In 2016, conventional wisdom had it that there was an anti-Trump “lane” within the party. That wasn’t accurate then and is less true today. There isn’t even an anti-Trump bike path.
Recent polls indicate that Trump is the front-runner for the 2024 Republican nomination. His nearest challenger, Gov. Ron DeSantis of Florida, is at least 20 points back. I doubt that DeSantis or any other major figure will challenge Trump if he runs. To do so would be to invite a level of abuse that, as Sen. Marco Rubio (R-Fla.) has discovered, could do long-term damage to their standing with the MAGA base.
You can see the way things are going in the GOP by watching what the supreme opportunists do. Republicans once harshly critical of Trump — e.g., Rep. Elise Stefanik (R-N.Y.) and U.S. Senate candidate J.D. Vance — have turned into abject sycophants. Their toadyism has paid off: With Trump’s support, Vance won the Ohio Senate primary and Stefanik replaced Cheney as the No. 3 House Republican.
Trump has remade the GOP in his own orange image. It is simply inconceivable anymore to hear an ambitious Republican politician espouse pro-immigration, pro-free-trade or pro-gun-control views that would have been considered unremarkable a generation ago. More and more Republicans are emulating Trump’s devotion to waging a nonstop culture war. “Owning the libs” has become more important than getting anything done.
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