In the winter of 1833-1834 John Quincy Adams founded the Whig party in opposition to Andrew Jackson, then President and Democrat as him – he held the Presidency between 1825-1829. Four candidates from that party managed to reach the presidency in subsequent elections, but the issue of slavery divided it between the antislavery of the north and the pro-slavery of the south. The result was the birth in 1850 of the current Republican Party – left and anti-slavery in opposition to the democratic rightists – which had its first president in Abraham Lincoln.
The existence of the Republican Party, despite not placing a single president in the White House between 1933-1953, has passed for more than a century and a half without special shocks, beyond whims like that of Ross Perot in the 90s. However, the history of the GOP -Grand Old Party- as it is popularly referred to, may be about to change for the sake of a president who was never or behaved like a true Republican. During his four years in office, the continuous foolishness of the current president supposed a repeated confrontation with the traditional liberal policies in republicanism promoted by Ronald Reagan. In a way, the events of January 6 at the Capitol were the staging of the singular personality, in the best of cases, of the person who provoked them.
At this time, the Democrats, led by Nancy Pelosi, are advocating the removal of the president either by application of the 25th Amendment to their Constitution or via impeachment. Beyond the last events, there are plenty of reasons for any politician of good, whether from one party or another, to punish the ignominy of those who have ruled their country from arrogance and on many occasions bravado; of who has polarized American society, taking it to levels of confrontation unknown since the Civil War.
The last behavior of Donald Trump well deserves, per se, such a shameful outcome after a legislature more typical of an exalted anti-establishment, disregarding elementary democratic principles, than of the most powerful man in the world. During his tenure, Trump has left a trail of political corpses that had Rex Tillerson the first casualty and has placed Mike Pence – as an elected position he cannot remove him -, in his last target; a good number of influential Republican politicians -Mitt Romney, Mitch McConnell …-, embarrassed by the events, stigmatize their president; collaborators and members of the cabinet distance themselves from their boss condemning what he has promoted; and the mistreated and despised press ask for his head on a silver platter. However, if Republicans accept the poisoned candy that Pelosi offers them – she needs their votes to successfully complete the impeachment – they will be making a serious mistake. Nor will it be beneficial to Joe Biden, despite the harsh accusations leveled against his predecessor in office. Although an impeachment will cast a shadow over his inauguration – Trump has announced that he will not assist in what is a new and unpolite policy – his support for such a process will derail the first and most urgent of his tasks: to heal the social tear.
I doubt the Republicans will second the proposed motion. If they provide their necessary support, they will run the risk of, paradoxically, making a victim who has been the worst president in the democratic history of the United States, and it will mean the beginning of a new and prolonged crossing of the desert such as that of the 1930s. and 40 of the last century. In the worst case scenario, they could be digging their own grave.
Beyond the misfortunes, it is undeniable that during its four years in office the Trump administration has had its positive aspects: unemployment rates have fallen to unknown percentages and the economic strength has taken Wall Street to historic highs. Trump obtained in the last elections of 2020 a support greater than those held in 2016 -encrypted at 15,000,000 more votes-. It is also found that in the moments of less popularity, less than 40%, their erratic actions continued to be endorsed and endorsed by 90% of their voters. Tens of millions of Republican Americans continue to faithfully support their president, and 45% of Republican sympathizers do not condemn the now known Assault on Congress. These fanatical followers have communed with each and every one of the nonsense at his tables, and the crucifixion that his dismissal would entail would make him a martyr of the cause.
The fact that, after being evacuated, the chambers continued to debate the legality of the electoral results in four states, is seen as a democratic strength; But the result reflects the influence Trump still has within broad segments of the party. Many Republican congressmen are fully aware that their reelection in the midterm elections in two years’ time depends precisely on their pro or anti-Trump stance at these critical moments.
Of a different nature is the relationship that Trump will maintain in the future with his current party. At this point, a future candidacy of Trump or his associates is practically impossible. Such an eventuality would suppose within the Republican Party a rupture identical to the one that the same protagonist has caused in North American society. The result will be similar to what happened between Hillary Clinton and Bernie Sanders among the Democrats in 2016 with the result known to all.
OUTSTANDING Republicans request Trump’s voluntary resignation along the same lines as Nixon in 1974. Knowing him, such an option is closer to the impossible than the improbable, especially if he intends to create his own party as is already speculated. It is not risky to say that such a hypothesis would be definitively substantiated if his dismissal were successful. If this happens, the damages inflicted on the party will be considered, both because of the bleeding of votes that this would entail, and because of the dismantling of structures in traditionally conservative states. Governors, senators and representatives who owe their positions to the current president will immediately enlist in the ranks of the new formation. In any case, this option has undeniable signs of being produced whatever the outcome may be.
This is the dilemma in which the party finds itself, and the resolution seems very complicated. Their complacency, or at least acquiescence, with the sometimes bizarre and usually controversial and incomprehensible decisions of their leader has led to this delicate situation that has brought them to the difficult point where they are. As a true man would say, whoever sows winds picks up storms, although another would consider it more opportune that in sin they carry penance. A candidacy headed by a Trump will have little or no chance of success in the next presidential elections … we thought so when the wayward tycoon Donald Trump ran as a candidate for the primaries in 2016.
That a Republican – Paul Ryan, Marco Rubio … – occupy the Oval Office again in four years will depend, beyond the Democratic actions during the legislature about to start, on his ability to lead the party back to the same principles. Liberals who forged their ideological essence and turned it into what it always was … and also the way out that they take at this perverse crossroads to which they alone have headed.
If not, they may suffer the same fate as the Whig party from which they were born.
Jos Antonio Gurpegui He is Professor of North American Studies at the Instituto Franklin-UAH.
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