Douglas Andrews / Feb. 10, 2021

What Does the GOP’s Future Look Like?

Republicans aren’t yet in the post-Trump era, but they’ll soon have to decide what they want their party to look like going forward.

If there’s one thing we’ve learned from the first few weeks of Joe Biden’s administration, it’s that we’ll have plenty of things to complain about for the next four years. Virtually all of former President Donald Trump’s good policies are being undone by an orgy of executive orders and actions, and the GOP is fairly powerless to stop it — which is what you get when you lose two Georgia Senate seats to a couple of hard-left clowns.

But four years of criticism from the wilderness won’t get it done. We need to not only resist and ridicule the Democrats’ ruinous policies, we also need to propose our own. And we need leaders to do so in compelling ways. Like candidate Donald Trump did.

Maybe he’ll decide he wants to be a candidate once again. The Democrats don’t have nearly the two-thirds majority to convict him in this week’s impeachment trial, which means they can’t disqualify him from running again. Former ambassador to Germany and acting Director of National Intelligence Rick Grenell says Trump has told him more than once that he’s interested in running again. But he’ll be 78 in four years, and perhaps he’ll be running a TV network by then. So who knows? One thing we do know: Trump is more interested in taking the House back in 2022 than he is in launching a third party. He made that clear during his meeting last week with House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy.

In any case, conservatives should start to consider what our bench looks like, and who our next standard-bearer might be if it isn’t Trump. A tough and solidly conservative senator like Ted Cruz or Tom Cotton, or perhaps a successful young governor like Florida’s Ron DeSantis or South Dakota’s Kristi Noem? Both governors seemed to thrive during the Trump presidency, both have proven to be resolute leaders during the COVID-19 pandemic, and both seem to have that certain something that appeals to voters.

DeSantis is a fighter, and, like Trump, he’s been more than willing to call out media bias and Big Tech censorship. He did both last week at a press conference when he was challenged about the Hunter Biden news blackout just prior to the presidential election. “You’re trying to tell me if there was hacked information that could damage me, you guys wouldn’t print it? Give me a break,” he said. “You can whiz on my leg, but don’t tell me it’s raining.”

Noem, too, can throw a punch, and she can clearly articulate the differences between Left and Right. Two days after the January 6 Capitol riot, she published her thoughts when others were still hunkering down. “Our country has changed,” she said. “We have failed to educate generations of our children about what makes America unique. … Meanwhile, the left’s indoctrination takes place every day with kids all across America from the time they walk into a school at age 5 to the time they graduate college at 22. … What is it that Republicans stand for? We stand for the rule of law, not selective prosecution based on what your political views are. We stand for the right to defend yourself, your family, and your property. For your right to worship, to actually practice and live your faith according to your conscience. We stand for your right to earn a living and to do business.”

Going forward, we should also consider whether the Republican Party will bear Donald Trump’s America-First signature. Will it be a party with a strong populist-nationalist framework, or something else? It’s hard — indeed, foolish — to argue that the policies of our 45th president weren’t both popular and successful. And it’s hard to imagine the party reverting back to the more establishment style that defined it in the pre-Trump era. Unless we want to continue to lose presidential elections.

In any case, Democrats will do everything they can to sow division within the Republican Party ranks, as they’re trying to do now with Impeachment 2.0. Republicans shouldn’t take the bait. For now, at least, they would do well to remember our 40th president’s 11th Commandment: “Thou shalt not speak ill of any fellow fellow Republican.”

Besides, we have plenty of Democrats just begging to be spoken ill about.

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