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Is the GOP Ready to Revolt Against Donald Trump?

Donald Trump
Trump rally in 2020. Image: Gage Skidmore.

Donald Trump facing a challenge for the 2024 GOP nomination? 2023 is shaping up to be the year of Republican infighting.

Barely two weeks into the year and Republicans have already engaged in a high-profile struggle amongst themselves – to elect a House speaker to lead the new Republican majority.

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Looming on the horizon are more GOP storm clouds; the upcoming GOP primary should feature several prominent figures, all vying to be the next GOP standard bearer.

At stake in the struggle for the nomination, is the direction and tone of the party. Old fault lines will resurface. New fault lines will crack open. Trump’s influence over the party will be gauged. Almost certainly, a challenge to Trump’s power will emerge.

Whether Donald Trump can withstand the challenge, and remain the preeminent figure in Republican politics, will be a central question of the year ahead.

McCarthy Speakership Fight

“Kevin McCarthy’s slog to the speakership was a fitting enough way to start the year,” Nate Cohn wrote for The New York Times. McCarthy’s election, which lasted for multiple days and required over a dozen ballots, was the longest speakership election in over 150 years (since before the Civil War). The last time a speakership election required more than even one ballot was a full century ago, in 1923.

The holdup over McCarthy stemmed from a cluster of Freedom Caucus Republicans, who stubbornly held out for days under the premise that McCarthy was not ideologically conservative enough. The contrast between Freedom Caucus Members and McCarthy, which surfaced during the speakership election process, will likely remain relevant as the GOP jockeys internally to realign itself.

Donald Trump and a Presidential Nomination Fight

By January 2019, half a dozen Democrats had declared their candidacy for the presidential election. So far in 2023, however, only one Republican candidate has declared – that being Donald Trump. The field is still wide open, although many expect the field to become congested. Trump’s power appears to be waning, meaning he will be challenged.

The source of Trump’s most viable challenge appears to be Florida Governor Ron DeSantis. But the nature of DeSantis’s challenge remains unclear. “For all we know, Mr. DeSantis might run at Mr. Trump from his right and attack him for bringing Dr. Anthony Fauci into our lives and the vaccine into our bodies,” Cohn wrote. “Maybe [DeSantis will] blame Mr. Trump’s trillion dollar coronavirus spending packages for bringing about inflation.”

Whatever the nature of the challenge to Trump, the presidential primary should offer insights into how the GOP is going to realign itself. At present, predicting the way the GOP realigns is difficult; for several years, Trump has been the dominant leader of the GOP, forcing his rivals and naysayers into the periphery. “It is not at all obvious how Republican Party politics will scramble and realign if and when a vigorous challenge to Mr. Trump emerges,” Cohn wrote.

Predicting the New GOP

The GOP will most certainly realign itself.

How the GOP realigns itself is a mystery that will reveal itself over the course of the next calendar year. “This year, one of our biggest tasks will be to survey the newly revealed Republican landscape,” Cohn wrote. “This is not necessarily an easy assignment. In some ways, Republicans are a tougher challenge for political analysts than Democrats, who can usually be analyzed on a simple ideological spectrum or with the readily available demographic traits of members or their supporters, like race and education.”

So, keep an eye on the GOP – that’s where the action will be this year.

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Harrison Kass is the Senior Editor at 19FortyFive. An attorney, pilot, guitarist, and minor pro hockey player, Harrison joined the US Air Force as a Pilot Trainee but was medically discharged. Harrison holds a BA from Lake Forest College, a JD from the University of Oregon, and an MA from New York University. Harrison lives in Oregon and listens to Dokken.

Written By

Harrison Kass is a Senior Defense Editor at 19FortyFive. An attorney, pilot, guitarist, and minor pro hockey player, he joined the US Air Force as a Pilot Trainee but was medically discharged. Harrison has degrees from Lake Forest College, the University of Oregon School of Law, and New York University’s Graduate School of Arts & Sciences. He lives in Oregon and regularly listens to Dokken.