The Republican Party’s Future is Trump or Trumpism?

If you live in a black and white world, you may think that there are Trump people and never Trump people. But this world is filled with marvelous color, and the storyline is not so predictable. 

To believe there is just the Trump-Never Trump binary choice does not take into account the actual state of the Republican Party. 

It doesn’t do justice to the party’s past and it does not take into account what is possible in the future.

Political experts who have been watching what is taking place among the politically powerful in the GOP this summer are now noting at least three segments of the Republican constituency. 

The activity gaining the most spotlight is the January 6 hearings in the House. But there’s also much to be learned from the number of speeches being given by GOP leaders who are hopeful about the 2024 general election for the presidency. 

The first group in this GOP Party is the most obvious one. There is a large portion of the party that remains totally loyal and under the control of Donald Trump. 

These are both voters and candidates who saddle right up to Trump and even report his mantra of an election that was stolen from him through voter fraud. They understand that disloyalty means disqualification and a loss of endorsement. They believe that Trump will not only run again but win again. 

Trump’s Impressive Record on Endorsements

There is another group, most likely significantly smaller, who are still never-Trump Republicans. They have been delighted by the summer blockbuster that is the January 6 hearing from the House. The number of this constituency will likely continue to thin out because of forced retirements. Some who know this kind of force against them are Illinois Rep. Adam Kinzinger, and the possible primary defeat of Rep. Liz Cheney in Wyoming.

Trump’s record on endorsements is pretty impressive. You don’t want him going against you when it comes to the ballot box. 

But those who oppose Trump believe his candidates have won in their primaries because of Democratic supporters. The Democrats would rather run against a Trump-endorsed candidate rather than a more moderate GOP candidate. 

Now, let’s think about the colors in this not-so-black-and-white world. This segment of the population might very well be the one that matters the most…and it’s those who are in neither the Trump nor Never Trump camp. 

Former Vice President Mike Pence and Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis are the most high-profile people who are trying to stay in the very center of that lane. 

They are Republicans who are trying to stay loyal to the idea of Trump, if not the person of Trump. They share the main goals that the former president had, but they are attempting to steer the big GOP boat away from the most controversial falsehoods relating to the 2020 election. 

This week in Washington, D.C. is going to be interesting because members of all three segments are going to be there. Pence is the featured speaker at a Heritage Foundation event Monday and a Young America’s Foundation gathering Tuesday.

Trump is going to give his first post-presidential speech in Washington at the America First Agenda Summit on Tuesday.And some never-Trump people will get some visibility as the January 6 hearings still have ripples in the political water. 

Rep. Adam Kinzinger offered over the weekend an interesting idea of where the GOP is headed in the near future. 

“Trumpism isn’t dying, even though Trump is becoming irrelevant,” Kinzinger told ABC’s Jonathan Karl on “This Week.”

So those trying to steer right down the middle of the road have to figure out how to trumpet Trumpism without Trump.