With the 2024 US Presidential Election a mere year away, the campaign is now fully underway and the stakes could not be higher. The political dynamics of the race for the GOP nomination are unprecedented, to say the least: the clear front-runner is facing over 100 criminal charges and has been absent from the two debates thus far. While this is happening, the Republican majority in the House of Representatives has descended into chaos and has put a halt to the American Government.
President Biden’s dealing with the war in Ukraine, and now the situation in Israel, has been on a bipartisan basis, and the fact that throughout this crisis one of the Houses of Congress has been unable to even elect a speaker has again demonstrated how the Democrats are the adults in the room, when it comes to American Politics. And yet, I can’t help but feel a sense of optimism when I see some of the resistance that is emerging within the Republican Party to authoritarian and isolationist tendencies.
Ever since Donald Trump became President, every dissident voice within his party has been marginalised and crushed. “He basically did a full hostile takeover of the Republican Party” Jared Kushner had said of Trump in 2020, and he was right in that assessment. ‘Traditional’ republicans who were critical of the former President’s behaviour, were either completely sidelined, like the late John McCain and Mitt Romney, both former GOP Presidential nominees, or they were primaried by MAGA Republicans who, with the endorsement of Trump, defeated several incumbent Senators and Representatives, or they simply fell into line. There were many such instances of Never-Trump Republicans who denounced the former President the same way as Democrats did, and in a mission to survive politically, became full-blown defenders of Trump. Lindsey Graham once called Trump a “race-baiting, xenophobic bigot” and said if his party nominated Trump “we will be destroyed, and we will deserve it.” He remains to this day one of his most ardent supporters.
There was practically no dissension within the GOP ranks during the Trump Presidency. Only a couple voted to impeach Trump in his first impeachment trial, while a mere seven senators would vote to impeach him for his role in inciting the January 6th riots, this despite all of them having been there to see the violence and the death that had ensued.
Republicans representatives who served on the January 6th committee were either defeated in primaries by Trump-backed candidates or chose to retire early, but their fight has been carried on by others within the Republican party.
With the entry of Chris Christie in the race, other candidates who were cautious in their opposition of Trump have since found their voice. Niki Haley, Mike Pence, even Ron DeSantis have left no stone unturned in denouncing the President and I have not heard a single candidate in any debate claim that Joe Biden stole the 2020 election. This is altogether an improvement to the previous situation.
In the House, although it has descended into chaos, more ‘moderate’ forces have stood firm in opposition to the nomination of MAGA Republicans who tried to overturn the 2020 election, like Jim Jordan and Byron Donalds. This is altogether an improvement to the lack of defence they provided for their brave colleagues like Liz Cheney and Adam Kinzinger who took a firm stand against the attempt to overturn the last election. It remains to be seen how long this moderate resistance in the US House will last.
The rejection of authoritarian tendencies within the GOP (“a massive fraud of this magnitude allows for the termination of all rules, regulation and articles, even those found in the constitution” Trump said last December) is no longer a taboo within the Republican Party. Nor is it taboo for GOP elected officials or candidates for President to denounce Trump’s coddling of dictators like Putin or Xi Jinping. Calls for the US withdrawal of NATO have also been criticised. This is an improvement to what has been the norm within the party since 2016.
When the first criminal charges against Trump started to come out, many, even moderates, called them “weaponization of justice”. All except Chris Christie. That has equally toned down as the charges have kept coming. There seems to be a consensus that if a court of justice finds him guilty of attempting to overturn an election, that should have consequences.
The GOP has also formed multicultural and multiethnic coalitions of voters in the 2020 and 2022 elections. I think that this has led many in the party, even Trump, to drop some of the more race-baiting and xenophobic appeals to their base. Evidence of this is the recent surge of MAGA (‘2.0) Vivek Ramaswamy. They are no longer basing their appeal on white-grievances. This is a good thing.
Donald Trump can not use his rhetoric demagoguery to escape the American Justice system. There is a high probability that he will be convicted for crimes and that will inevitably hurt his campaign. Though he seems like the clear frontrunner at the moment, that could change. That is encouraging.
More importantly though, there are currently many elected officials and those who are running for elected office who are not scared to voice their opposition to MAGA extremism and are not sugarcoating what their worst tendencies are doing to their party and to their country and this, I feel, is worth noting.
This is an ongoing story, but one that I feel not enough people are paying attention to. How it plays out will have enormous repercussions to America and to the entire world.