The Whigs collapsed over slavery. Could the GOP over Trump?

Still, Trump, in his childish vanity, makes everything about himself. And beyond that, these fights over Trump are about larger matters, too. The immigration fight is over the party’s stance toward one of the hallowed traditions of this country (that we are a nation of immigrants), and the Mueller fight is over the Constitution itself, and the rule of law.

Are those stakes as big as slavery was in the 1850s? You bet they are. In other words, how we treat immigrants and whether we remain a nation of laws are plenty big enough matters for a party to split into two over. And Trump, being Trump, will do everything he can to force the split. He will make the future of the Republican Party a loyalty test to him.

For decades, Republicans have fancied themselves the party of the rule of law. After all, that’s what a republic is by definition, a nation of laws, as opposed to a democracy, a nation of majority rule. But it’s also the case that in the last few years, the Republicans have become the party of sheer lawless power, from Bush v. Gore to the denial of Barack Obama’s 2016 Supreme Court pick to their blind loyalty to this mobster president.