combating, a small yet loud right-wing faction of the GOP – a faction of the party loyal to the former President. This includes the likes of Representatives Jim Jordan (R-OH 4th), Matt Gaetz (R-FL 1st), and Lauren Boebert (R-CO 3rd). Out of all the disputes that this wing has had with the rest of the party and the political system in general, two major instances stick out above the rest: the attempt to not certify Joe Biden as President in January 2021 and the removal of Representative Kevin McCarthy (R-CA 20th) from the role as House Speaker.
In the former of the two instances, this is a clear-cut sign of the faction’s unwillingness to agree that the commander-in-chief is who the American electoral system and people selected. If they do not want to accept who the president is, it is no surprise with their reluctance to create bipartisan policy.
For the latter instance, this shows that the Republican Party is too focused on infighting than governing. Gaetz bringing down McCarthy from the Speakership led to three weeks of chaos in the House while the Republicans attempted to find a Speaker who could have enough support from the mainstream House Republicans and the right wing of the party. This was only made more difficult by the expected nominee of the Republican presidential ticket, former Pres. Donald Trump, playing the role of king-maker when for the Speaker gavel.
With Congress now passing a spending bill to avoid a shutdown until early 2024, how this will affect the new Speaker of the House, Representative Mike Johnson (R-LA 4th) remains to be seen. With the bill being supported by Democrats in the House, Senate, and White House, but not by the right-wing of the Republican Party, it does not seem Johnson will be losing the gavel anytime soon, even though this bipartisan bill is the same action that brought down the former Speaker. Perhaps after the three weeks of debate, the right wing of the House GOP will not wish to repeat the recent chaos.
The dysfunction of the Republican Party is not just something that is affecting those in Washington, D.C.; it has state and local consequences as well.
Last week on Election Day, Republicans lost in some key races, including the Virginia House of Delegates, giving Democrats control of both state chambers, the mayoral race in Philadelphia, the first Congressional House seat in Rhode Island, the governor mansion in Kentucky, and legalization of marijuana in Ohio.
The most concerning result for Republicans is Ohio overwhelmingly making abortion protected in their state’s Constitution. This follows a trend of post-Dobbs elections and ballot initiatives.
Including Ohio, seven states have voted to protect abortion since Roe v. Wade was overturned.
It is no surprise that among these are California and Vermont, two states that have not voted red since former President Ronald Reagan. However, other states are as red as they come. Kansas, which Trump won in 2020 by 14.6% over Biden, voted in 2022 to keep abortion legal. Michigan, which helped secure Trump’s unprecedented 2016 win, amended its state Constitution in 2022 to protect women’s reproductive rights. The voters of Kentucky and Montana also protected this right in 2022.
When speaking to The New Yorker, Representative Ken Buck (R-CO 4th) said that “the Jim Jordan of 2015 would not recognize the Jim Jordan of 2023. If George W. Bush lied about the outcome of an election, Jim Jordan would have been all over him.”
The party has not been the same for some time now. While the President’s disapproval rates are climbing by the day, these problems plaguing the GOP may leave the party too divided and unpopular to seize this momentum against Biden. With recent polling showing Robert F. Kennedy Jr.’s presidential run affecting Trump’s chances than Biden’s, the voters may prefer four more years of Bidenomics compared to the divided and divisive Republican Party.