The House is still without a speaker, leading some Americans to surmise that the split within the Republican party signals the end of the right as we know it. Voters discuss what comes next.
Note: Some quotes in this piece have been lightly edited for grammar.
A hopeful morning for Republicans quickly became chaotic when Rep. Tom Emmer withdrew from the House Speaker race just hours after earning the nomination. Many speculate his withdrawal was due to comments made by former President Trump.
Signaling the End
Professor and author Thomas Balcerki recently suggested the turmoil for Republicans in Congress is suggestive of a serious fracture within the party, one that may be unrepairable. Many voters agree.
As one commenter said, “The speaker vote is relevant to the party as an institution, and this is exactly the kind of thing to cause a formal fracture because the party isn’t performing one of its core functions.”
Another person noted, “The more Republicans start to dislike other Republicans, the less likely they will ‘snap back’ to a cohesive whole when this stuff settles down.” With some Republicans leaning more into Trumpism and others backing away, the rift in the party seems to be growing daily.
Some theorized that if the Republicans split, it would be good for the country. “It would be cool to see it breaking apart,” one person said. “America would then change from only having two parties in Congress to three.”
Not So Fast
Others pointed out that there are reasons the U.S. only has two major political parties, and those reasons won’t disappear if Republicans split. “We need to reform our electoral system before we can handle three parties that each get a significant amount of votes,” one person noted.
America has seen political parties disappear before. “The Whigs collapsed in the 1850s over the Kansas-Nebraska Act, leading to the creation of two new parties: The Republicans and The American Party, also called the Know-Nothings. The Know-Nothings fell apart shortly after Lincoln was elected and merged into the Republican Party,” one person said.
Trump’s Party vs Real Republicans
A few pointed out that the Republican party is splitting because of Trump. “The party is so identified with Trump now that if you don’t support Trump, you don’t identify as Republican anymore and vice versa,” one person said. “People always say it can’t be the same party that nominated Mitt Romney and John McCain and Donald Trump, and that’s because it isn’t.”
The question, though, is what happens if the party splits in two. Will Trump loyalists disappear if Trump loses in 2024? Or will they remain a cohesive group in search of a new leader?
Some worried that a Trump loss would lead Trump-loyal Republicans down a dark road. As one person put it, if “the Republicans lose in 2024, the party will be in disarray and need a person to unify it. As if beckoned, a strongman will appear. The more psychotic, the better–there will be a power vacuum in the GOP, and that vacuum could then be filled with a fascist with vision.”
Others thought the worry about a Republican fracture was exaggerated. “Unless this Speaker drama rolls on for months and causes a shutdown or makes some other major direct impact on the daily lives of large swaths of the country, this will be relegated to a footnote in American history,” one person said.
“Republicans are going to flip a switch and become a cohesive party once they come back to start 2024,” another person argued. “They’ll all be in full-fledged campaign mode and will have to try and look presentable to the American public.”
Not Just Republicans
Others thought Republicans weren’t the only people who needed to worry about a party split. They said that if Trump wasn’t the Republican frontrunner, “we’d probably see the Democratic Party start to break up too, along the progressive/neoliberal divide.”
A few people thought the problem would only become more stark as time went on, whether Trump wins or loses in 2024, because the makeup of the Republican party is quickly changing. “The GOP is adding a lot of voters who felt like the system had disenfranchised them and just didn’t participate [before],” one person noted.
The vast majority of the commenters seemed concerned by recent Republican actions, even if they couldn’t predict what they meant. “It will get worse before it gets better,” one user predicted. Many echoed the sentiment.
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