A handful of powerful Republicans — most prominently Representative Liz Cheney of Wyoming and Senator Ben Sasse of Nebraska — seem to feel the same. Last weekend, Ms. Cheney, the third-most-powerful House Republican, said on Fox that Mr. Trump “does not have a role as a leader of our party” moving forward. “We need to make sure that we as Republicans are the party of truth, and that we are being honest about what really did happen in 2020 so we actually have a chance to win in 2022 and win the White House back in 2024.”
Some of Ms. Cheney’s colleagues mounted an effort to strip her of her leadership position after she voted to impeach Mr. Trump, but the vote failed overwhelmingly on a secret ballot — something Democrats should be pleased about, Eugene Robinson argues in The Washington Post. “It is in everyone’s interest that the G.O.P. become an actual political party again, rather than a cult dedicated — in Sasse’s memorable phrase — to ‘the weird worship of one dude,’” he writes. “For that to happen, lawmakers such as Sasse and Cheney need to win the battle for their party.”
Over the next two years, the non-Trumpist faction of the Republican Party may find that it has nowhere to go but out. The 10 House Republicans who voted for impeachment, including Ms. Cheney, are already facing primary challenges, censures and other forms of retaliation from state-level party organizations, a sign that the Republicans’ divisions will only deepen before the next congressional election.
If the midterms end up proving a rout for Republicans who broke with Mr. Trump, those remaining in power may not be able to turn back. “Ask Jeff Sessions how that worked out for him,” Chris Vance, a former chair of the Washington State Republican Party, writes in The Seattle Times. “During his losing primary campaign to regain his seat in the Senate, he tried to argue what a loyal Trumpist he really was, while Trump viciously attacked him. These rebel Republicans may not want a civil war, but that war has already started, and they need to fight back.”
One way to do so, as the Times columnist Thomas Friedman has suggested, might be for the small number of moderate Republican senators — Mitt Romney, Susan Collins and Lisa Murkowski, for example — to form their own caucus, if not their own party, which would consolidate their influence over the legislative process. “Even if just a few principled conservatives came together and created a kind of third party in Congress, they could be kingmakers,” he writes. “With the Senate so finely balanced, moderates on each side have significant leverage.”
As Matthew Crandall points out in Deseret News, running to the left of a Tea Party candidate was precisely how Ms. Murkowski won re-election in 2010 as a write-in candidate after she lost the Republican primary, which suggests a third party could be viable. A center-right party, he argues, would have broad appeal in New England governors’ races, Western and Sun Belt Senate races, and House races in the suburbs across the country. And while a center-right party would draw mostly from conservative voters, he predicts it would also draw from suburbanites who voted for President Biden out of distaste for Mr. Trump, effectively blocking Democrats from majority rule in Congress.
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