As the 45th President of the United States, Trump’s tumultuous term has finally come to an end, with Biden being inaugurated earlier this week. However, one cannot assume that Trump and his allies will disappear from the American political spectrum- Trump himself telling his most loyal supporters that he will be back. With the Republican Party split between a sizeable pro-Trump faction and a more centrist faction, the party faces an uphill internal battle to unite the party. This effort may be in vain, conversely as The Wall Street Journal reported on the 19th of January, Trump is now considering finding a new political party.
The name of this new party? The Patriot Party. Ironically, this name was used by a socialist organisation in the US in the 60s and 70s that aimed to organise communities of poor, rural white Americans and had many links to the hugely influential Black Panther Party. It is safe to assume that Trump’s potential Patriot Party would not share the Patriot Party’s same ideology of the 60s & 70s. This party would pose a significant threat to the established Republican Party and could eventually be its downfall.
There is something strangely poetic about a man who once won the Presidency with the support of the Republican Party to go then and purposely cause its demise. Far-right groups and QAnon have encouraged Trump to break away from the Republican Party, create a far-right haven for his conservative base and right-wing extremists. Unsurprisingly, supporters of the idea of a Patriot Party are firm believers in the disproven theory that the Democrats and Joe Biden stole the election, a message Trump continued to spew in his final days as President.
You may be asking yourself, ‘How would this harm the Republican Party?’ It is simple. Firstly, Trump is playing to his fiercely loyal base who are reliable Republican voters. This base has become disillusioned with the party in recent weeks. They saw it as an act of betrayal when now Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell and Trump’s Vice-President, Mike Pence, said they accepted the election result after some initial hesitation. In addition to this, Trump’s insurrectionist supporters were criticised by Republican leadership figures following the Capitol Riots- which aimed to prevent the certification of the Presidential Election results.
Therefore, many of Trump’s base support Trump, not necessarily the Republican Party. This is an issue for the Republicans, a big issue. Hypothetically speaking, if Trump founded his own party and either he or one of his allies runs for President, it would take many votes and support away from the Republican Party seeking to take back the White House. America would then enter a cycle of Democratic candidates winning nearly all elections as Trump’s base stray away from the Republicans and vote for Trump’s Patriot Party.
If the Republicans lose these Trump supporters from the party, their future looks uncertain. Trump’s Patriot Party would never come close to winning an election but would win some state’s electoral college votes that would generally be a safe Republican state. The Republicans may then have a peculiar situation on their hands in an election where Trump runs again. Their usual deep-red states may flip to Trump, leaving them very little chance to take back the Presidency from the Democrats.
Additionally, the party may lose some of its Congress members and Senate members for similar reasons. One cannot rule out that some of their current House members, especially and possibly some senators, would change allegiance if Trump does establish the Patriot Party. The November election saw many QAnon supporters/members elected to the House of Representatives as Republicans. One such member is Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene of Georgia, who has already filed articles of impeachment against President Biden.
She has expressed her support for many dangerous QAnon conspiracy theories, has expressed Anti-Muslim sentiment on many occasions, and is part of the Trump legacy that still lives on in the American government system. She is a close ally of Trump, and in the event where Trump creates the Patriot Party, one would expect her to sit in the House as a Patriot Party member- with others also likely to follow. If some Republicans change allegiance, this would increase the Democrats majority in the House and possibly in the Senate.
While there has been no real acknowledgment from Republicans regarding this possible split, it must be a cause of concern. They lost the Presidency, and their majority in the Senate, a splinter party who would have strong support, is the last thing the GOP needs at this time. Trump turned the GOP into Trump’s party. With the moderate Republicans now making their opposition to Trump vocal, perhaps Trump now feels he must split if he is to remain relevant in American politics. One has to remember that while the Former President lost the election, he still received upward of 74 million votes; it was certainly not a rejection of Trumpism. Trump is aware his policies attract support from many. With his relationship with the Republican Party now strained, he knows if he wants to make a political comeback, a new party may be the only way.
While Democrats enter a phase of controlling the Presidency, House, and Senate, they will be eager to convince Republicans in the Senate to vote in favour of impeaching Trump. Trump’s continued presence in American politics would be unsettling for Democrats as he continues to cast doubt on the validity of Joe Biden’s election. A party based on these wild theories would pose a threat to both the Republicans and Democrats and a threat to democracy.
One simply cannot rule out another insurrection if Trump continues to fuel his base and formally establish the Patriot Party. This party would be centralised around conspiracy theories and dangerous rhetoric that could de-stabilise an already shaken democracy in America. The Patriot Party would make far-right policies and practice mainstream; it would further blur the line between truth and conspiracies among the general public. While some have sneered at the suggestion of the Patriot Party, it is not to be ignored or mocked; it is a real threat and may further disrupt America’s political system.