A Breakaway Third Party of Ex-Republicans? Don’t Count on It.


“A house divided against itself cannot stand,” Abraham Lincoln declared in 1858, simply two years earlier than he assumed the mantle of the just lately shaped Republican Party. “It will become all one thing or all the other.”

A century and a half later, within the wake of a presidency pushed by persona politics that ended with a violent assault on the Capitol constructing, the G.O.P.’s House convention is deeply divided in opposition to itself. The query is what it’ll turn into.

A group of traditionalist Republican figures — nearly none of whom presently maintain elected workplace — are threatening to ditch the celebration and begin a brand new one, saying that the G.O.P. is on the verge of changing into “all one thing”: a cult of persona.

But some insiders say that the menace is usually hole, given how staunchly pro-Donald Trump the Republican base now could be, and the way unfriendly to 3rd events the American political system has at all times been.

“A third party isn’t going to happen,” Sarah Chamberlain, the director of the pro-business Republican Main Street Partnership and a longtime Trump critic, stated in an interview. “But stay within the party, and it changes. Elect people that are more to your liking.”

Doing that could be robust. On Wednesday, Republican lawmakers within the House booted Representative Liz Cheney from her management publish as a result of she wouldn’t cease calling out Mr. Trump for selling the false narrative that the 2020 election was stolen from him.

A day later, a gaggle of greater than 100 anti-Trump Republicans pushed again on Ms. Cheney’s behalf, releasing a letter — titled “A Call for American Renewal” — warning that they could decamp to a new party if the G.O.P. didn’t reject Mr. Trump’s lies and, as they put it, “rededicate itself to founding ideals.”

But right this moment, House Republicans made clear simply how unimpressed they have been by the menace: They voted to exchange Ms. Cheney with Representative Elise Stefanik, a reasonable from upstate New York who recently threw in with Mr. Trump’s baseless claims about election fraud.

It’s possibly the clearest reminder but that conservative ideology issues much less to the Republican base lately than does loyalty to Mr. Trump’s narrative. It’s potential to be a center-right legislator and nonetheless be welcomed into the celebration. The value of entry is fealty to Mr. Trump.

Barbara Comstock, a former Republican member of Congress from Virginia who signed on to the letter, stated that for a lot of, that’s a bridge too far. “There’s a lot of Republicans out there who say, ‘I don’t have a party anymore,’” she stated. “And we’re trying to let people know there’s a lot of us — just rank-and-file people out there that don’t want to be Democrats, that want to support center-right policies, but they can’t go to Trump.”

Ms. Comstock and her allies see a ray of hope in a proposed bipartisan fee to analyze the Capitol assault on Jan. 6, and lawmakers right this moment took a major step towards getting it off the bottom. Representative John Katko, the rating Republican on the Homeland Security Committee, agreed to drop his celebration’s demand that the fee look into left-wing violence at racial justice protests as half of its investigation, a transfer that Ms. Comstock hailed as an indication of progress.

By establishing clearly what position Mr. Trump and his allies on Capitol Hill performed in enabling the assault, she stated, the fee might make it more durable for Republicans to proceed supporting “the big lie” that Mr. Trump is the sufferer of a vote-stealing conspiracy.

“That will be very important, to get this very much out in the open,” Ms. Comstock stated.

Still, conservative media — the equipment that has most constantly aided and abetted Mr. Trump’s distortions — has shown less and less interest in condemning the rioters as Jan. 6 has receded within the rearview mirror. And at the very least for now, Republican voters stay largely supportive of the previous president.

In a CNN poll from March, Republicans stated by a 2-to-1 margin that they accepted of how Mr. Trump had dealt with the occasions of Jan. 6.

But does that actually imply a disaffected minority of Republicans will begin a 3rd celebration? For now, Ms. Comstock acknowledged, that is still a menace greater than a practical risk.

“I’m focused on finding good Republicans — like John Katko, like Liz Cheney, like Adam Kinzinger — who will run for next cycle,” she stated. “Reject that big lie and put together a coalition.”

And as Ms. Chamberlain identified, though the House Republican Conference is now led totally by a pro-Trump staff, many of the highest G.O.P. lawmakers on House committees have quietly resisted his takeover of the celebration.

“If we get back the majority, we have a lot of our members leading committees,” Ms. Chamberlain stated, referring to House lawmakers who belong to the Republican Main Street Partnership and don’t have any love misplaced for Mr. Trump.

This, of course, might spell solely extra dissension and division forward of the 2024 presidential election, when the celebration’s voters should determine whether or not to appoint a Trumpist candidate — possibly even the previous president himself — or a extra conventional Republican determine. For now, the home stays divided.

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