2 Years After the Capitol Riot, the GOP Remains Divided. Good.
Two years ago this day, fans of former President Donald Trump stormed the U.S. Capitol, intent on disrupting the democratic election of Joe Biden amid Trump’s claims that the 2020 presidential contest had been rigged.
For a brief moment following the January 6 Capitol riot, it looked like most Republican lawmakers and pundits would condemn Trump’s lies and the riot they spawned. But a funny thing happened on the way to what should have been a reckoning: A whole lot of conservatives decided to back Trump’s narrative about a stolen election. Meanwhile, those who vocally opposed it found themselves on the wrong side of the ongoing inter-GOP war, one in which more moderate or conventional conservatives were demonized by Trump and his populist lackeys and Republican rising stars fought to position themselves as “the craziest son of a bitch in the race” (to quote Kentucky Republican Rep. Thomas Massie on what he realized voters swinging from libertarian-leaning candidates to Trump were looking for).
Flash forward two years, and whack job populism has suffered a smidge of comeuppance. The 2022 midterm elections weren’t kind to Trump-backed candidates and election deniers, and—Trump’s 2024 candidacy notwithstanding—it looks like the fever dream that culminated in the events of January 6, 2021, has started to break.
Does that mean we’re in for a more functional, less factional, and more coherent Republican Party?
This week’s shenanigans surrounding the election of a House speaker suggest showboating, chaos, and bitter divisions still rule the day for Republican leaders. And yet, amid the chaos and disorganization, there might be some small signs of hope.
It’s a very, very different kind of chaos than we saw two years ago, of course. I’m not trying to equate anything going on in Congress this week to Trump’s election fantasies or what happened on January 6, 2021. What’s going on right now is, in some ways, the exact opposite—a sign of a democracy functioning.
All I’m saying is that any hopes that the party had gotten its act together in the two years since the Capitol riots or the two months since the 2022 election have been exposed this week to be just as fanciful as Trump’s election fraud claims—and that it showcases the void Trump’s diminished status has created in the GOP.
For years, Trump alone basically set the Republican agenda, his whims and grievances substituting for anything like a policy platform, coherent vision, or legislative goals. Now, with the former president’s power and support in the Republican Party waning, the party is left with a confusing and chaotic mess of priorities, alliances, and figureheads. Without Trump to dictate the party’s direction, it’s a free-for-all over who will or should.
Those vehemently opposing Rep. Kevin McCarthy’s (R–Calif.) election as House speaker—the “hard right” Republicans, as they’re often called, though that’s something of a misnomer since the divisions between them and their GOP opponents isn’t exactly one of more or less conservatism—tend to represent a no-compromises, burn-it-all-down attitude toward GOP orthodoxies and more “respectable” politics. They delight in doing the thing most of their colleagues wouldn’t. They’re loud. Trollish. Trump-y, in many ways. Not about to go along or pipe down. And very adept at seizing any news cycle and making life very difficult for folks cast as their enemies. Some also harbor genuinely good ideas fo
Article from Reason.com